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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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  •  
    Bleu Chicago, IL, United States 04-03-13
    Bleu Chicago, IL, United States 04-03-13 Member Since 2003

    Graphic Designer. Culinary Enthusiast. Mostly User Friendly.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Classic for a Reason"

    I really enjoyed this. It was beautifully written and beautifully narrated by Clare Danes. I loved the way that Atwood plays with language and symbolism, and the way that the story unfolds, slowly giving you just little bits of information at a time, and letting you piece together the whole as you go.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Orit 03-25-13
    Orit 03-25-13 Member Since 2012
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    "boring..."
    What was most disappointing about Margaret Atwood’s story?

    i dont think it is difficult to picture a doom future. The difficult part is to draw the reason it has become such a future, the steps and reasoning why and if this can be.
    This book does, in my opinion, the easy step only - picturing a tragedy future of the US. After the first 30 minutes, you get the picture and then there is more and more of the life in this regime.
    must say i did not finish the book... (first time this happens to be in Audible, hope its the last)


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hornist Chatham, Ontario, Canada 03-08-13
    hornist Chatham, Ontario, Canada 03-08-13

    I enjoy historical fiction and classics, mainly, but am always up for a good mystery.

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    "Another view of Dystopia"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Handmaid's Tale to be better than the print version?

    On one hand, I would say the audio edition of The Handmaid's Tale is better, as you get to hear the lack of inflection in Offred's voice, who is obviously suppressed by Gileadian society, as she recounts her tale. On the other hand, this lack of inflection affects your interpretation of the text.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Handmaid's Tale?

    The Commander's surprise outing for Offred was the most memorable moment for me. This outing lead Offred to see what changes had been imposed in another area of Gilead, as she had visited the locale in Pre-Gileadian times. It allowed her to reflect on all that had changed, and also helped her to learn more about some people from her past.


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

    Claire Dane's tone of voice drives home the fact that she has been suppressed and isn't allowed to feel or have opinions. She is meant only to be a reproductive unit, to do her job, and remain meek and subservient.


    If you could rename The Handmaid's Tale, what would you call it?

    Honestly, I think the name is perfect. Perhaps, it could be called: "A Handmaid of Gilead", or "The Baby Machines".


    Any additional comments?

    I found "The Handmaid's Tale" to be very thought-provoking. It made me thankful for the role of women in our society, the less-distinct lines between social classes in our society and the freedom we have to be with the person we love. It was also scary to realise that our society could easily slip into such a system.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne 02-21-13
    Suzanne 02-21-13 Member Since 2004

    * love to work (nursing informatics) * love dogs * love speed * listen to books constantly *

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    "Incredible narration - thought I was IN THE STORY!"

    Mesmerizing, kept me up late at night, sat in the driveway after work listening in the car.
    It was that good. Pulls you in so you are living it with the character. I had read this book long ago as a paperback, but the narrator really made the difference. She was brilliant, and really enhanced the story's texture and realism.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clifton Richmond, VA, United States 02-13-13
    Clifton Richmond, VA, United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Not Flawless, But Will Stay With You"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely. The book is a very interesting thought experiment that explores the interplay between gender, power and fear. And the criticism of the book is almost as interesting to explore as the book itself.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Handmaid's Tale?

    The "historical notes" at the end were an extremely interesting explanation for why the novel is structured as non-linearly as it is.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sue REDMOND, WA, United States 02-04-13
    sue REDMOND, WA, United States 02-04-13
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    "depressing tale of a possible future world"
    What would have made The Handmaid's Tale better?

    I just found it pondering, depressing, however Claire Danes spoke it so wonderfully, so filled with the depressing reality of someone in that handmaid's position, it was very convincing - so much so I had to stop listening - too depressing!


    Would you ever listen to anything by Margaret Atwood again?

    no thanks


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

    No, but I would definitely try her again.


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

    extreme sadness in what the author thought a possible future could be - ugh!


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amylu minneapolis, mn 01-13-13
    Amylu minneapolis, mn 01-13-13 Member Since 2012

    crazy violinist

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    "Still as moving and poignant as ever"

    I read this book many years ago, and I was interested to hear it performed by one of the A listers. There are a great many reviews of the book already - it is fantastic and important and chilling. It needs to be read.

    Claire Danes, however, did a great job with the narration. I won't say fabulous - I do think that she got a little too 'dramatic' with the pauses and timing now and then - but it was a thoroughly enjoyable (?) performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Provo, UT, United States 09-26-12
    Victoria Provo, UT, United States 09-26-12 Member Since 2008

    RangerGirl

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    "it might happen...."


    Sad, disturbing, borderline scary. What would I do?... But we human can adjust to just about anything... and there will always be love and the quest for belonging, for a touch and for an identity. Great, thought-provoking book. I wish the ending was more revealing...

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda CENTRAL POINT, OR, United States 06-01-13
    Brenda CENTRAL POINT, OR, United States 06-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    "That's It?!"

    Claire Danes narration is flawless and totally believable. The story sort of grabs you and leads you down a path but the ending---no...that can not be the end...I went back and looked for another section---nothing...I back up the player to see if I missed something--nope...the end is just the end- no resolution, no nothing- just a good-bye-that's-all. Somebody should really finish the story.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela M. Southern California 10-17-12
    Pamela M. Southern California 10-17-12 Member Since 2012

    A book can get you out of your house, your town, even out of the country. I'm an avid reader believing reviews help find the good ones.

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    "Intense & Frightening!"

    A friend of mine recommended this book because she knew I liked unique reads.
    This book is unlike any book I have ever come across. Much of it was written in short sentences and didn’t have a flow to it that was easy to follow. It took me awhile to surrender to this but once I did I found it quite engaging. Claire Danes was monotone in her narration, however it fit the story.

    This book is a dystopian fable with a frightening view of the future. Women are treated as nameless “its”. They have no freedoms or rights and are valued by their ability to birth healthy normal babies. If you’re into dystopian you will probably enjoy this if your not I think you may like it but not love it! Women-libbers are going HATE it!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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