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The Handmaid's Tale Audiobook

The Handmaid's Tale

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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.

Cover Art by Fred Marcellino. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.

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.

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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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Performance
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  •  
    Margaret 11-13-12
    Margaret 11-13-12
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    "Good fiction that makes you think"
    Where does The Handmaid's Tale rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is definitely in the top 20% of the books I've listened to with Audible. The story is engaging and really makes you think about the consequences of some things going on in the world today. This certainly isn't a feel good book - but it's worth the time to push yourself to think through some challenging topics.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that the background of the story really wasn't explained until the end - exactly the opposite of most stories but I thought it worked well. This format really kept you guessing as to what happened in the world to lead to this terrifying society.

    Also - Claire Danes was fantastic as the narrarator. I'm not as picky as some about narration but she's one of the best that I've heard.


    Any additional comments?

    Definitley worth a credit

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Perkins San Jose, CA USA 09-11-12
    S. Perkins San Jose, CA USA 09-11-12
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    "Gripping story with a pitch-perfect narrator"

    What an amazing experience to listen to the performance of this book. The story was sad, hopeless, and agonizing, but also gripping and well told. Claire Danes does an excellent job of portraying Offred (we never learn her real name). Highly recommend!

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy 10-01-12
    Peggy 10-01-12
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    "Great story by an even greater reader!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Handmaid's Tale to be better than the print version?

    Yes...Claire Danes certainly out reads me!!


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

    Of course, ""Hunger Games" comes first to mind...but so does "The Chose One" and I put it on par with Kate Winslet's reading of "Terez Raquin" in narrative quality and twisted romance!


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

    Her perfect pitch of dead emotion with pleading description. You can see her in the part and it feels like a block buster film.


    If you could take any character from The Handmaid's Tale out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Both the main character (Offred) and her true love. I'm sure they'd have stories to tell!


    Any additional comments?

    Not to be missed! Should be on A-list, if it isn't already!!

    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 12-28-12
    JOHN Plantation, FL, United States 12-28-12 Member Since 2003

    Audible Member Since 2003

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    "One of My Favorites from Margaret Atwood"

    I have long looked for this title on Audible and was very pleased when it finally arrived. The story is told in the first person and Claire Danes performs it perfectly with the voice, I believe, that the author intended when she wrote this story.
    The progression of the Tale is gradual and engaging, requiring the reader/listener to gather up bits of of carefully placed images and information to put together the picture of this repressive nation. Imagine the Taliban in control of the US government and one gets an idea of the society described in this story. It is very interesting to me that Ms Atwood wrote this book in 1985, long before the world became acquainted with the Taliban, as some of the images are eerily reminiscent of some of their tactics witnessed on TV after the 9/11 attacks.
    The Handmaid's Tale comes to a conclusion and the book wraps up with a brilliant epilogue, answering many questions in a surprising and unique fashion.
    Certainly not a happy story nor action-packed, but nonetheless wonderful and captivating. Claire Danes' performance is flawless.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dee Mack 10-08-12
    Dee Mack 10-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A Must Read Tale for Our Times"

    Clare Danes gave the Handmade credibility. I believed an intelligent young female might accept the dystopic circumstances of this novel in order to survive and overcome the craziness she faces. When the book was finished I immediately searched for Margaret Atwood's other books and more from Clare Dains.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 09-24-12
    Susan 09-24-12

    This is my granddaughter's picture! She is my love.

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    "Unexpected Treasure"

    I'd heard about this book from another source. Here I read the summary and wasn't sure I would like it. After it started, I still wasn't sure because I couldn't really understand what was happening, but I kept listening. Before long I was hooked. This was one of the best stories I've heard, the best reader and I was overall very happy with this unusual story. Be careful what you ask for, you may get it! But you have to hear this story! The Handmaid's Tale will stay with you for a long long time.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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    TawneyFamily 03-01-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Read this book."

    If you enjoy negative utopian society books, you must read this novel. It was so enjoyable and interesting and thoughtful. It really delved deeply into the psyche of someone in her situation, and it made it feel so real!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    Rocio Fresno, CA, United States 02-28-17
    Rocio Fresno, CA, United States 02-28-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Chilling"

    Absolutely chilling. The combination of anger and helplessness that washed through me as I listened made me welcome the rare instances of hope. What a terrible world the author has created. And yes I definitely recommend you listen :-)

    Made me feel blessed for the rights that I have as a woman and that I should never let those rights be violated, reduced, or taken away.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meeno 02-28-17
    Meeno 02-28-17 Member Since 2007
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    "Dystopia on our minds in these reminiscent times."

    Petrifying how this novel's central thesis of history repeating itself is, well, presently repeating itself with such unabashed - and conspicuously masculine - candor. So many little tumblers are falling into place with the Trump administration's headlong race toward dictatorship. In the novel, Atwood fleetingly recalls the President's Day Massacre when all members of congress were machine gunned down. This Reichstag Fire in America was blamed on none other than "extremist Muslim terrorists". How soon till we see a marshall law inducing event like this in the real America, the one outside her Republic of Gilead, outside her reconstructed garden of evil with its blooms and decay of hope and conscience, outside the boundaries of the red cloaks and white wings, outside the wall where the flightless angels dance stiffly in the wind, outside the Handmaid's Tale, here in the darkening America we still live in. The premise of the book is this: faced with a nationwide dilemma of infertility brought on by the despoiling of the environment, a Christian Fundamentalist dictatorship seizes autocratic power of America to re-define the purpose of our nation, enslaving most in the name of faith based values and the continued hegemony of the ruling - male - elite. Today, Trump has vowed to demolish the EPA and give over all its funds to an expanded military budget. The echoes of totalitarian history and dystopian fiction are syncopating. Loudly.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LL edmonds, washington, United States 02-02-16
    LL edmonds, washington, United States 02-02-16 Member Since 2009
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    "Before and After"
    What does Claire Danes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration of Claire Danes was brilliant. She was able to create a subtle enough difference between the character voices to be effective but not distracting, A+. Her portrayal of emotion was also perfectly appropriate and natural without intruding on my own interpretation of the story. The production team could have done a better job with smoothing out some of the strong "s" sounds, but that is my only issue with the audio. I would give it 4.5 stars for the listen.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Read the book.


    Any additional comments?

    You might have the same lifetime reading experience that I have. There are books I have read, some I recall from childhood (Where the Red Fern Grows, for example) that have a definite Before and After effect on my life. There is life before reading, and an unmistakable demarcation of life after reading them. I get to the end and can feel myself slipping the book onto my inner "After" shelf. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood, is, for me, one of these books.

    Wow...where to begin. Words to describe this story: Brilliant. Terrifying. Brutal. Hopeful. Hopeless. Bleak. Disturbing. Intimate. Believable.

    As I progressed through the story and my relationship with Offred developed, through Atwood's very effective first-person perspective, I became more and more aware of just how easily we could find ourselves in Offred's situation under the same circumstances. The empathy that Atwood was able to create and stimulate was chilling. There was an almost palpable sense of Atwood's struggle in Offred's story. She was very effective in staying true to the narration perspective of the character. She didn't deviate from what Offred experienced and saw. I could feel the struggle in Offred's psyche; her shock, her hopelessness, her disgust, and then her acceptance, and then her shame.

    This is probably the most powerful and well written book about what it means to be a woman, and our human vulnerability to oppression and fear, that I have ever read. When Offred loses her job and then has her bank account frozen, and her husband comes home and she tells him about it, and he says "we'll be okay." Offred's reaction, where she realizes that he not only doesn't get it from her pespective, and doesn't seem to be "upset enough," but that it almost seems as if he could maybe like it a little bit...that was magnificent. I want my friend to read this book. I've been talking about it all week. My friend is a man. I'm not sure if a man can truly appreciate the depth and affect of this story. I hope so.

    The ending... I thought it was absolutely perfect. I won't spoil it, but it is what pushed it over the edge to definitely be a "Before and After" book. And I will point out that I mean this for both endings...the story ending and the "historical note" ending. Both perfect.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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