Audie Award, Fiction, 2013
Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.
After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.
The Handmaid's Tale is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.
©1985 Margaret Atwood (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
“Claire Danes sparkles in this performance…Danes’s Offred is complex, and her flashes of intense strength highlight her vulnerability. This is a consuming listen, thanks to Danes’s emotional subtleties.” (AudioFile)
I generally prefer reading to listening and the key for me to really enjoy an audiobook is the narration. The narration of this book is the best I've come across yet.
If you're waffling on whether to choose this book - do it! This was my first experience with Margaret Atwood, and I was enthralled. The story is gripping and intense. I was never bored with the story line and was disappointed when the story was over. Like many great books, it left me wanting more. It's one of those stories that stays with you.
I love Claire Danes and took a chance on this novel because she was the narrator. It wasn't enough to salvage what I found to be a completely distasteful story. I understand dystopian literature and I think I understand the message of this novel, but there were times when I wondered out loud what horrible things happened in the life of the author to make her create such a story. The descriptions of encounters designed for reproductive purposes; the punishment described in gory detail; the willingness of the heroine to go along with what was happening to her... I'm sure I was meant to explore these themes more deeply and let them speak to the dangers of our society, but honestly, I was so turned off by the story, I could hardly finish it. Claire Danes' narration got better as the story went along, but the writing was so stilted, I'm not sure anyone could have made this an enjoyable experience. So glad it's over so I can move on to something else.
I am a big fan of audiobooks, but to me not all books work on this format. More literary titles suffer. This is the case here. I could not grasp, with this recording, all the riches and subtleties of Atwood's book.
Claire Danes narration was utterly disappointing. She sounded always very depressed, with an artificial low tone that I could not stand for very long.
Like no other book I've ever read or listened to, it was very provocative. I don't know if I would have enjoyed a narrator other than Claire Danes. She was superb and made visualizing OfFred very easy.
I had to stop part way through and take a long break. It's so painful and beautiful. I needed time to let it percolate.
I've read this book decades ago. Claire Danes improved the experience for me. I will listen to this again.
Yes. It's a really great "book club" book. So many things to discuss
How close it is set to our time.
Wonderful book, really thought-provoking because so many questions were left unanswered. Claire Danes does an exceptional job with narration as well. Highly recommended!
I wanted to listen to it over again right when it ended. Margaret Atwood so perfectly and believably writes the narrator's inner thoughts. So realistic and fresh.
It's easy to like Moira- the energetic, resourceful lesbian. But this book isn't about liking characters-and Claire Danes brings something distinct to each character it's hard not to be drawn in even if you hate them.
She just SELLS it. Even though you can't see her, she fully embodies each character when she reads their lines. Sometimes I had to backtrack and listen again because she can so completely sound like another actor entirely. Old bastards, traumatized young women, snooty backstabbing old biddies, the myriad of emotions Offred goes through from the old, carefree way of life to her "reduced circumstances."
Offred so I could hear more, I guess.
It's going to be tough to find an audiobook that lives up to this one. The "a-list" series looks a little thin, and I wonder if they let the actors and actresses pick their own titles.
It would not surprise me if Claire Danes had picked this one. There are a lot of similarities between the themes here and on Homeland (double spies, trying to overthrow totalitarian leaders, women in peril, public executions, how the human mind adapts to extreme circumstances).
Even though Atwood wrote this in the mid-80's it's still unfortunately, very relevant and illuminates aspects of our government that, I'm afraid, have gotten closer to this book then when it was written.
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