Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Preview…In the theocratic republic of Gilead—America’s new form—Margaret Atwood introduces us to Offred who tells us “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Due to rampant pollution and chemical spills, much of the population has become infertile. To save the species, Gilead dramatically cuts back on women’s rights. Any woman testing fertile is enslaved as a handmaid to high-ranking political couples.
All women are forced into either this role or other demeaning functions such as that of a domestic Martha or an obsequious wife, who must cradle the handmaid’s head in her lap as her husband plunges himself into the maid in attempts to repopulate the earth.
Deep in this torrid world, we experience the monotonous details of Offred’s everyday. We wait and wonder if Offred’s pregnancy will take, knowing that if she is unsuccessful she will be banished from society. We follow her into secret affairs, both of the heart and otherwise. We meet the quiet resistance silently attempting to undermine the authority without drawing the notice of the eyes. We learn more about Offred’s life before Gilead and the tragic fall of the old democracy. What we never glean is knowledge of how Offred’s story ends.
A cliffhanger ending leaves the reader wondering if Offred was able to successfully escape from Gilead or if she was recaptured and sent to the colonies where all political exiles must await their sure and early deaths.
You may like this book if…you enjoy dystopian literature, you are a feminist or at least interested in feminist issues, you have a working knowledge of the Bible, in order to better understand the multitude of references, you like imagining your own ending to the story, you enjoy quick reads, you like literature that follows political rebels, you are familiar with Harvard’s campus and the area around it, you appreciate the delicate beauty of a hard-boiled egg
You may not like this book if…it is too difficult to imagine such a dark future, you are not much for science fiction, you do not wish to read a book steeped in biblical references, you just have to know how the story ends—no cliff hangers, thank you!