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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.

Critic Reviews

"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)
"Danes has a calm, still voice that perfectly suits the protagonist.... So what is 'special' and new about this edition? Most of it has to do with material at the end of the book. Previous readers of the book will know that there is an afterword set centuries after the events told in the rest of the novel; it takes the form of an academic lecture that describes finding Offred's story. She never wrote it down; rather, she recorded it over a bunch of music cassette tapes. This edition actually begins each section of the novel with the sound of a 'record' button being pressed and a snatch of music referred to in the epilogue. In a sense, this makes listening to the audiobook a more authentic experience than reading it.... While the Hulu show has its points, what it lacks is the sheer poetry of Atwood's writing, which is profoundly and gorgeously highlighted by the experience of listening to the novel. Absolutely recommended." (Locus magazine)

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-05-17

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.
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...

388 of 432 people found this review helpful

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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.

88 of 103 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • Niagara Falls, NY
  • 05-13-17

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.

48 of 57 people found this review helpful

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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.

43 of 53 people found this review helpful

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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.

49 of 61 people found this review helpful

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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.

66 of 84 people found this review helpful

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No conclusion

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.

25 of 32 people found this review helpful

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One of the best novels I've ever read (listened to

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • Hickory Creek, TX United States
  • 04-28-17

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.

100 of 134 people found this review helpful

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Complex Simplicity

I have been encouraged by some, who know that I'm an addictive reader, to read Margaret Atwood, in particular., this novel. Always hesitant to read futuristic or allegorical material , I put this off. But when this "special edition" became available, I decided to wing it. I read this whole book with a couple of naps.
Even being an English literature major, I was sooo glad to have an explanatory afterword, if only to legitimize my own notions about the deeper meanings of the narrative... which are closer to the surface than one would like to believe!!!! Offred is the perfect protagonist. Thanks, Claire Dsines, for making her so real.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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