"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.
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.
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.
221 of 238 people found this review helpful
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.
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...
550 of 601 people found this review helpful
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.
74 of 85 people found this review helpful
This book's current position in the cultural zeitgeist may persuade first-time listeners to interpret it purely on its political message. While that message is strong, warranted, and supremely well-crafted by Atwood, I think to focus purely on what this story "means" is to miss one of the best characterizations of modern times.
Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic literature is, for whatever reason, increasingly popular these days. I think it offers authors the chance to really push their characters to the edge of human endurance in the search of the common truths that outline our nature and behavior. The danger is though, in my opinion, that the situation is too abstract or unreasonable or unredeemable to be realistic or to really matter.
That's what makes The Handmaid's Tale so valuable. Atwood has maintained a explicit, palpable tension in this book that tosses you between all sorts of emotions you'd rather not admit. Outrage? Acceptance? Bartering? Denial? It's all here, and more. The environment is never so physically dangerous that it is physically untenable, but a very real mental anguish and psychological consequence weigh down every minute of this harrowing story. We are following someone through a gauntlet of psychic torture, brought about simply by perverted social attitudes.
I don't know much about Claire Danes--my knowledge of pop culture is nothing to write home about--but it is either her innate talent as an actor or the nature of this story that lends itself perfectly to verbal performance that allows her to add such visceral emotion and tenor to her voice. It is calm, deliberate, and absolutely raw.
Of all the books I've listened to, which is numerous but not much compared to a lot of people I'm sure, it is only Claire Danes performing The Handmaid's Tale that can make a wavering soft voice--a whisper--resonate as strongly as a woman screaming at the top of her lungs for her dear life.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
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.
55 of 66 people found this review helpful
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.
59 of 71 people found this review helpful
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.
73 of 92 people found this review helpful
I can see why this is considered a classic. Fascinating, riveting, made me think about different issues and ideas that I haven't really thought about before. That to me is what makes a novel truly great.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful
I thought this book was depressing I kept thinking it would get better and it just never did, and then it ended. No conclusion, the book didn't let you know what happened to the main character. Very disappointed. I'm baffled at the 4+ star rating. Maybe I just don't get it.
42 of 54 people found this review helpful
Isn't that weird to say? I bought this because I loved the series so much and usually the book offers more insight and greater details then what could be squeezed in an episode but in this case, no! The book is more vague, not as dark, and a bit less creative. I thought I would learn more and felt disappointed by the end.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful