ISBN-10: 038549081X
Publisher: Anchor Books
Published: April 1998
311 pgs

From the blurb:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Imagine if you are living in the near future, where women are ripped off from freedom and are no longer in control of their bodies, what would you think? Or better still, what would you do? This is exactly what happens in the Republic of Gilead, whereby women are being treated like breeding machines and their movements are strictly controlled. They are divided into different classes and each has her own role to play; e.g. the Wives held the highest 'rank' amongst all women as they are the wives of the Commanders, the Marthas are like housekeepers while the handmaids will do whatever the Commanders or their Wives ask them to do, but basically their role is to procreate and if they failed to do so in two years' time, they would be labelled as 'Unwoman' and/or to be sent to the Colonies.

In this story, it is about a woman called Offred. In a narrative tone, she tells her tale about her role being a handmaid and the kind of life she is living. Actually, Offred is not her real name. All handmaids' names begin with an 'Of' followed by their Commanders' names; this is to tell that they belong to a certain man (Commander) and they are nothing but objects.

Before this happens, Offred used to have her own life, her husband and a daughter. However, there is not much mention about her past life although the readers are given a glimpse of how the society has changed bit by bit and how these women's life took off a drastic turn as they are not allowed to read or write; even the basic stuff like money, bank accounts etc are being wiped off.

Margaret Atwood has crafted a frightening yet thought-provoking tale in The Handmaid's Tale. Though it is a fiction, what really terrifies me is that one never knows what elements in this story will become a reality in future, e.g. the nonentity of paper money, the massive role of surrogate mothers etc.

I could not say I like or dislike this story, but the author's prose, the premise and the characters are the main factors that allowed me to keep on reading. One of the things I quite enjoyed is the author did not really tell the story in a straightforwardly manner but let her readers guess and find out what happens as they read along. The only thing that disappoints me is the ending, because I would want to see it all nicely wrapped up. But maybe that is not so important, as I would like to think this book serves more like a reminder to us, telling us we should be grateful for what we have and to appreciate life and the people around you. This is a powerful book that I would not forget in a while.
Rebecca Reads
The Bluestocking Society
Things Mean A Lot
(Let me know if I have missed your review.)

I would also like to thank Alice for passing this award to me. Alice's blog is one of the coolest blogs I ever know and I am very happy to call her my friend. Thank you so much for everything, Alice!

I am going to take the simplest way and pass this award to all my blog buddies (you know who you are!). Thank you for reading and for your friendship! You guys rock!
26 Responses
  1. Alice Says:

    You totally deserve the award, Melody. Congrats!

    This book sure sounds interesting. There's a book warehouse sale going on now and I might just pop by and break my book ban (arrrgh!). This title also has been on my wish list for quite a while. Not sure if I'll find it at the sale but it's worth trying. :)

  2. Laura Says:

    The ending was a bit frustrating--I want to know what was going to happen to her!

  3. Melody Says:

    Alice - Thanks again! You're always so sweet! :) Forget about book ban, haha... I hope you'll find the book at the warehouse sale!

    Laura - I so wanted to know what happened in the end! I guess the author has her reason for such ending. Oh well...

  4. Anonymous Says:

    This is a really sad story.
    But i would definitely like to read it. Read and heard a lot about this one.

  5. Alice Says:

    Forget about the book ban? I can definitely do that! LOL.

    I saw the "Top Comentators" on your sidebar and I'd love to incorporate that into my blog as well. How did you do it?... If you don't mind you can email it to me at {teh dot alice at gmail dot com}.

    Thanks for sharing!...

  6. Rebecca Reid Says:

    I also didn't like or dislike it: I just experienced it. There were things I didn't like, but overall, I agree that it was a powerful story I won't forget for a while.

    My review

  7. Jeane Says:

    It's been a while since I read this book. I can't remember how it ended- I need to go read it again. But I do remember how much it made me stop and think, how Orwellian and outrageous it seemed. Almost frightening, if that makes sense.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I read this book last week and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a little disturbing but absolutely made me more grateful for what I have!

  9. Ana S. Says:

    It was frightening, wasn't it? The ending worked for me, but I completely understand being frustrated by it. I just thought that the uncertainty fit the tone of the story. And then that "lecture" added a hopeful note, because they were at a point in the future where Gilead was no more.

  10. Debbie Says:

    I just bought this book yesterday. It's a bit older, but has gotten lots of blog attention lately. I can't wait to read it.

  11. Shana Says:

    Melody, yours is the second review I've read of this book in the past month. I've added it to my TBR list. It sounds interesting enough for me to get past the fact that the ending leaves things unresolved.


  12. Melody Says:

    Violet - Indeed it's a sad story. I hope you'd read it soon, and please do let me know what you think after you've read it. :)

    Alice - I've sent you an email. Check it out! ;)

    Rebecca - Thanks for the link! :)

    Jeane - I love books that make me stop and wonder. This is just one of those books.

    Jessica - This book is so different from the others, isn't it? I think it's good that the author write in a way that offers some thoughts for the readers.

    Nymeth - Indeed it was! Although I was a little stumped with the ending, but I think it is appropriate since one could always hope, isn't it?

    Debbie - I'm glad you've the book! I can't wait to read your thoughts. :)

    Shana - I know there are some readers who will either love or hate this book, but to me it's the reading experience that says a lot about this book! I hope you'd read it soon. :)

  13. Kim L Says:

    Great review and thanks for mentioning my review! I think you are right, this isn't a story that is really enjoyable, it is frightening and that is the point.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I loved this book because it made me think and the writing was so good. I second what Nymeth said about the ending.

  15. Melody Says:

    Kim - You're welcome! :)

    Care - I'm with you. :) I've two of her books in my pile and I can't wait to read them soon.

  16. Julia Says:

    Hi Melody - you are the coolest blogger friend too! Glad to have you in my life :)

  17. Melody Says:

    Thank you, Julia! Long live to our friendship! :)

  18. tanabata Says:

    I can't say I loved this book either but it's certainly a thought-provoking, worthwhile read. It's scary to imagine that it could actually happen!

  19. Melody Says:

    Tanabata - I definitely agree with your thoughts.

  20. Iliana Says:

    I think I loved this book so much just because it made me think of "what if". It's a scary vision of what can happen. I read it a long time ago though and am actually curious how I would react to it now. Have you read any other Atwood novels? After this one I think Cat's Eye is my favorite.
    And you do totally deserve the award! Hope you are doing great Melody!

  21. I read this one years ago and had never encountered anything quite like it before. I love Atwood's writing and would love to revisit this one someday. I know what you mean about the ending, though...

  22. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I share your thoughts. I haven't read Cat's Eye, but it's definitely on my wishlist. :)

    Trish - This is an extraordinary book IMO. The premise is so original, yet at the same time terrifying!

  23. Anonymous Says:

    I did love this book, but I can see why you are hesitant to say you liked or disliked it. Atwood has become one of my favourite authors and I hope you read more by her in the future. Oryx and Crake is definitely worth a read among her many great novels.

  24. Melody Says:

    This is the second book I read by Atwood so far, but definitely it won't be my last! I've Oryx and Crake in my pile so I'm looking forward to reading it. :)

  25. This book is definitely going on my TBR list.

  26. Melody Says:

    Ladybug - I'm glad to hear you're adding this book to your TBR list! :)

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