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 don't know what I expected from this book, but it wasn't what it is! Interesting tale, "alternative future" quasi-sci-fi . . . while I wouldn't say it's a book I'd recommend to all my friends, it was definitely on the better side of what passes for escapist fiction. A very worthy use of a credit, well-written, (much above average in this regard for the genre) and an EXCELLENT performance by Claire Danes.
I had read this book many years ago, and love it, so I was looking forward to reliving it through an audiobook. Unfortunately, I found Claire Danes' narration to be wooden and rather unemotional, and that really hindered the effect of the great story and writing. My sister also listened to this book and had a very different reaction to the narration - she though it was great and that there was a lot of emotion in her reading. Go figure. It turns out we also have very different reactions to Claire Danes' acting - I think she's rather wooden there too and think she's the weak link actor in movies and TV shows (why didn't I think of that sooner?)
So, while The Handmaid's Tale is a great book, my guess as to whether you'll like this audiobook will depend on whether you like the (acting) work of Claire Danes. If you think she's a great (or even "really good" actress) then listen to this, because the story and writing by Margaret Atwood are terrific. If you don't like her other work, then buy the printed book instead.
Avid Reader and Listener.... enjoy classics, poetry, memoir. Teach College English.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this audio book. The narrator was very strong and her delivery help keep me interested. The story is a classic dystopian one written well before the genre became so popular. If you are female you will be interested and if you are a thinking male, you should enjoy it as well. And it has a terrific ending.
The main character was still young, but spoke of the past the way a grandchild might speak of the grandparent's time - not the way a person would speak of their own not so distant past. She mentioned a time before when women made rugs in their 'spare time'. As though the hard work that women performed was related to leisure activities - I doubt anyone was familiar with the term 'spare time' when that level of effort was required to maintain a home. It was like the writer wasn't from planet earth, and had just read about it and interpreted the story incorrectly. There was a long introduction of nothing much happening that I thought might lead up to something interesting, but it never did. It reminded of the ramblings of a schizophrenic full of distorted thoughts and hallucinations. A dialog with snippets of songs, books, and TV shows all mixed in with odd references to history, paintings, and school - the pieces not fitting together. A bland recipe with garbage thrown in to spice it up. Altogether a bad experience - I listened for hours, but I just couldn't finish. I didn't care how the character got where she was or what happened after and I certainly didn't want to waste any more time on the story. I wish I could wash the whole thing out of my mind.
Someone with more patience, and who doesn't expect the story to go anywhere.
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.
She did an excellent job. Great intonation and style.
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.
It's an amazing novel and Claire Danes' performance is fabulous. She absolutely does the work justice.
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!
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.
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!
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