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on 8 July 2017
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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on 17 May 2018
Offred is a Handmaid - a sex slave to a man in a powerful position in a post-apocalyptic state in the former USA. Her role is necessary as many women are sterile and only the powerful are allowed the privilege of a Handmaid. But she has memories of the time before this autocratic, quasi-religious state came into being. She yearns for the past and the freedoms that she, and most others, no longer have, and for her lost husband and child. Most people are suppressed and only a few privileged men benefit from the autocratic society. Families have been broken up, fertile women become sex slaves, older and infertile women who are not wives of privileged men are sent to the colonies, men without power become soldiers if they are lucky, and a lucky few manage to escape across the border. The story is grim from beginning to end but a glimmer of hope is seen at the end.

This is a story that shows when things go wrong in society, things could descend into a dark place. And it suggests that women, in particular, could suffer most. It’s not pretty, but then when a revolution happens, things are not pretty. In my opinion, there is a suggestion here that when people are apathetic about their government, groups with narrow interests can take over - something that is reflected in the current US government and splinter movements elsewhere.

This is a powerful story that shows the worst that society can descend to. I give the story 4 stars out of 5.
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on 25 April 2018
I struggled to get into this one. It was written in the first person and many events and situations were not explained enough for me. I even resorted to Wikipedia to read their plot summary. I thought that by reading this novel before watching the TV series would help my comprehension, but not as much as I would have liked. The second half of the book held my interest more than the first half.
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on 5 August 2017
Tense and eerie, set as a viseral possibility even decades after it's release. Genius that leaves you with a palpable lingering echo of what could be a very believable alternate history/future (especially in these 'Trump Dynastic' times). The bonus foreword by Atwood adds texture to the novel and also the current TV series...of note was her 'synergy' of events; that every event (a 'rule' for the book) must have happened in our history before (in some form). The human condition rendered raw. Terrifying.
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on 2 October 2017
A brilliant look inside the life of Offred as she has to adapt to life as a breeder (handmaid) in the brutal dystopian society which has developed in parts of the US. The only part that let it down, in my view, was the lengthy professorial explanation years afterwards. I'd have preferred to let my imagination come to its own conclusion.
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on 13 November 2017
This book Illuminates the TV version making it a must read. Recommended to anyone interested in knowing why we should be vigilant about extreme and populist movements.
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on 13 February 2018
Brilliant, I didn't want it to end. Makes viewing the TV series so much more enjoyable. The preface by the author explained the premise which showed how very possible it could be. Very relevant to today.
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on 12 April 2018
I found this book little hard to get into but after reading few chapters & watching the tv series enjoyed the book more .
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on 17 June 2018
A detailed, thought provoking story, compelling in bringing forth the very real sense that this kind of distopia is entirely possible in real life. Detailed in its savagery, Atwood brings you to the edge of your seat and keeps you there until the very last line. Highly recommended.
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on 15 September 2017
Margaret Atwood. What can one say except classic. Now enjoying the television series.
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