The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’ve been wanting to read this for years but I discovered that the TV series was being shown in the UK I knew I had to get my hands on it before I could indulge. Luckily, a colleague offered to lend it to me so I could get crack right away.

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…

If I’m honest, it took me a while to get into the book and adjusted to Atwood’s style of writing. I’m not sure if it was just the way she wrote or whether I need to peek my interest in the story more but I couldn’t jump straight into the storyline. I persisted, and it got better but there wasn’t an instant love.

It also took a while to get a bit of getting used to with all the names and assigned names and what their roles were. As it was a whole new dystopia, and the circumstances weren’t laid out all instantaneously, I found myself a bit lost at the beginning until I could get my head around everything. Once I did though, the depth of the scouts that Atwood had created was incredible.

It was a bit jaunty in places in terms of storyline and each paragraph was almost like a whole new thought. It was an interest process to follow and really reflected Offred’s mind but again meant it took me a while to get used to the style.

I really got into the book towards the middle as I became started to become gripped by the storyline. I thought the retelling of how Gilead became the way it was was so interesting. The book really came into it’s own and started to properly resonate with me.

I thought Offred was a good character to follow. There was balance within her character which meant the story as well was told well.

What will stick with me the most is how heart breaking it was to read the sudden change in law and stripping of women’s rights. The suddeness of it, and how it was portrayed caught me off guard. I found nyself reading it out to people around me as I couldn’t quite believe it. But, at the same time it was completely believeable and could happen any time. Pretty horrific that it is still revelant now as it was 30 years ago. Also, the ‘Ceremony’ was horrific to read but needed within the book. These scenes are what really stood out to me and makes the book what it is.

After a shaky start, this is definitely a book I’d recommend anyone to read. There are such prominent thoughts within it that I know will stick with me for a very long time.

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