Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale

My advice to anyone looking to read this book, is don’t. I wanted to because I understand it is a seminal feminist text written to describe a dystopian future where women are stripped of their rights, and assigned roles of baby breeder (red gown), Aunt, Martha, Wife, or sex worker.

This is a dark nasty vision of the future where our heroine, the narrator, lives in a home where her sole purpose is to breed with the man of the house, under supervision by his childless wife.

Shall I go on?

This book plunged the darkest depths of female character traits, and the men don’t get off lightly either. Our heroine’s bedroom used to house the last girl, who hung herself in there. 

Again, shall I go on?

I don’t know who would enjoy this book or who I would recommend it to, but maybe that’s not the point. I remember the most depressing thing about reading George Orwell’s 1984 when I was just 18 and full of beans, was how close to reality it comes.

We all live in front of screens, we are all monitored; CCTV is rife in the UK for example, and the editorial code for much of the press has an agenda. It is the closeness to reality that makes it so haunting, and with The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s similar because our world is in living memory to our narrator, and we’ve all seen how swiftly governments can bring about new laws to control movement and liberties given our experiences during Coronavirus.

Shall I go on?

I couldn’t wait to finish this book because it is so dark. I had an off day where I felt miserable because I started my period, and then the book was sort of comforting because I thought, at least my life isn’t that bad.

Shall I go on?

I know they made a TV drama out of this novel, and fair play, I loved Elisabeth Moss in MadMen, especially because I used to work in advertising. But this book is just too dark and depressing for me. I think that’s the whole point in all honesty, but for me, it’s not entertainment.

Edit: Believe it or not, a few weeks later I wrote another review based on reflections and the passage of time. Here it is.

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From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow.

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