Monday, February 11, 2013

The Handmaid's Tale

Review Time! A few months back I was contacted by a lovely publicist about reviewing books for The Folio Society, I've never actually heard of The Folio Society before but when I googled them, I came across this website and they have, no exaggeration, THE most beautiful books in the world. If you appreciate your classics, Folio Society is definitely a place to check out. All their books are finely made, beautifully bound, the artwork on the cover and between the pages are amazing and they all come in a lovely slipcase. Honestly, these are the most beautiful books I've ever seen. I'm so impressed that I'm raving! Thanks to the Folio Society for the review copy!

(Goodreads) 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 fertility, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years 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...

The Short Story? - While the story itself is speculative fiction, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale rings with the fear of what could be. A realistic take on a society where a government is corrupted by religion, where women are breeding machines and playthings and where life is plagued with the fear of retributions. This is definitely not YA and that comes through in the plot and the writing. Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale explores prevalent ideas and themes and takes them to an extreme.

The Long Story? -
This definitely isn't something I would normally pick up to read but I'm trying to break out of the YA bubble and become more cultured and where's a better place to start then The Handmaid's Tale? I thought this was a good book, different but good. It's written for a mature audience and even though it is fiction, there is truth behind the words. The world building was done very well, Atwood's Republic of Gilead was well created and I loved how Atwood's gives a play by play of how the United States slowly turned into this corrupted government that is powered by religion. At times I did think the novel was quite slow, there's a lot of thinking and reflecting and not a lot of action and movement which isn't what I would normally turn towards but there is something captivating about Offred's story. The ending leaves a lot of room for imagination and I like to think that Offred got a happy ending after all the hardships and pain she's gone through. I can see where people come from when they say this is a book about women's rights and feminism but ultimately about how religion is used to further power. Definitely a novel that stirs a lot of food for thought!

Some Pictures from Folio Society's Edition of The Handmaid's Tale

Offred as a character sums up the novel itself pretty well. A women in a society where the only value of women is in their ability to reproduce. She lost her family, her rights and her freedom and now lives her days as a plaything and breeding machine for powerful members of authority. It was a little hard to connect with Offred (name which literally means 'Of Fred', Fred being who owns her) at the start because she lacks personality. She almost seemed bland but as the novel progresses we start to see the rebellion and the anger brewing inside her. She dreams of small acts of rebellion and of change. Once I got to know Offred I thought she was a beautifully developed character. Atwood has managed to give her all these human qualities that make her realistic character such as maternal love and materialistic desire and the need for freedom. Overall, I thought Offred was a very symbolic character!

In the end, I didn't love The Handmaid's Tale, it's something that's completely out of my comfort zone but it was a very powerful book. It's one of those novels that even if you didn't love, it will make you think and it will stay with you for a long time. Poignantly beautiful, through Offred, readers see a society corrupted by religion and learn to appreciate freedom as it is. Atwood's novel of religious corruption, political injustice and women inequality offers readers honest speculative fiction!

What's it Worth? - Squeeze into the Budget

Badass Bookie xx


  1. OMG! I thought you'd bought this book, I didn't think you would have gotten a review pitch, since... well, you don't really review non-YA titles too often. Just a BIT envious right now... they're really expensive. I would die if I ever got my hands on any of them. I'm hoping to squeeze The Handmaid's Tale into my budget for this year sometime. Been wanting to read some 'classic' dystopian. I've got 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451 and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep on my tbr, as well as Never Let Me Go. I can't wait to read some dystopia that doesn't have romance as a focal point in the narrative.

    That picture. So beautiful! The Handmaid's Tale really does sound like a must-read.

  2. What a lovely cover! I've read The Handmaid's Tale twice and I expect it is a book I'll be returning to again and again throughout my life, finding something new to appreciate each time.

  3. I love Folio Society books, they are so beautiful... but so darn expensive! The Handmaid's Tale has been on my TBR for a long time now. It definitely sounds like a powerful and thought-provoking read. Great review.

  4. The Folio Society edition is gorgeous. I'd heard of them a little while ago, so beautiful, but so expensive.

    The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favourite books. I plan on re-reading it in the next few months.

  5. The Handmaid's Tale portrays a terrifying but very real and possible dystopia. At first, it's difficult to tell what exactly is going on in the handmaid's world, although her spare narration is filled with a deep sense of fear and danger. It's challenging but exciting to try to make sense of all the frightening details that she describes, and that's one of the things that made this such a compelling read for me

  6. I'm also trying to widen my reading horizons and read some more sophisticated stuff too, and seeing as I love YA dystopians, it seems like a good idea to try a classic dystopian! I first heard of this when people likened Wither by Lauren DeStefano to it and it definitely sounds like a great book, although perhaps challenging.
    Great Review!

    Catherine :)
    The Book Parade

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