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The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition Audiobook

The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition

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Publisher's Summary

"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.

Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).

After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless 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 everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.

Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen.

The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition features performances by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, Emily Bauer, Allyson Johnson, Gabra Zackman, Suzanne Toren, Tim Gerard Reynolds, Jennifer Van Dyck, Ray Porter, Emily Cox, Lauren Fortgang, Dan Reiss, Prentice Onayemi, Therese Plummer, and Mark Boyett.

©1985 O.W. Toad, Ltd. First American Edition 1986. Published by special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Thanks to Audible, you can now pick up a new Special Edition of The Handmaid's Tale to get caught up to speed on the story of Offred, brought to life in this audiobook version by none other than Claire Danes. (Suddenly our heads are spinning with crossover potential.) Aside from the impressive voice acting alone, this audio update also contains new scenes that actually extend the story beyond the original last line of the novel." (Nerdist)

"This highly pertinent, ingeniously conceived production deepens the original work and even surpasses it." (The Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (6286 )
5 star
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4.5 (5791 )
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Story
4.7 (5811 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian Niagara Falls, NY 05-13-17
    Brian Niagara Falls, NY 05-13-17 Member Since 2015

    Check out BriansBookBlog DOT com for more reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An enjoyable dystopian with a lot of truth"

    With the release of the series on Hulu that was based on this book, I decided to give the book a listen before watching any of the episodes. I told my wife to start it without me in case I didn't like the book or couldn't get through it.

    I did have a hard time in the beginning of The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's writing style is the epitome of the books teenagers are "forced" to read in high school that makes them feel like they don't enjoy reading. It was choppy and incredibly descriptive. For every description of something that Offred saw there were up to 5 lines about it in the book.

    Honestly, that is the reason that I gave this a 4 out of 5. The story is awesome, and being written as long ago as I'm alive -- a lot of the main pillars of it are easily seen as coming true sooner rather than later. I believe that Atwood wrote this as an enigmatic "future" tale, not putting a date on it to age it. And it was written well enough that Hulu decided that they wanted to make a series out of it.

    Offred was one of those characters that you both feel bad for and not. I think she was written this way so that you both feel pity for her and a little bit apathetic. By far I would not wish what Offred had to go through on anyone but at the same time, the way her character was written made it more or less blasé.

    The dystopian future that Atwood created was easily what kept me reading this. It was interesting and deep. I would read more books about the lead-up and the start of the entire fall from grace. I absolutely loved her descriptions and the way that she left other things up to the reader's imagination.

    If you're curious if you should pick this book up -- it really depends on how much you enjoy the story (or the writing). Some people enjoy long and over-explained diatribes (millions of Stephen King fans for example). But, don't say I didn't warn you.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-05-17
    Gillian Austin, TX, United States 04-05-17 Member Since 2017

    SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!

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    "Wait! It Mightn't Be What You Think--"

    I already have the original version of "The Handmaid's Tale" narrated by Claire Danes, and it's fabulous. But when I saw this Special Edition with the "full cast" tag, I thought it was going to be done by Danes as the Handmaid, and a full cast for everyone else.
    Uh--no...
    It's the exact same thing, so if you've already used a credit, you might want to think about whether to purchase this or not. It does, after all have the full cast for the Symposium, and the bit with Margaret Atwood, and a brief essay which don't take up too much time exactly.
    IF, however, you've never listened to this--PLEASE DO!
    I think it's Atwood's finest, filled with rich prose, unbeatable language, and Danes is a great narrator.
    It is indeed important for our times as all that happens in the book is based on The President's Day Massacre--therefore, we give up rights we hold dear all in the name of fear, security. In this time when women's health is taking a beating, it's wonderful speculative fiction.
    It's simply the day-to-day, night-to-night, existence of one woman trapped in a new society, forced to give up, to only remember with utter agony, the life and loved ones she was torn away from. It's what she has to do to survive, where Scrabble is kinky and ungodly.
    Though I was disappointed that there wasn't a full cast for the book, it was really, really great to listen to this again.
    You wind up wishing for so much for this Handmaid, least of all: that one day she can again be important enough to at least own her own name...

    316 of 354 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ambER 04-20-17
    ambER 04-20-17 Member Since 2017
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    "WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT"
    What made the experience of listening to The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition the most enjoyable?

    Claire Danes' Narration


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

    LISTEN: I thought this was going to be the entire novel narrated by the full cast. Claire Danes and Tim Gerard Reynolds?! YES PLEASE.

    BUT NO.

    This is simply Claire Danes narrating the entire novel (wonderful job though) so if you already have a copy of the handmaiden's tale narrated by her DONT GET THIS ONE BECAUSE THE OTHER NARRATORS JUST READ THE EXTRAS TACKED ON AT THE END.


    62 of 74 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara Rathfelder 04-07-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Excellent"

    Excellent story. Very well done. I encourage you to listen to the author at the end. She answers several questions. It says "full cast", and there is one, but it is at the very end. Offred is verbally telling her story to the reader/listener and therefore no one else plays the parts of the other characters.

    44 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre Hercules, California, United States 06-03-17
    Andre Hercules, California, United States 06-03-17 Member Since 2013

    I am a live storyteller who devours huge amounts of audio books to study classics and new books so I can tell new stories.

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    "The Novel of Our Time"
    What made the experience of listening to The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition the most enjoyable?

    The story itself made the experience of listening to The Handmaid's Tale most enjoyable. It seems plausible and prescient. I can see how Christian fundamentalist can overthrow the government and set up an Old Testament style theocracy in which women are subjugated and valued only for their ability to birth children. Atwood looked to history and current trends to follow them to their logical, although frightening, conclusion.


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

    I compared The Handmaid's Tale to George Orwell's 1984 and to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in that all three described a dystopian world in which people are always watched and information is controlled, omitted, and altered to benefit the elite of a totalitarian regime.


    What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

    Claire Danes did a phenomenal job at narrating this book. She brings a actress' craft and skill with voices and characters, creating a seamless performance. The other actors at the Gilead symposium two hundred years into the future fleshed out the novel in a scene that enlightened and humored me as it poked fun at academics.


    Who was the most memorable character of The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition and why?

    Of course, Offred was the most memorable character in The Handmaid's Tale. Her narrative reminded me of slave narratives and the Diary of Ann Frank. She told a compelling story of struggling to survive in a world hostile towards women, towards freedom. I saw this world from her eyes and at once was entranced and felt revulsion. It is all the more sad when I can see how this can happen here in America.


    Any additional comments?

    The Special Edition of The Handmaid's Tale is an exceptional production. Given that the narrator Offred recorded her account on thirty cassette tapes, the story works better heard rather than read as a book or seen on TV. Even the snippets of music at the beginning of each cassette were a nice touch, bringing her story to life as it was recorded.This is one of the greatest novels I have listened to this year, but also one of the most frightening because I can see how this can happen here.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Flanagan 04-13-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Great"

    This book is fantastic. Claire Danes is great. The special edition isn't very special- they added a bit of music before the chapters and a discussion and essay at the end.

    33 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie 04-07-17
    Melanie 04-07-17
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    "Wow. Just wow."

    I read this book in the '80s when it first came out and enjoyed it. Some 30 years later it rings even more strongly as a cautionary tale and a very human story.

    The narration is superb. The addition of the "question and answer" session is brilliant.

    I recommend.

    59 of 74 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 04-28-17
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 04-28-17 Member Since 2017

    I am a 68 yo disabled veteran who was a medic during Viet Nam. I am retired and live on a lake north of Dallas, TX. I love Audible.

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    "A Real Post Apocalyptic Tale"

    This is what the aftermath of a political apocalypse looks like. When good men and women stand by and let fanatics take over the government and pass laws that follow the advice of allegorical texts like the Old Testament and the pronouncements of misogynistic men who lived 2000 years ago, like good old St. Paul. And, I say that as a church going Lutheran who goes to church every week and is an elder in a church who's doctrine follows many of the pronouncements of that same old misogynist. Hey, you can't effect change within an organization from outside it!

    But this book takes as it's premise a scenario that fundamentalists have taken over the US, and have written laws that forbid women to own property after laying the groundwork to keep them under control by making everything purchasable only by something equivalent to what we know as a debit card. Cash isn't legal any more. Cards are then marked as "F" for female and "M" for male and they pass a law that "F" cards won't work any more, thus making women dependent on men for money. It's that easy. And, it's not hard to suspend disbelief on this sort of premise. Once that's accepted, the rest of the story follows.

    It's told in a series of what are essentially diary entries, some current and some sort of flashbacks to "before" when things were more recognizably the USA we know.

    The narration was good, and the production was excellent. Nothing distracted from the story. The prose was effortless and descriptive. The ending was... well, I don't want to spoil anything.

    Five stars, all the way. I'll be thinking about this nightmare every time I hear some senator railing about abortion, or trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood... wait, they did that didn't they? This allegorical little tale has a real lesson in it. Fanatical fundamentalism is dangerous, whether it's Muslim or Christian. Any sort of fanaticism is dangerous and must be guarded against or "impossible" things can happen. A look at the Mid-East should be lesson enough for us, when we see grown men attacking young girls for the dangerous action of trying to get an education. When men start trying to control what women do because they are women, something is wrong with the men.

    78 of 100 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynette Garet San Clemente, CA 04-13-17
    Lynette Garet San Clemente, CA 04-13-17 Member Since 2015

    Net Garet

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    "Chilling and insightful"

    Like many, I read and loved The Handmaid's Tale in the late 80s. Given the recent production of the Hulu mini-series, I wanted to "read" it again; I found this special edition to be far more insightful than the first, with its essay and commentary following.
    Moreover, perhaps because of my own age, maturity and wisdom or because of the current political climate (likely, a combination of the two), I was far more moved by Ofred's story this time around. Margaret Atwood at her best; a must read cautionary tale.

    30 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 05-28-17 Member Since 2014
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    "expected more"
    What disappointed you about The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition?

    I had heard so much about this book and upcoming movie that I was excited to listen but then disappointed. I never felt like the characters had much depth so I didn't really grow to care about any of them. The story kept dragging on and then just ended. I kept waiting to be drawn into the story or feel something toward the characters but that never happened.


    How could the performance have been better?

    I felt the enunciation of many words felt pressured and that distracted from the story telling. The voice seemed to be bored reading, which might have been why I was bored listening.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I guess it gives you something to think about - could our society be overtaken in this way?


    7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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