Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

I’d wanted to read The Handmaid’s Tale for some time. Friends raved about it and when the TV series came out, there was a lot of talk about it and the concept. But, as many of you bookworms out there will appreciate, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to read all the books on my ever-growing pile. So, The Handmaid’s Tale lay on my shelf for some time until the sequel, The Testaments, came out and I decided it was about time I picked it up and read it.

The blurb says:

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful vision of the future gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s irony, wit and astute perception.’

I have to say I agree with the latter. The book is a short read; regardless, the pages just kept turning. I wondered where Margaret was going to take the reader next. The first-person viewpoint is the perfect choice. We are right there, with Offred, as she experiences this cruel and shocking dystopian world. As Margaret builds up a picture of the world Offred currently inhabits, through vivid description, she pauses along the way, allowing the reader an insight into how life used to be for Offred before everything changed. And there’s more change in store for the main protagonist when she’s faced with making major decisions which could affect the rest of her life.

The book took me on a journey – one minute I was smiling, the next I felt a lump in my throat. I honestly didn’t know where the journey would end. It’s one I recommend you take.

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14 Responses to Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. I bought the audio book of this yesterday, Esther. Isn’t that amazing! You’ll be happy to know that your wonderful comments on my book have inspired a whole new idea and I am introducing two new characters and two new ghosts. I think it will be a novel by the time I am finished. I’m delighted.

    • What a coincidence! I hope you enjoy it. I’m so pleased you found my comments useful. How exciting that you’re introducing two new characters and two new ghosts! And developing the book into a novel. Brilliant. I’m so pleased for you. That’s made my day.

  2. Ritu says:

    I watched the first series and wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy the book… Might change my mind!

  3. Mary Smith says:

    I read the book some years ago and thought it was brilliant. I didn’t watch the series and when they made a follow up I was quite glad I didn’t. I’m not sure if I’ll read The Testaments – if I do it won’t be soon as I’ve such a pile to get through. By then the hype should have died down!

  4. I read it when it first came out years ago, it was chilling then….

  5. Annika Perry says:

    Esther, lovely compelling review of a book I read when it came out! I recently finished The Testament. It had a different literary feel from the original but still a brilliant, gripping and haunting book.

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