I read this when it was first published in the 1980's and bought the Kindle and re-read it when I knew the series was being released recently. Told from a very intimate first person narration, 'The Handmaid's Tale' provides a gripping account of a young woman's struggle in a nightmare society in a dystopian future. Following a cataclysmic event, democracy is overturned, a progressive 'normal' Western society becomes an oppressive regime where women's civil rights and freedoms are things of the past.
This dystopia destroys individuality and freedom to achieve the perfect society. 'The Handmaid's Tale' takes place in the Republic of Gilead, where there is a caste system and strict rules to keep the community in order and to save the population by having complete control over reproduction.
The heroine, Offred, is now a Handmaid. She has borne a child, so since she is known to be fertile she is placed with a family who have been unable to conceive their own child. Any child she bears now will stay with Fred and his wife, while Offred will move to a new family (and receive a new name, since Handmaids are named for the head of the household where they live). "Humanity is so adaptable, my mother would say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations." - Offred
The Handmaid's Tale is like the best science fiction, themes in the book expose larger social commentary, holding our own society up to a confronting mirror.
It is chilling. Atwood is an excellent writer, and the subject is profound. If you haven't read this book, I urge you to. I will now watch the series...
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