|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 368 pages
Start Date: Nov. 8, 2010
Finished Date: Nov. 14, 2010 (6 days--I was home sick most of this week & zipped through it!)
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: I've always been interested in Margaret Atwood's books and (surprisingly) didn't have the opportunity to read her work in university (and I'm Canadian!). I decided to start with The Handmaid's Tale, which seems to be her most beloved book (though Oryx and Crake is also highly recognized--I may read this next).
I have not read this kind of fiction in recent years. To the extent that Atwood examines the potential for imminent disaster if certain "isms" continue to influence our society, I never have. Previously, I would plead blissful ignorance to the horrific outcomes of a dystopian future. I just don't wanna know. That may not be too proactive of me, but like the child who covers his eyes to hide himself, I figure anything I can't imagine has a chance of not occuring. Wrong.
Atwood is one of the most metaphorical writers I have had the pleasure of reading. Michael Ondaatje is another, both Canadian (go figure). The language of The Handmaid's Tale is breathtaking, malleable, yet steadfast in its often poetic analysis of a frightening evolution in our society. Offred's voice is trusting, truthful, but ultimately doubtful as we witness the atrocities of the warped, once American, nation of Gilead under extremist rule by the wavering hand of the Commander and his band of Aunts who oversee the seclusion of fertile women known as Handmaids. Dastardly fates are served to resistant, infertile, gay, and elderly men & women who are executed or sent to the Colonies for toxic waste cleanup. The ruination of civil rights & government are due to a Presidential assassination and upheaval, and the mass elimination of all literary materials & cultural or religious practices deemed blasphemous is ordered, leading to the extermination or deportation of ethnic groups.
The novel's plot is designed as if in a spiral formation, beginning with an idea that is circled around with a different perspective with each go-around, the pace quickening with each curve. Premonitions of paranoid surveillance, sociopolitical extremism, and religious evangelism are eerily accurate to trends that escalated from the time of the book's publication in 1985 and are just recently struggling to be curtailed.
As for the cover, it is such a powerful image and I feel it is the best representation of the book's message. This is a book that every woman must read and everyone should read. It is one of the most important books I've ever read. I am looking forward to reading more of Atwood--it has been suggested on other book blogs that an Atwood "newbie" begin with The Handmaid's Tale and perhaps move on to Oryx and Crake. I just may do that. Anyone read Oryx and Crake, or any other Atwood books to recommend? Of course, any comments on The Handmaid's Tale would be welcomed as well :)
Rank: (A+)- A must-read!