I’ve Just Finished Reading: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

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I’ve been wanting to read this book for so many years but for one reason or another, I haven’t got around to it. Last week I finally got my hands on a copy and devoured it one Sunday.

I was totally blown away by it. It’s a stupendous piece of science fiction literature at its best. Don’t be put off by its classification of Science Fiction if that’s not your usual cup of tea. As a study into the objectification of women and an examination of women as property, it’s extremely thought provoking and will stay with you for a long time. I’ve not been ready to read another book yet, I’m still caught up with this one, over a week after finishing it.

It tells of a Handmaid known as Offred and her story both past in what we think of as “normality” and present, in a dystopian world where women are not allowed to work and where many cannot have children. This is the sole purpose of Handmaids – to essentially be child bearing slaves of wealthy couples who can’t have children.

It’s a terrifying yet wholly believable portrayal of a not too distant future, made all the more heartbreaking with Offred’s memories of her past and how she came to be in the situation she is now.

I would say avoid the film. Although the screenplay was written by Harold Pinter,  it doesn’t capture the feel or the story very well.  In the book, Offred is an intricate protagonist, you know a lot about her life and yet in the film she’s almost a blank page. Almost nothing is known about her and she almost comes across as unlikeable. Invest your time more wisely and read the book.

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