Welcome friends! I have started this entry in the global technosphere because I have been in love with books since the age of 2. Among the busy business of being a new teacher, this is my outlet for sharing thoughts on a love of reading a wide variety of books. My inspiration can be summed up with a yearbook quote from a teacher written when I was 8: "To the only girl at recess I see reading a book. Good for you!"
My blog title is quoted from a classmate who asked me this once. Believe it or not, I've also heard it as a teacher :D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood

Purchase:  Amazon | Chapters

Published:  1985
Length:  368 pages
ISBN:  0770428207
Genre:  Dystopian/Speculative

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!


  1. I've only read 2 of her books - The Handmaid's Tale and The Year of the Flood (which I believe is a sort of sequel to Oryx and Crake in that some of the characters from that one are in this one.) I really enjoyed The Year of the Flood as well. I think the environmental themes as well as the role of corporations are really good comment on where our society is going.

  2. I haven't yet read anything by Atwood but do want to. I have a couple of her books on my shelf to try--just to decide which to start with! This one sounds especially intriguing. I am glad you enjoyed it.

  3. The Handmaid's Tale is my favourite Atwood and one of my favourite books ever. The message is so powerful and still current.

    I've read Oryx and Crake and really enjoyed it, though it starts slower than Handmaid's Tale. The Penelopliad is good, especially if you're into Greek mythology. The Blind Assassin is also one of her best.

  4. I loved this book, and must get around to rereading at some point. Good review too, I think you summed it up really well.

    As for other Atwoods - I liked the Penelopiad and Surfacing.

  5. This new cover is so disturbing.

    I read this one ages ago. I don't recall liking it too much. I think back then, I didn't "get" dystiopian fiction. I love it now though so I am anxious to re-read this one.

  6. Like you, after all these years, I have never read any Atwood, even though I always mean to.

    Your review was excellent and well-written - now I really need to read this book!

    If you like dystopian fiction, you must read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, this year's hottest YA series. It's superb.

    Thanks for the review -


  7. What a wonderful review. I have not read this (or anything by Atwood) but after reading your review, I think I will add it to my list.

  8. I loved this one too! That cover is a bit disturbing, but then again, so is the story.