Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodTitle: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Narrator: Claire Danes
Audiobook Length: 11 hours
Genre: Science Fiction
Origins: Purchased
Release Date: 1 January 1985
Bottom Line: Truly frightening and one of the most uncomfortable stories to hear read aloud

“After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.”

Thoughts: Claire Danes is a wonderful narrator for this particular story. Her performance is matter-of-fact with just a hint of the emotional trauma of Offred’s experiences. She is a woman trying desperately to narrate a nightmare by keeping all emotion at bay. That she fails at times only adds to the story and to Ms. Danes’ performance because those cracks in the façade are more brutally honest than anything she states. It is a powerful story made even more heart-wrenching by Ms. Danes’ taut performance.

The Handmaid’s Tale is truly an appalling story. Indeed, Ms. Danes’ performance makes it more horrifying than a normal horror story. The evolution of the Republic of Gilead and the formation of the Handmaids are too realistic and possible for comfort, and the fates of Offred’s daughter/husband/friends/fellow women confirm that uncomfortable truth. The story loses none of its horror upon repeat readings either, indicating just how powerful and frightening a story it really is. The Handmaid’s Tale is truly a force of nature and a must-read for all women if not for everyone, as it is an vital warning against religious extremism and the radical actions such views can take.

12 Responses to Audiobook Review – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  1. Ti
    March 14, 2014 | 10:47 AM

    I have read this twice. Twice! And yet, the details are sketchy for me. I remember it being hard to read, subject matter wise.

    • Michelle
      March 14, 2014 | 3:20 PM

      Exactly. The subject matter is very scary, to me at least. I still say it is one of the more probable future outcomes to hit the printed page ever.

  2. Carrie K.
    March 14, 2014 | 9:46 PM

    I’ve read this twice – once in high school, when the true terror of it was completely lost on me – and once a couple years ago. Atwood is brilliant, and this is definitely a must-read.

    • Michelle
      March 16, 2014 | 10:30 AM

      Right. The first time I read it, I think I was too young. The true horror of Offred’s situation really struck home this time around. Absolutely chilling.

  3. susan
    March 15, 2014 | 9:06 PM

    I’ve read quite a few of her books but this one (her most famous) escaped me somehow. But I do plan to sometime. It sounds utterly chilling.

    • Michelle
      March 16, 2014 | 10:30 AM

      This is the only one of Atwood’s novels I have read. I have every plan to read others because I am just so impressed by what she was able to accomplish in The Handmaid’s Tale.

  4. […] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood […]

  5. Tif
    March 17, 2014 | 1:16 PM

    I am pretty sure that we have already chatted about this book. Next time, I need to read a physical book and really soak it in. This book has bothered me more than any horror novel, but you are right … it is one that needs to be read.

    • Michelle
      March 17, 2014 | 8:06 PM

      I think we did. That’s okay! We can talk some more! 😉

  6. Lisa
    March 29, 2014 | 9:40 PM

    I think this one is so horrifying because it could so easily happen. In fact, the way things are moving these days, I begin to fear that it will. Which is a bad thing for a woman who is beyond childbearing years!

    • Michelle
      March 30, 2014 | 4:51 PM

      Exactly. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of imagination to see it happening to us in the near future. And yes, it scares me beyond belief!

  7. […] has a decent likelihood of coming true. Margaret Atwood understood this when writing her brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale. Leni Zumas is just one more author to capitalize on this fact in her novel, Red Clocks. Whereas […]

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