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)
As many others have written summaries, I will write about the quality of the novel.
First off, I loved The Handmaid's Tale. I would describe it as having an etherial quality, as the story comes together slowly in a stream of conscious manner. You're constantly moving from memory to memory, which makes the whole read very engaging and very suspenseful. But as a good portion of the experiences are described as having already passed, it also feels very lethargic, as though the narrator really has nothing better to do. Which, as you listen to the book, you realize she doesn't. It's really wonderful.
I will also note that this book makes social commentary on the role of women in society, and also how men perceive them. It also talks a bit about what we feel is normal, and how quickly that can change. But I will reiterate, this is commentary. Atwood has created a world that allows her to ask these questions, but she doesn't say explicitly what is right and what is wrong. Making this a very good thinking book, I would highly recommend this to individuals and book clubs alike!
My only critique of this book would be that the ending feels to come about a little fast, and a little haphazard. It feels as though Atwood, having used all her characters for their intended purposes, no longer knows what to do with them, and tosses them about hither and yon. That being said, I will still listen to this book again and again, wonderful narration!
This is one of my favorite books, and I've read it a few times, but wanted an audio version, so I could listen in the car. Even after repeated readings, the story is as powerful as ever. Maybe even more so at this point in time. Claire Danes does a great job narrating this story. She really brought this to life as the voice of Offred. I'll be recommending this to friends, and suspect I will be listening to it over again at some point - because I liked it that much.
This was a very chilling book. When you read it, your initial reaction is that this could never happen. Until you realize that it has happened in other countries, where women's rights have been totally stripped away. I had to keep reminding myself that this was written in the mid 1980s, which make it even more chilling. The religious right taking over this country and wanting to limit women's reproductive freedom? Nah, could never happen? Could it?!?! Just look at what is occurring around us today.
It was interesting to think about the context of this story. There was concern by the government of the dropping Caucasian birth rate, which is why they created the handmaid role in that society. Racism was at the core of this, although you don't really learn this until the end. And if you think about it, the fact that they use the Aunts, who are women, to control other women makes sense. How many times do the people who oppress others turn out to be the same group of the people that they oppress?
There were parts of the story that I found slow moving, but overall, it was a solid read. I listened to this as part of Audible's A-list collection and Clair Danes did an excellent job narrating the story.
I loved this book. It is a book that makes you realize freedom is very important and being involved in our government as a women is essential. Very interesting read!
For me this novel is up there with 1984 as being both shocking and believable. It's a quiet, contemplative narrative, as it focuses on the main character's inner world (she is not able to have much of an outer world). There is very little melodrama. It gives the reader a lot of thinking space and a lot to think about. I'm very glad I finally 'read' it.
Claire Danes reads it very well, with just the right tone and rhythm to make the prose really feel like a stream of thoughts
Beautiful writing, suspenseful in a quiet way, richly formed characters, and a disquieting, dystopian world that makes your sick crawl. Claire Danes performance is spot on.
I am not normally the type to stop a book once I start it (even an audiobook), but in this case, I had to make an exception. This story just drove me up the wall. When I realized that I had started to dread listening to it, I finally said enough.This audiobook has two overpowering problems: 1) The rhythm of the storytelling is extremely staccato. Short, disconnected sentences, in short, disconnected paragraphs, in short, disconnected chapters. Ms. Danes' flat performance probably reflects the character of the narrator rather than poor acting; however, added to the staccato rhythm, it was maddening.2) The author overuses simile, as though it were the only way to describe something. It felt like every 3 or 4th paragraph started with one (short, direct) statement followed by a daisy chain of similes, each more extreme than the last. It made me wonder if the editor sent the first draft back to the author with a note to be more descriptive, so the author put four or five similes at the end of every setting description to "beef" things up.Who knows, the concept of the story may be fantastic, but at least as an audiobook, it just did not work for me.
Great story brought to life by the amazing Claire Danes. The reason I will recommend this to my friends - and insist my nieces read it - is because it brings home how fragile our current way of life and its freedoms are. While I admit I fantasize about not having to work and having all the time I want to knit and garden, the idea of not having the freedom to work, to read, to own, to decide... Chills me to the bone.
I was very tense while listening, wondering how things would work out. I wanted her to be successful in getting pregnant but worried what would happen if she did. I wanted her to find out what had happened to her loved ones but worried it wouldn't be good news. But other than the ending, which made me cry, the part that was most intense for me was when she lost her job and found out she could no longer own anything or have money. It felt too real. That said, the description of someone's feet being tortured, while short, made me squirm. Just the idea... Yikes.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
With so many positive reviews and my newfound appreciation for the author's works, I expected the handmaid's tale to be an easy 'A'. I give it a C- overall. I thought Claire Danes did a decent job of narrating the story - her portrayal of the main character is what kept me from giving up 3/4 of the way through. The story hovered on the surface of the world changed by war and disease - society has rebuilt itself but there is no explanation of what really happened. The vague descriptions resulted in never having enough to really take hold of the reader - I felt like I was only being given half the story and the ending left many questions unanswered.
This book is even more relevant now than it was when first written.
Claire Daines is an excellent narrator.
Highly recommend this if it's been over twenty years since you last read it (like me).
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