BookTalk: The Handmaid’s Tale

I first read this book as apart of a reading list for English Lit and it was easily my favourite of them. Normally for me,  I find that any novels studied in a class setting, are slightly difficult to get along with; reading maybe, a chapter a week breaks up the narrative, to such an extent that it becomes almost impossible to be absorbed by the story and it’s characters in the same way, I would be with a book read in my own time. A previous English teacher of mine would always recommend this book and so in an attempt to stop this from reoccurring, at all costs, I went to Waterstones one day early last summer and spent the next two days continuously reading this book. I could not put it down.

As always I won’t divulge too much information regarding the plot. I fully recommend reading if you haven’t. Or even if you have, re-reading is always an option… just saying.

The Blurb is as follows:

Handmaids 3
Atwood herself rejects the labelling of Sci -fi over dystopian; stating that the novel follows events which have or do happen but taken to their extreme conclusions – which I feel is a really thought provoking concept and one of the reasons this book has stick with me.

The best way I can glaze over the plot without giving too much away is that, in this society, fear derived from drastically falling population rates (as a result of nuclear pollution) leads to a chain of reactions that start subtlety but continue to build momentum –  an overthrown government manipulates religious texts to support their new regime. A regime which reduces everyone purely down to the function they serve in that society. A function definitely chosen for and not necessarily by its people.

For my course we looked at this novel from the perspective of social and political protesting writing and specifically feminist criticism. I just love this book, have I mentioned that yet… oh, what I have? That’s a shame because I LOvE this book!

I thought this would be a good time to discuss it. I’m actually watching episode 6 of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ right now. As I sat down to start writing today I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it deviates from the narrative according to the book and increasingly so with this episode. I started the series just before my exams as a way  of taking a break from revision… without feeling guilty about it. 😂  The book itself is metafiction and solely from Offred’s perspective. (Offred being that protagonist of the book set in a society called Gilead wherein there is a totalitarian regime and hierarchy such as: Commanders, Wives, Aunts, Handmaids, Econowives, Marthas, Ritas and the Un-women. Within this the handmaid’s are stripped of their identities and are simply referred to as Of *the name of the commander of the household they belong to* for instance, Fred.) Also, another way in which they are controlled is through language which is highly restricted, many books are burnt and women aren’t allowed to read or write in any way. Although in episode 6 she reveals her name whereas in the book she revels her name to Nick but not the us, which led me to believe that she trusts him more than the assumed reader.

I was discussing the new series with some friends yesterday as there is currently a lot of hype surrounding it and I’ve decided that don’t mind that it is embellished. ( I thought I did to start with, but creative licence and all that…) I think it helped with my revision to be honest because I had to sit there while I was watching it and remind myself of what did and didn’t happen in the book by comparison. I guess it would be a little unusual if it weren’t different in anyway. The series opens new opportunities for audiences to know more than a reader – whose only source of information is that which is specifically within Offred’s own grasp. In a way its sort of great isn’t it? I mean, through the adaption there are some answers I really wished I could ask when reading the book, despite the series being arguably darker. Also, Atwood stated that the “series goes farther” than she did with the book.

I’d love to hear whether you’ve read this book and your thoughts, if you’ve tried the series, or maybe are now considering it or even vice versa?