Monday, May 28, 2007

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Audio Book)

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood

Narrator: Barbara Cunningham

First Published: 1985

Running time: 8hrs, 14min, 23sec

Format: Audio Book

Rating: 7/10

Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs...

I wonder why it is that Dystopian Future novels seem to focus mainly on sex and imposing rules upon people when it comes to personal relationships? As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, sex is seen here as something that should be under the strictest regulation, but in this novel, women are both exalted as bringers of life, and subjected to life as second-class citizens under the rule of “Commanders”. I’d heard a fair bit about The Handmaid’s Tale prior to listening to this audio recording of the novel – all of it good, but this didn’t quite live up to my expectations. There’s no doubt that it was well written and well-plotted, but much of it seemed highly implausible to me and the relationship between Offred and her Commander seemed trite, whereas the so-called love affair between Offred and Nick was decidedly passionless, even in comparison.

That said, the scenes in the Red Centre (where the Handmaids are “trained”) and those scenes where the women are involved in particicution (partaking in the persecution of another as a group, whether blaming a fellow woman for her “wanton ways” prior to the change in society, or beating a man to death for his crimes against women) were charged with a certain electricity that makes it all seem shockingly real.

It may not be the best book I have ever read, but it’s certainly one I’m glad to have experienced – “experienced” really is the right word for it, as it’s impossible not to be affected by this novel – and I look forward to reading more of Atwood’s work in the future.


Post a Comment

<< Home