Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Series: The Handmaid’s Tale, #1
I eagerly reserved The Handmaid’s Tale in anticipation of reading the next instalment in the series The Testaments shortly thereafter. Reading it just before Christmas 2019, it was as I remembered a taut, almost terrifying read of a world that seemed scarily entirely too real.
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 births, 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 . . .Goodreads
This new version included a foreword by the author Margaret Atwood. . It was useful, as I do not watch the tv version (missed the first season and it kind of drifted off my radar), so not up to speed on the wider universe. Reading it gave valuable insight into unasked questions, that I was pleased to know the answers to.
I really appreciated rereading the novel itself. Appreciated in the sense that I got to re imagine Gilead from this 21st century point of view. It’s not enjoyable to read about brutality, repression and restriction per se, but without doubt, it is a rewarding book. I read it primarily from the stance of living in 2020 and considered if that were to happen now the magnitude of loss would be profound…well for me anyway.
The United Nations declared internet access to be a human right in 2016, and achieving universal access is one target of its Sustainable Development Goals. I don’t want to imagine living in a world where information is easily accessible, where most people have it at their fingertips and then having that taken away. Having freedom, the liberty to make your own decisions, to act with impunity, removed because of your gender and social class would be tragic. The enforced servitude and assigned roles based on fertility and not capability or qualification, losing the right to read any kind of material, view any media that isn’t state controlled, would be hard to stand. It is difficult to contemplate whether the physical or emotional abuse would hurt the hardest.
I’m not sure what is worse being forced into a gendered role or being cut off from knowing.
A terrifyingly brilliant read
4 Stars – Really Liked It