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The Handmaid's Tale | [Margaret Atwood]

The Handmaid's Tale

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name....
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Margaret Atwood’s modern classic is one of the most stunning and powerful works of speculative fiction ever written, and it took a lot of careful consideration to determine who would best narrate this important book. Claire Danes elevates the frightening dystopic vision by lending a sheen of reality with her performance. She doesn't act, and she doesn't need to. She recounts. She breathes out the tale as if she is living it. Resigned, beaten down, traveling through hell by putting one step ahead of the other. I was utterly convinced by her performance. —Emily

Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    L. Paul Rosenberg Rochester NY 10-09-12
    L. Paul Rosenberg Rochester NY 10-09-12 Member Since 2003

    lpaulr

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Finally at Audible"
    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Could this be where we are going?


    Any additional comments?

    Great to get some of the very best books of recent times to the Audible catalog.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Twin Bridges, MT, United States 10-01-12
    Debra Twin Bridges, MT, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2005

    Mom, married, website designer, portfolio manager in self-imposed exile (yeah Greg Smith!!), former California native, Episcopalian.

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    "As good as the hype"

    I've heard recommendations for this book for ages and finally got around to listening to it. It was just as good as the recommendations.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine 01-01-13
    Elaine 01-01-13

    I'm a country potter, gardener, flute player and tin tinker living with my husband, an electrical engineer & cabinet maker.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thanks to all involved"

    First of all, Claire Danes did a marvelous job narrating this. She seemed to grow into the character.
    Then, I was struck hard by the relationship between this book and what the current Republican party seems to want to accomplish in its ongoing war on women.

    As every decade of my life passes I am more and more frustrated by the second class citizenship of women throughout the world. While I listened to this book female fetuses in China and India were aborted because they were not boys. A student on a bus in Delhi was raped for 3 hours while her boyfriend was beaten. Another Indian woman was gang raped and set on fire. This brutality toward women isn't punished in many countries so it continues.

    Also now Chief Theresa Spence is on a hunger strike demanding that the Canadian PM speak with her about the issues of sovereignty of the First Nations people. He's refusing to honor the law or the the dignity of this woman. Would he talk with her if she was a man? I wonder.

    I worry that the future for women will be worse than the past. This book contains much in need of discussion and action. THanks Margaret ATwood.

    6 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janet PLANO, TX, United States 12-06-12
    Janet PLANO, TX, United States 12-06-12 Member Since 2005

    A good narrator can make a mediocre book come alive. I love having a story read to me - it's a wonderful escape.

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    "Ok"

    First, Claire Danes was the perfect choice to read this book. She got the feeling right - her intensity was perfect for such a dire story. That said, the story could have been more interesting. It had a unique view of an over-thrown government and what could happen when the rights of our citizens are revoked - mostly women's rights in this story. At first I was really interested, and I longed to hear more from the "Handmaid" about how this state of the country occurred and what the main characters were like before the change-over, but there was too little time spent on that. It just left too many questions and holes in the story for me. I felt a little unfulfilled as though I had been listening to a poorly-edited abridgment. I would, however, give Margaret Atwood another chance and listen to another of her stories.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail 11-22-12
    Gail 11-22-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Shock ~ Mundane Work by the Usually Superlative"

    In my life I have attempted to read every book I could find in fiction and philosophical treatises which speak specifically to ideas and concepts on social utopias and/or dystopias. My quest began in the early 1970's after I took a great University class titled "Social Utopias and Dystopias". To cite just a few of the 70 books we discussed...Plato's "The Republic", Bellamy's "Looking Backward", Huxley's "Island" and "Brave New World", the harsh and biting satires of Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and "A Modest Proposal", Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and "Animal Farm", Bradbury's peerless "Fahrenheit 451", almost all of Heinlein's work from the 50's, Vonnegut's Player Piano a.k.a. Utopia 14, and on and on... Then read all the nature verses nurture discussions by Hesse et al. If you are like me you will feel the passion and the power of these books and the courage of their authors to attempt to define/explore ways that humans can achieve a better social order, to expose horrible tyrannies or uplifting acts of courage, ergo to educate then encourage and/or warn the individual to join others in hope to rise up and change for the better or to stop ignoring the atrocities... ok, ok...I'll stop my little digression now by saying that I think the dystopian books have the power to change our world one revelation at a time.
    To further preface my review of this book, I entered the job market as a woman before even one bra had been burned. At the time I graduated I was the only woman at a major university who majored in Economics and planned to go into international banking. I was granted an interview with the second largest bank in the world (now defunct-ha!) only to hear...and I am not making this up..." Well, you know cupcake, this position requires three years of training...and you know that you will probably get married soon, then before you know it you'll have babies...you know your husband would be embarrassed if people thought his wife had to work and of course you would certainly quit to raise your babies..." and I had to agree with him at that time. I lived through the profound and in retrospect sometimes dystopian societal changes which occurred as most adult women initially thought it ideal then found it necessary to enter the work force, be super-woman ~ the great wife, housekeeper, mother of over-scheduled children and stellar employee and citizen volunteer ~ all at the same time. Whew!
    I have read and admired everything I know of written by Margaret Atwood. As referenced above, I especially am intrigued by dystopian tales, had lived through the experiences the protagonist reflects upon as occurring in a not so distant past and I expected to love this book. A good dystopian story usually contains a credible premise/warning of a possible horrible future which could occur if should a society not heed a looming possibility. Atwood totally fails to credibly explain why and how women got into the protagonists' situation. She briefly but barely mentions what caused such horrific societal changes to happen so quickly. I found the entire situation to be laughable and briefly thought it might be intended as a funny satire where I missed the entire point; as to take the story as remotely plausible is absurd. I even tried to search out ways that it could happen in any plausible future...an alternate universe...no...an alien cultural structure described to warn us in some way to stop some actions happening in society or to hope for other interactions...no...perhaps Bobby gets out of the shower and it was all just a dream or...What? Why? I think she tried explain this farce of a tale with no end (yet failed horribly) in the epilogue where a distant society tries to explain what happened. Doesn't this scholarly presentation at a meeting by a far future society about this odd, mysterious era in history discussed in the book take away from the books description of how a society handled the situation where few women can get pregnant and only one in four babies are normal? The presenter ends with "Do you have any questions?" Well, I do.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauri 02-28-13
    Lauri 02-28-13

    I love to be totally immersed in a good story. I love the thrill of the middle of a great book. Thinking about it all day... wondering what will happen and then enjoying the conclusion. Nothing frustrates me more than an author who weaves an intense story line, builds interesting characters and then dumps me into despair by ending it all abruptly. Just hate that. I relish the "ahhhhh" at the end of a great story.

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    "Weird Storyline"
    Would you try another book from Margaret Atwood and/or Claire Danes?

    No thanks


    Has The Handmaid's Tale turned you off from other books in this genre?

    This was a very strange storyline. Difficult to follow and outrageous. Gave it up after the first half of the story.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ivah Yucaipa, CA, United States 02-25-13
    Ivah Yucaipa, CA, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Too Depressing"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I have no idea


    Has The Handmaid's Tale turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No necessarily


    What does Claire Danes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I read most of my books by CD or by downloading them to my phone. Claire Danes did a good job - I just hated this book


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Handmaid's Tale?

    Don't know - I could not even finish the book.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. White 07-01-14
    T. White 07-01-14
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    "Unbelievable"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A better premise for the story. Only read this if you have given up all hope for the future.


    What could Margaret Atwood have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I prefer uplifting books. This one is not.


    What aspect of Claire Danes’s performance would you have changed?

    She was fine. The problem was the book.


    What character would you cut from The Handmaid's Tale?

    I wish I could get all of these characters out of my head. They are all depressing.


    Any additional comments?

    This a good one to skip.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nyoka Brownstown, MI, United States 11-09-13
    Nyoka Brownstown, MI, United States 11-09-13 Member Since 2011

    Nyoka Mullins

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    "Totally Bored to Death"

    I found nothing at all interesting in this book, I should have sent it back, but for $4.95 I just suffered it out, it had not plot, nothing at all made sense to me...would not recommend to anyone, even if it's free

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    carole Portland, OR, United States 10-09-13
    carole Portland, OR, United States 10-09-13
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    "The Handmaid's Tale"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This story is stupid. It takes forever to get to the story and even then it's so stupid. It could've been a good story but the reader and story was very boring.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The read just read the book.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Handmaid's Tale?

    most of it.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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