I finally finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. One of my good friends at work loaned her copy to me because she wanted me to read it before getting into the show on Amazon Prime.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe how I feel about this book. It was excellent and well-written. But the way it ended–I feel like I had the rug pulled out from under me. It was also unsettling reading about a fundamentalist sect taking over the United States. As a woman, reading the book was uncomfortable because of how easy it was to imagine being in Offred’s frame of mind, not to mention the things that she’s forced to go through.
The narrative can be a little confusing, but I think that lends to the overall tone of the book. Offred is a Handmaid in the beginning of the Gilead takeover. She remembers her life before and her family, especially her daughter. The narrative bounces around as Offred’s thoughts wander to how things were before. then snaps back to her current surroundings. I felt this helped me gain a better sense of the confusion and almost split personality such a change would force on a person.
Offred arrives at a new house to be a Handmaid to a high-ranking officer in the Gilead government. The book follows her experiences there and how she attempts to cope and work through her role as, essentially, a slave who’s there to have babies for the sterile wife. Overall, I found The Handmaid’s Tale… chilling. Chilling is the best way I can describe it.
I think this is a book everyone should read once. It’s one of those sorts of books, much like Fahrenheit 451, 1984 (still need to finish that one), and Paradise Lost. (Yes. Paradise Lost is something everyone should read at least once.) These are some of the great literary pieces that get you thinking. While we read to enjoy, we need to read to expand our horizons as well.
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