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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

4.1 (4439 )
5 star
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4.4 (4000 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ann 08-02-13
    Ann 08-02-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Overdescriptive dirge"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone with more patience, and who doesn't expect the story to go anywhere.


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

    Less description, more action. A better conclusion. A more realistic dialogue - OfFred would not have remembered all of those details about feeling and thinking post-escape. We know that OfFred makes it out somehow to record her tapes, so a hint at what happens to her would give the reader some satisfaction.


    What about Claire Danes’s performance did you like?

    She did an excellent job. Great intonation and style.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment, anger


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela United States 07-20-13
    Angela United States 07-20-13

    Angel

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Claire Danes brought this book to life!"

    Such an entertaining listen. Margaret Atwood's excellent prose is given so much life by Danes! It was like she was acting out the novel just for me. I suppose she was in a way. Again, Atwood's prose is excellent. Her words flow like water at times. I don't know if that had more to do with Danes' fantastic narration, but I suspect if I had read the book myself, I would come to the same conclusion.

    I am not ashamed to admit that I did peek at the Spark Notes online a few times just to get some clarification and further explanation, and it really helped to open my eyes as far as Biblical references and things of that nature. I'm not the most studied person when it comes to the Bible or religious studies. I did also have a bit of a head-scratching moment at the end of the novel, too, in the Historical Notes section, because hearing the names of the professors and locations mentioned didn't make sense to me until I saw them written out on virtual paper. So reading the character list and details off the Spark Notes was of great service to me as well, and that gave me a better sense of the ending.

    The Handmaid's Tale is interesting, scary and strange to think about. Definitely makes me appreciate my life and all things in it. If you have the opportunity to give this book a listen, I highly recommend it. Even if you don't understand all of it at first, Claire Danes will definitely hold your attention with her skillful narration, and you can dig deeper later.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Borger, TX, United States 07-17-13
    Stephanie Borger, TX, United States 07-17-13 Member Since 2009
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    "One of my Favourite books ever"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It's an amazing novel and Claire Danes' performance is fabulous. She absolutely does the work justice.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 07-14-13
    Elizabeth Bellevue, WA, United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2014

    A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting exploration of Dystopian world"

    Very interesting. Not sure if it falls under sci-fi or just futuristic writing. While the story was interesting, what intrigued me more was to consider when it was written--1985. The Handmaid's Tale is about society after an extremist Islamic attack kills the US President and most of Congress. Christian fundamentalists take over and create a new country, Gideon, out of the old US. To consider that Atwood was writing about this in 1985 when you then consider what happened in the ensuing decades is interesting. I think this book is also a warning of good intentions gone severely awry. I enjoyed it, and would recommend to most.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marjorie Edgewater, MD, United States 07-14-13
    Marjorie Edgewater, MD, United States 07-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Riveting"
    What did you love best about The Handmaid's Tale?

    Clare Danes did a great job. I didn't want it to end. I would like to read more by this author.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shari 07-11-13
    Shari 07-11-13

    avid reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story."

    The Handmaid's Tale was a lot different then I thought it would be. I saw some negative reviews about how the book was to read mostly concerning the style it was written. I guess I lucked out here. The narrator was amazing. I felt like I was there in her head the whole time. This dystopian novel sets a surreal setting of a future where men take their power to a whole new level. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna DURHAM, NC, United States 07-07-13
    Donna DURHAM, NC, United States 07-07-13 Member Since 2012
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    "I did not want it to end"
    Where does The Handmaid's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the top three


    What other book might you compare The Handmaid's Tale to and why?

    I can't think of a comparable book at the moment.


    Have you listened to any of Claire Danes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Great performance! If this is ever made into a movie would I really would like to see her play Offered.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes. It left me feeling desperate to know her name and what happened to her.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cdesq8 Oil City, PA 07-02-13
    cdesq8 Oil City, PA 07-02-13

    Added Audible to my 2 hour commute, consuming books at rapid pace, and rating books based on keeping me engaged and making time fly!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't discount this great listen!"

    Initial draw to this Claire Danes narrated novel was undercut by Audible's insistence to keep putting this title on sale! In my mind it said something about the listening value. Obviously that's not how Audible prices (all) of its titles. When it finally landed in my library in a BOGO sale, it was a favorite listen. As Margaret Atwood herself protested, this is less science fiction than it is social science fiction or speculative fiction.

    The subject matter and 1980s women's perspective is just as relevant and poignant today and Claire Danes does excellent work with the compelling material. My 4 star rating on the story is only because I like a neat and tidy ending, but, without spoiling anything, I can accept that such a resolution would mess with the could-be-ness of the plot.

    Bottom line, don't let the fire sale pricing discourage you - just thank Audible for the great pricing on a great listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel Oceanside, CA, United States 06-27-13
    Rachel Oceanside, CA, United States 06-27-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Blah!"
    Any additional comments?

    This book was just not for me. It was very disconnected and I was disappointed that nothing ever really came of the story and it went unfinished, but that is how the story was meant to be. It jumped around so much from past/present/etc. that it was hard to follow. There were interesting parts but they always left me wanting to know more and wanting to find out what all happened but you never ever get to find out very much, which was very annoying! It was a teaser book with fragmented bits of a story- and that is exactly what the author intended it to be.

    Claire Danes simply read the book, rather than acting out the characters, which for me was boring, lifeless and dull, but for the book, I suppose it was fitting, given the circumstances of the life of the main character.

    So, for what the book was intended to be, I think they did it right. But I personally didn't like it and it left me unsatisfied and wondering what all really happened.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly Flovilla, Georgia, United States 06-27-13
    Beverly Flovilla, Georgia, United States 06-27-13 Member Since 2012

    Hello! I'm a full-time nurse, part-time reader, chef, gardener and stylist! Love all my hobbies. Oh, and mother to Marley (shih-tzu) and Sam

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Flawless Narration"

    The Handmaid's Tale is a frightening portrayal of another reality. A reality I pray will never exist.. In this novel, the world as we know it no longer exists. It has been wracked by chemical and nuclear "accidents" as well as opportunistic wars.

    Those who have risen to power, have created a scary existance for the rest of the population. Religious zealots now rule with an iron fist. They mandate all facets of life for everyone. The only way to survive is to accept their brutal form of religion where only the select few are considered worthy.

    Women of child-bearing age, who are found to remain fertile despite the chemicals that have ravaged the earth, are relagated to repopulate the earth. It is their duty. Their life is no longer their own. In fact no one's life is their own anymore.

    The novel is very thoughtfully written. The language flows beautifully and the narration is flawless. Claire Danes does the best narration I've listened to. She really captures the essance of the characters without embelishing them in anyway. She simply lets the characters be themselves and allows the author to create their voices.

    This book was written several years ago, but given the divide in our present time it seems more relevant now than it was when originally written.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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