The Handmaid's Tale (tv Tie-in Edition) by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale (tv Tie-in Edition) by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale (tv Tie-in Edition)

byMargaret Atwood

Paperback | March 28, 2017

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#1 New York Times bestseller

In this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate “Handmaids” under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the “time before” and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.
MARGARET ATWOOD, whose work has been published in more than forty-five countries, is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series, her novels include Cat’s Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which wo...
Title:The Handmaid's Tale (tv Tie-in Edition)Format:PaperbackProduct dimensions:384 pages, 8.01 × 5.19 × 0.97 inShipping dimensions:8.01 × 5.19 × 0.97 inPublished:March 28, 2017Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735253307

ISBN - 13:9780735253308


Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Feelings I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it. Obviously, the conditions the narrator and the women around her are forced to endure are an important social commentary, but I wish that there were more details about the characters.
Date published: 2019-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book! I was reading this book for English class and the details and how many things connect with each other amazes me. I love her style in this book. Overall I really enjoyed reading this book!
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I really enjoyed this book! I am so surprised by the many negative comments. I couldn't put this book down! I finished in just a few days but really it's what got me back into reading. I loved it, and i think with most books you need to read past the 1st chapter in order to get yourself into it.
Date published: 2019-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Way over rated I couldn't even get through the first half of this book. I think it is really over-rated and wouldn't recommend it.
Date published: 2019-03-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Way over rated I couldn't even get through the first half of this book. I think it is really over-rated and wouldn't recommend it.
Date published: 2019-03-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Realistic world that's not too far off from ours. Atwood paints the picture of a world that you can easily imagine as real. While the writing style is not my favourite (personal preference), the novel is well written and really throws you into the world.
Date published: 2018-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love Great read. If you haven't read it but watched the series on tv, read the book totally different.
Date published: 2018-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book! Amazing book, would recommend to everyone to read.
Date published: 2018-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Club Read Loved this book! Such a great read for a book club!
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved this! I had heard this book was really out there and weird and had been completely uninterested in reading it until I saw it on a sale and decided to find out what it was really about. I am sooo glad I didn't listen to the craziness I had heard! It is Science Fiction and Dystopia, its going to be weird! I found her references to "the way it was" very relatable and the world they currently live in was not soo crazy out-there that it was unbelievable! It was a relatively quick read, highly recommended!
Date published: 2018-08-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from ugh Book club choice, and couldn't get through it. Really not a fan of Margret Atwood, find her writing achingly painful to read
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I bought this book after watching the first season of the show and absolutely loved it! Best beginning of the TV series I have ever read!
Date published: 2018-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite One of my favourite books to read and think about. Margaret Atwood's books are classic. Very glad it has been made into a TV series!
Date published: 2018-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Feminist Dystopia One of the best pieces of dystopian literature I have had the pleasure to read. Margaret Atwood’s style is poetic, poignant, and devastatingly honest. An expressive and deeply important piece for anyone who is interested in female perspectives on totalitarian regimes. I cannot recommend enough for absolutely anyone interested in science fiction, dystopias, and feminist literature.
Date published: 2018-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love! I love this book. Dark, terrifying, and thrilling. This isn't my go-to genre, but I couldn't put it down. The first season of the TV show is very true to the book.
Date published: 2018-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Glad I read it I watched the TV series first then went back and read the book. I enjoyed both the series and the book. It is thought provoking and definitely cringe worthy at times. Definitely worth reading either before or watching the series.
Date published: 2018-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ‘Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.’ (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.) What was once the United States of America is now the Republic of Gilead, a religion-based totalitarian regime, where the women have no rights. They can’t read, write, or work, their identity depends on the men who control them. The setting is in the late 80s/early 90s, and Offred is a Handmaid, whose sole purpose is to reproduce, as fertility continues to decline in that age. Along with all this, Offred reminisces about the past, her time with her husband, her daughter, her freedom… Honestly, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this book or not. Dystopian books aren’t really my thing, but it was so highly recommended that I couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I read this. It’s changed my views on a lot of things. The scariest thing about this book is how relevant it still is in recent times. This book is like a feminist’s worst nightmare, and what chilled me so much was how easily I could depict the world Atwood has painted for us. Just look at the Middle East. How many rights have women got so far? Or even take me for an example. I am an 18 year old girl living in Karachi who has never stepped out of my house here alone, without a chaperone. Do you know how suffocating that can get sometimes? The only reason I mention this is because, the circumstances are different from the book, and this most definitely doesn’t apply to everyone, but this remains a fact: Were I a boy, no one would have any qualms about me going out alone. Why this kolaveri di, eh? This book show’s us Offred’s struggle, and her eventually succumbing to their kind of thinking, being only a means of reproduction. Think of it, if suddenly one day you are fired and have your bank account and several other things revoked, just because of being a woman, something that’s not in your control, how would you feel? How would you feel knowing the only reason you live is because of your fertility? This book touches on many questions, and the ending is ambiguous. It’s up to you, and the important part is, there should always be hope. The writing style takes a while to get used to, but it’s all worth it. Recommended to you all.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good read but very sci-fi This book wasn't to my tastes at all but I can appreciate that many people really like it. The writing style was very modern. I've heard it's very different than the tv show but I've never seen the show.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Relevant I loved this book! The story is especially relevant today. It is a difficult read, but it's definitely an eye-opener.
Date published: 2018-08-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Worth It A stark reminder of why I do not like Margaret Atwood as an author. A book that was chosen for book club. Was on my to read list, but it will be a long time before I pick up another MA book. The half formed thoughts of the main character were hard to follow. It was a book that was hard to put down, kept reading hoping it would get better and it just didn't.
Date published: 2018-08-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad Okay so the beginning of the book is horrible. I mean, it was flat out BORING. Very long... But it did get interesting after a LONG while. So I would recommend it but if you are an impatient reader like I am, it's not worth it.
Date published: 2018-08-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I REALLY wanted to like it This was a "bucket list" book for me - even before the series started. Unfortunately it's also the book that sealed my "I don't care for Margaret Atwood" decision. I loved Alias Grace, but this was my third MA novel, and I just can't get into it. There is so much hype about the book and the story, and I can totally understand why. I get it, I see it, and I know why it's so important to discuss as a society the issues this book brings to the people. I just don't care for the writing. I wanted to - I REALLY wanted to like it.
Date published: 2018-07-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Shocking This book was difficult to read. It depicts a dystopian society that is so hard to swallow that I had to take breaks while reading the book. In general, it provides an insight into the life of a sex slave and the tragic part is that sex slavery is a current world issue. While this is just a story to me, it is another woman's reality.
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Dystopian Modern Tale Thoroughly enjoyed this novel! Had me invested from the first to the last page. If you are a fan of Dystopian novels you will love this book. Margaret Atwood is a literary genius and the fact she wrote this in 1985 is incredible. It had such a modern writing style that made it easy and entertaining to read. Be careful not to compare the TV series and book. Very two different stories, with similar events. Both were great!
Date published: 2018-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could. Not. Put. Down. I truly could not put this book down. The book is captivating right from the start. Margaret Atwood's writing leaves the reader experiencing all of the things the main character feels, sees, and thinks. It is very easy to get lost within these pages.
Date published: 2018-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thrilling The language was amazing; I fell in love with this novel and its Orwellian take on the role of women in society. The writing style was strange, which actually enticed me to read further. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of female clothing and the act of "conceiving" in an America devastated by nuclear war.
Date published: 2018-07-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Ok It was ok. I found it a little slow but still worth the read.
Date published: 2018-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love this book I read this book for an English class and was honestly very interesting, yet has some dark elements to it.
Date published: 2018-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Terrifyingly close to reality Read this classic and felt that the reality of Atwood's fictional world is far too visible. Very well written and I felt like I was experiencing the character's reality.
Date published: 2018-07-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Handmaid's Tale An insightful book into a potential future. The writing style felt strange to me, which made me distance myself.
Date published: 2018-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! The first book I've read by Atwood. Definitely a dark, different novel but really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from love it read it as a teenager and now again in my 30s - surprisingly relevant and ''modern' - excellent writing and plot
Date published: 2018-07-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dull This book tended to be really dull, especially since I had high hopes for it after watching the show.
Date published: 2018-07-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Overrated. I was so disappointed with this book. There had been so much hype about it with the series coming out, I thought I had to get my hands on it to read and then likely watch the series. Throughout the book I just kept waiting for it to get better, but instead it got worse. The ending was horrible, and frankly so was the erst of the book. I won't be watching the series, either.
Date published: 2018-07-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was pretty good Honestly, with all the hype I thought it was going to be amazing...however I found it pretty dull. For most of the book it seemed as if nothing happened...and I really was disappointed in the end. Not a bad book, but not my favorite.
Date published: 2018-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book! Already recommended this book and lent out my copy. Great book!
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I read this before the series came out. Love her futuristic dystopian novels, including this one.
Date published: 2018-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Good I love Margaret Atwood and her writing style is one of my favourites, open endings are in my opinion just as amazing! Really recommend it but it was slow at parts and in the beginning. Still great!
Date published: 2018-06-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book I read the book after watching season one of series. I find the the book to be equal if not better than the show. The 1990 movie, I did not find true to the book.
Date published: 2018-06-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Yuck I think this could have been a good book to read if it was written better. Was very dry and jumped around too much. Was soooooo disappointed.....I really wanted to like thus book but for once I think watching it will be better than reading it.
Date published: 2018-06-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing! After falling in love with the TV series i naturally decided that I just had to get my hands on the book as well. Atwood created this truly terrifying world that really stuck with me even after I finished reading this. The story is incredible and truly makes you wonder the lengths at which people will go to achieve what they believe is "for the greater good." A must read if you love stories about dystopias !! I only gave it four stars because i wished it had ended differently and with more closure about the main character - however, we're getting to see that on the tv series at least!
Date published: 2018-06-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Read At times it was a little bit to get into and can be a bit dry, but overall good read and easy to understand. I would recommend it to an older audience (probably in high school) because some things can be a bit much (descriptive), which may be overwhelming to some.
Date published: 2018-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down This book had me on the edge of my seat. Can't stop recommending it to friends.
Date published: 2018-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read A scary look from one women's eyes at how things can change so fast and how adaptable women are even under great duress. The world building is amazing, and agreed with other reviews that reading the book and watching the show near or around the same time actually works as a nice compliment to each.
Date published: 2018-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could Not Put It Down Fantastic book - admittedly, I read it because there were so many rave reviews about the show so I love to read the book behind any show/movie prior to. I was not disappointed - Margaret Atwood is a master of storytelling. I became deeply invested in each character which forced me to stick with it to the end.
Date published: 2018-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I still get cold chills when I think of this book and its themes I read this when it was new, decades ago, when I was young. At that time, some of the freedoms that were lost to the women were relatively new freedoms that had just been gained. (Being able to open a bank account without a husband's consent.) Once won, we think that freedoms and opportunities would be ours forever and it was chilling to see how easily they were taken away again. And how easily it was explained that this was no big deal or that our loved ones (her husband) did not see this as an issue. I could see that arguments for forced continuation of pregnancies "to give the child to someone who wants it" that can seem like a good outcome for all, can actually turn out so badly. I have not read this for a long time, but the sense of dread that came to me when I did read it are very readily recalled as soon as I think of this book.
Date published: 2018-05-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Awesome Could not put this story down since first picking it up. The ending was disappointing but fair, onlu because I was so invested in the characters but a fantastic read
Date published: 2018-05-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from alright It's a little slow, and parts can get very unnecessarily detailed but overall the story-line is very different from others and well done.
Date published: 2018-05-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a classic Margaret Atwood has completely outdone herself with this novel. Every sentence is a masterpiece and it all builds together to create a riveting story. This book is a must-read. I also highly recommend watching the tv show. Most books are ruined for me when they are made into movie or shows but this series compliments the book very well.
Date published: 2018-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from critical reading If you have any interest in dystopia, feminism, or human rights then this is the book for you. excellent!
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book I loved this book. It was a great read and I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2018-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Outstanding read. Short chapters make it easy to navigate through. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I read a lot and this is probably my favorite book. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happens. Beautifully written #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pleasantly surprised I was skeptical about the book because this story has been so hyped up with the TV series now out (i haven't seen it - wanted to read the book first). It quickly got my attention and was a great read!
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Thoughtful Read! Given today's climate, this is a very important read. Admittedly, there are some disturbing parts - but the book's overall message is very worth it!
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book This book was SO disturbing, but so important. And I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t in love with the ending, but I understand it.
Date published: 2018-05-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Meh - not as good as everyone mentioned to be nor as good as I heard Numerous people mentioned to me how disturbing this book is. Nowhere near as disturbing as I'd been told is all I can say. I do appreciate the setting, characters and ending....though I was a bit bored in the middle. It's an easy read. Looking forward to the show as my girlfriend bought the Bluray and was waiting for me to finish. Obviously it's one of a many peoples favorite book, which I get and respect. But comes nowhere near to a very good book for me. Sorry. If you want a "disturbing" book, read Ellis' 'American Psycho', Nick Tosches' 'Me and the Devil' or 'Tampa' by Alissa Nutting. Those 3 books are pretty f**ked up and amazing.
Date published: 2018-05-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from very good I listened to the special edition audiobook, with Claire Danes as narrator, I quite liked it. I think it’s my favourite audiobook so far, very disturbing and good. I found nick role smaller then I thought it would be listening to all the spoilers around.
Date published: 2018-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! I bought this a month ago and I'm so glad I did! #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I first read this book in a second year university lit class, and have been re-reading it ever since. The story is so raw and visceral. It makes you uncomfortable because of how close to home the themes in this book are to real life. I would recommend it to everyone
Date published: 2018-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Disturbing & wonderful This book was disturbing to me, and that is why I loved it so much. The world is so well developed by Atwood. She doesn't hand you details of how everything works, you are just thrust into it. I loved how the story was told as if you would understand how the world had changed. I was surprised at the end & I thought it was a very unique take, unlike anything else I had read before.
Date published: 2018-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite Book I have read and re-read this book over many years, and I as I change and grow, so too does my reaction to this book. I draw new lessons from this book every time I open it and immerse myself in Atwood's dystopic horror. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Date published: 2018-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different I think different is the best word for it. Unique. I went into it thinking there were only a few ways it could end: her resigned to her fate, escaping to Canada or killing herself. And instead it went in a completely different direction and left me feeling angry and confused. But I guess you couldn't end it in any other way without it falling into cliche. The world building she created was incredible - the detail was fantastic and the way she thought of everything was exhausting. Relating everything to the past and the story she was telling was so fluid and complex. I'm not sure how fond I was of the main character. I thought she was selfish especially in relation to the death of her friend who ran errands with her. She didn't care at all that she was dead just that she was safe. I hated the Commander with a passion for him "buying" her attention and affection so he could feel like a desirable and important man. To prevent another suicide and his hollow guilt because it implies the system doesn't work. There was so much going on here I will need to go into the show to try and figure out more of what was happening but I do recommend it. Because it is so close to what is happening in real life and we need to have this awareness.
Date published: 2018-04-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good A very good read! So different and unique from most novels. Could not put it down
Date published: 2018-04-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! This book is a really great read that everyone should read. It also fits in perfectly with current affairs. Overall, a very powerful book. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant! There are no other words for this book.
Date published: 2018-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! Absolutely loved it. It was my first Atwood novel and I would recommended everyone to start with this book if you are a first time reader of her work. Very relatable to the current affairs. I wish there was a sequel to this.
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! With all the hype surrounding the series, I knew I had to check out the novel and it didn't disappointing. I watched the show after finishing the book and both were excellent - the setting and details are different enough that you don't compare the two too closely, and you still get fun surprises in both.
Date published: 2018-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! At first, I was hesitant to read this book because I've heard of the unique way Atwood writes, and wasn't sure that this style would be something I could enjoy. I started reading a sample of the book via an e-reader, just to test it out before I bought a physical copy. The first chapter had me hooked and I knew I was going to have to purchase the book. Admittedly, at some points, the plot moves a bit slow, but the character development and the story building are fantastic and it really leaves you thinking that although this is fiction, it could very well be real life. A great read and I definitely recommend!
Date published: 2018-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great read, excellent companion edition/pre-screening material for the series I rarely buy movie or TV-tie-in covered editions of books, but as this was only the second Atwood I've owned, I actually preferred this cover to the more generic (It also includes a new preface or afterword from Atwood, I believe). Atwood's prose isn't to everyone's taste, and a lot plays out much differently and I found the storytelling even darker and more bleak than the series, but it does provide an effective endpoint for Offred's tale. Definitely worth a second glance if you've ever hesitated with this before.
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good read It's a brilliant book, and the message is so powerful and relevant. The reason I'm noting giving it a 5 is just I feel like the pace is a bit too slow, but that's just because I like page turners in general. Overall I would definitely recommend this.
Date published: 2018-03-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read Had to read this book in high school and loved it! I found the plot very intriguing and had some parts that made me feel uncomfortable but thats what I loved about it! Definitely going to read it again when I can read it at my own pace and fully enjoy the book.
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it, could not put it down I bought this to read on vacation because of all the hype from the TV show. I will admit I had watched 2 episodes of the show on Bravo and immediately said "I need to read that book". The book was great, makes you think about a lot of things that are going on in the world right now. My only compliant is the ending, I had hoped for another book possibly.
Date published: 2018-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I have never read a book like this before and it was so good!!! the writing is amazing but I will tell you I do not think I could live in a state like that
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing book I have never experienced a book where I was hanging on every single word. As the details of this dystopia unraveled, I found myself cringing and asking why or how? Yet, at the same time so real and foreseeable in our own society. I believe everyone should read this novel, as cheesy as it sounds it truly is a life changing experience.
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Had to read in High School, but enjoyed it! I was assigned to read this in High School and I gotta say, it's a great book to get you started into Atwood. Dystopian book readers will enjoy this quite a bit!
Date published: 2018-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this book I read this book in high school and didnt pay much attention or appreciate it, but after watching the show recently, i re-read this book and absoloutly loved it. Worth a read #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Ah-Mazing! Fantastic writing, Atwood transports you to a whole new world! Highly recommend to all.
Date published: 2018-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super Easy to Write and Essay On Read this in high school for school. Easiest essay and best seminar I ever did. <3
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not a fan I found this book rather one dimensional. That her excellent ideas of a future life were not well portrayed in the story line. I liked the mention of Trump even though written over 30 years ago.
Date published: 2018-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! This was the first Atwood novel I ever read. It was very well written! Atwood created a whole new world in this novel and really knows how to draw the reader in. It is an easy read and not very long! I was not a huge fan of the ending, however.
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I cannot believe I waited this long to pickup this book. Not only is this book smart and surprisingly relevant today, it also contains some of the most beautiful writing I've ever seen. Atwood excels at world-building while at the same time giving us a deep glimpse into the main character's thoughts and emotions.
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read This was the first book I read by Atwood. Such a great read and can't wait to watch the television series.
Date published: 2018-03-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great gift though i'm not an Atwood fan, this was a perfect gift for my mother-in-law who enjoyed the television series
Date published: 2018-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning novel One of the most compelling books I've read in a long time. I absolutely loved this novel. I would recommend this to anybody!
Date published: 2018-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read! Fantastic writing and compelling characters! If you love the series, you'll love this book even more.
Date published: 2018-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Timeless Like many people in 2016-17, a combination of politics and buzz around a popular TV remake caused me to push this book to the top of my to-read list, and I'm very glad it was, because it has a very important message. This book was written in the Eighties at a time when feminist movements were being combated by more religiously promoted feminine traditionalist movements, and televangelists were swiftly gaining popularity. So in a sense, this book was very timely when it was written, and you can catch hints of these culture wars in the protagonist's memories of her mother (the classic feminist) and in the description of the wife of the household she resides in (a traditionalist). That said, it is also timeless in the way that for all the progress we seem to make over the years, we are still stuck in a world where men dictate policy, while women are often stuck in subservient roles and controlled by guilt and obligation. Because of this culture, it feels like we are one crisis away from a future that could look very much like the one described in this book. The one problem I had with this book is that it felt like it was written for the purpose of being studied; in fact the final chapter hints quite strongly that that is the author's intent. For that reason it felt slightly too academic, despite the fact that it is written in the style of a diary. Nevertheless, there are so many poignant characters and quotable moments in this book that I have no doubt it will stand the test of time and become a true classic. Hopefully one day we can look back on it and be thankful that these fears are no longer warranted, but for now this book feels eerily relevant.
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I enjoyed every twist and turn of Offred's story. It's a cold world, barren in so many ways. Margaret Atwood knows how to tell a story. Loved this one.
Date published: 2018-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An absolute favorite! This book is one of my absolute favorites! It's one of the 10 books everybody should read before they die!
Date published: 2018-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing One of my faves from Atwood to date....a true page turner!
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pertinent and Thought Provoking Being the uncultured swine that I am, I hadn't read "The Handmaid's Tale" yet, but with the hubub surrounding its recent television adaptation (which I haven't seen either), I decided to give it ago. I was expecting a dry and laborious read (à la Brave New World), but I found, instead, an "unputdownable" story, devoured in less than twelve hours. I'm glad to finally see a pop-culture craze over something so worthwhile and pertinent.
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing story.... Wish there was a better ending I truly loved this tale! it is a twist on modern times with a flare of the olden, religious days. My only issue was the ending, I felt that the story didn't truly end and I didn't know what to make of it. However, it is one of my new favorite books. So glad I've read this! Recommended for everyone #plumreview
Date published: 2018-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For sure read this. This gives you all new insight that goes beyond the tv episodes. It was a classic the minute it was written.
Date published: 2018-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A whole new perspective. When I first read this 20 years ago it was just a story. A really good story but a story nonetheless. Reading it again in the context of Donald Trump as president was completely different and completely terrifying. Now it's clear that what Atwood imagined wasn't quite as far fetched as we hoped.
Date published: 2018-02-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book I had been meaning to read this book for a while and I did enjoy it when I finally got around to it; however it wasn't one of my favourite dystopian fiction books.
Date published: 2018-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If you like dystopian fiction, this book is for you This book was a requirement for a university English class and glad it was. It would never be a book I would have picked out for myself. I really enjoyed it and even recommended it to a few people. The dystopian tone of the book is eerily similar to current political events. Even though this book is fiction, it’s not terribly far fetched, which I enjoyed.
Date published: 2018-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well, I'm struggling to word how I feel about this book. I didn't hate it by any means. I never had a problem picking up my Kobo and reading. I wasn't annoyed by the voice or the characters. However... I didn't love it? I'm not shouting off the rooftops that this is one of the best books ever. I'm very middle of the road towards it and my overall reaction is that of a shrug. I can understand WHY it's important and the eeriness that this type of future could be just around the corner. I just never felt any strong reaction for the story, however. The ending also left something to be desire. I was certainly irked when I went to the next page and there weren't any more.
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Read I had read this book in high school, and I wasn't a fan. Re-reading it without any assignments to do, did make the book more enjoyable. Set in the future, but eerily echos what is happening in the US at the moment, and makes you wonder how far off the US is from a society that is similar to the Republic of Gilead. Margaret Atwood, a Canadian Treasure, is a wonderful author and this book is very well written. The plot makes you think, the characters are interesting, and the story flows well. Everyone seems to love this book, but I'm not a fan. I would still recommend this book- it is an engaging and thought-provoking read. I can see why others like it.
Date published: 2018-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed it! I could not put this book down. I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2018-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It's a solid read It was my first book by the author and it's good! I can't compare between the book and the TV show, but from what I've heard the TV show is really good as well!
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eye Opener When I was reading this book, I was incredibly shocked at how Atwood can deliver and invoke such powerful messages all while keeping up with an interesting dystopian plot. Better than the TV show, and it has won many awards- buy this book!
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I can't believe it has taken me so long to read this novel. It was beautiful, even when it made me sad. I would definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2018-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic The book is so, so good, I prefer the book to the tv series.
Date published: 2018-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Just Finished #plumreview this book is a reminder of what the future holds if we're not careful and it was written from the perspective of someone so real and flawed, she could be any one of us
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just read it Enthralling and a little frightening
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking Not my favourite Margaret Atwood book despite it being the most famous. Still a very interesting read, seems relevant to think about today.
Date published: 2018-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dark, Empowering, Frighteningly close to reality Let me begin by saying I would give this book a 5/5 if the hardcover had been available when I purchased. That aside, its a dark, chilling, and blunt perspective of patriarchal control. If you are a fan of 1984 and futuristic dystopias, this should be on your book shelf.
Date published: 2018-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love! Once I began to read this novel, there was no stopping. It was so hard to put down. The perfect combination of emotional and thrilling. I loved loved loved that it was based in the future. Honestly a great read all around. If you haven't read this novel yet, I definitely suggest you do.
Date published: 2018-01-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential Read Another classic Atwood novel - intriguing and involving!
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Thumbs down I really wasn't a fan of this book. I usually find Margaret Atwood's books are hit-or-miss for me and this was just one of those books. The story itself was interesting enough and kept my attention the entire time, I just wasn't a fan of the content.
Date published: 2018-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Incredible book! It may be fiction but you can’t help but relate some aspects to real historical events. Margaret Atwood writes an empowering story of women’s argued rights and freedoms, granted through their subsequent oppression. Could not put it down and kept me intrigued as to what happened after the conclusion.
Date published: 2018-01-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Nope Not in my wheel h;use ! Very disturbing
Date published: 2018-01-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood I flew through this book as it is such an interesting read and transports you to a world so very different, but acutely similar to ours and then it just... stops. The first 10 chapters are breathtaking and you just want to know what is going to happen next? A riot, a women's rebellion, but no, none of that happens and the ending is very lacking. It is a classic and worth the read, but not something that I would die for.
Date published: 2018-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Undeniably Amazing This book is one of the most incredible works of fiction I've ever read. Everyone should read this. While I am not a huge fan of the TV edition of the book, I've never liked them, the story and the writing is absolutely amazing. Atwood is one of the most talented writers of time. After reading the book, and then watching the show based on it, I have a whole new appreciation for the delicate way she handles such an insanely difficult and challenging themes. And the world she creates is one that is innately real and inherently terrifying. And, it could very well happen which adds a level of reality to this book most people would have a hard time handling. But, it is amazing. I highly recommend this book, and most other books, by Margret Atwood. Read it.
Date published: 2017-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Not my usual style of reading but I loved it very much! Definitely suggest the tv series once you finish the book!
Date published: 2017-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I loved this book. it was great
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Handmaid's Tale I recently watched the first season of The Handmaid's Tale - the television adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel. The programme is extremely well done and sent me straight back to the book. This is one of the scariest books I have ever read. The Rebublic of Gilead (formerly The USA) is a totalitarian and theocratic state. Pollution, radiation and sexually transmitted diseases have caused sterility and only a very few women have the ability to conceive and deliver a healthy child. The Handsmaids (named for the servants of Rachel and Leah in the Bible who bore children for their mistresses) have borne healthy children in the past and are assigned to elite families for the sole purpose of giving them a child. The book depicts a world in which no one is free, where everyone is constantly under watch, and women have no control over their bodies. The main reason it is so frightening is because although it seems so far fetched, it is based on an ideology that is heard every day from the lips of politicians, the media, religious leaders and others: the need to return to 'traditional family values'. This book shows how this can go terribly wrong when taken too far. But how far is 'too far'? We walk a very fine line when we start to give our freedoms - even little ones - away. It is entirely possible to lose much more than we bargained for. This disturbing book raises many issues about personal freedom, government and conflicting ideologies - an excellent and thought provoking read.
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lots of Imagery There were a lot of words that described the landscape which Atwood probably used metaphorically. This isn't a short read because most of the writing describes the environment and so its worth it to imagine what the book is trying to show you. Regardless, it's a great book on a dystopian society which doesn't shove any messages down your throat.
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read An interesting read. A bit confusing at first to follow the plot but once I got into it I really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read! I enjoyed the narrative and the plot line. It is scary how this dystopian could actually happen in the States.
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read the book first! I read the book prior to watching the series and I will say the book is better. What a strange concept - at first I thought it was set a couple hundred years ago but only learned it was in the near future. I love how it was written and seemed like a story that is entirely possible.
Date published: 2017-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lived up to the hype This was a great read. I couldn't put it down and enjoyed the story and the character.
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting I liked how the story line was different and eye-opening however it took me longer than my "100 pg" minimum read before I quit reading a book. I thought she could have been more concise with her writing style to get the book rolling faster.
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good i really like the different kinds of characters that they had
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth revisiting this classic! In high school this was 'forced reading', and admittedly not a book that thrilled me all that much then. BUT after watching the TV adaptation, I felt the need to revisit this classic. I have to say, I am glad I have. It's pretty brilliant, and has given me a whole new appreciate for Margaret Atwood. She truly is a Canadian gem.
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from different and intriguing style of writing i really liked the unique story and character
Date published: 2017-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good but different This book was quite different from the show. In some ways the show better explains certain plot points where the book was vague. It's still just as thrilling, and a must read for sure!
Date published: 2017-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved it! Atwood is one of my favourites! This book was a page turner - well-written.
Date published: 2017-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Atwood definitely has a style when writing books and it can either appeal to others or turn them off. I loved the writing style of this book and it kept me wanting to keep reading!
Date published: 2017-12-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good until the end. I have enjoyed Atwood's books in the past and this one was good too, though not her best. I wasn't the biggest fan of how she ended it. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from gripping such a scary read with moments of love to level out the sadness it carries.
Date published: 2017-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scary! I really liked this when I read it. Knowing more about Christian fundamentalism now, though, I've noticed that Atwood doesn't really get the culture right. Still, as a dystopian story, it's rather harrowing. In particular, the odd relationship Offred has with her body after having it covered up for so long was a real eye opener for me when I first read it.
Date published: 2017-12-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A struggle to get through This book was painful to read, it was hard to keep reading and finish, but because I am not a quitter I continued on. I love the show but this- this was too dull
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Underwhelming With all the hype surrounding The Handmaid's Tale, I decided to check it out. I really wanted to like it because of the storyline but ultimately found it disappointing. The dialogue is so dull and I had a hard time even finishing the book.
Date published: 2017-12-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Relevant, but not the first of its kind Interesting book depicting a dystopian society, which is an intriguing concept but not entirely original (eg. 1984, The Giver, etc.). Nevertheless, the book compels the reader to question the trajectory of society, how decisions of today can impact realities of tomorrow, how vulnerable we are in forgetting past mistakes.
Date published: 2017-12-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner Definitely a good read! I'm excited to watch the show. I'm not sure what the difference is between the printed versions of this book, but from what I can tell, there isn't anything lacking with this version.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great feminist novel I loved this book. While there is no huge plot line to the story, the book remains a page turner.
Date published: 2017-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read!! Loved the book and of course the series is riveting!
Date published: 2017-12-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Thought-Provoking and Tense I read this book for the first time in high school (+10 years ago). Atwood demonstrates some interesting ideas on womanhood and women's place in society. It is a terrifying glimpse of what can happen when bad ideas are followed through the extreme.
Date published: 2017-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book, could not put it down. Amazingly written took me no time to read, would highly recommend as a good book club read!
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read Enjoyed the book, apart from having to adjust to the lack of quotation marks. Great read!
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brilliant! Loved the book! Read it in Grade 11 and just re read it and it's still great! Love the mini series as well. <3
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Relevant, thought provoking, terrifying, fantastic... I purposely had not watched the television series before reading this so I had no idea what the book was about... Wow. It honestly had me thinking...this is how our world could end up...maybe...if things keep going the way they are. Pretty frightening to imagine living in the world Atwood has depicted. Very thought provoking. Definitely would recommend to anyone!
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic This is a book that I have read many times over the years. Definitely one of Margaret Atwood's best. And if you are loving the TV series, the book dives much deeper! A must read.
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed every page! I did not want to put this book down, each page was more riveting than the last. There are so many relevant themes and messages from the story that resonated with me. A must read.
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very thought provoking I loved the novel, it is a classic that is relevant in todays soceity. This is a great indtroduction to Margaret Atwoods work and will be reading more of her novels in the future!
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good Read Much better than "The Blind Assassin" (from what I remember). Can't compare it to her other novels. Very well written; definitely scoops you up and brings you in.
Date published: 2017-11-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I never want to live in that world Thanks Margaret Atwood, you have disturbed me once again.
Date published: 2017-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from TV TYE-IN THAT WORKS They book works well once you watch the show, you are hungry for more once you've completed the novel - and there are some changes but nothing too drastic, the show does a great job of giving you tidbits of more about the other characters as the book is told only from Offred's perspective. I recommend reading and then watching and becoming totally addicted to the pair.
Date published: 2017-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great good, on par with 1984 Not the easiest reading by any means, this book is still an excellent exercise in dystopian writing. I read it in 2010, and I think that now, in 2017, with the American elections, it is even more disturbing and relevant.
Date published: 2017-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating read I've fallen in love with this story and Margaret's writing. Fresh new take on the concept of dystopian worlds. Will read more from Margaret Atwood.
Date published: 2017-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking Really in depth read. Very good choice if you are in a book club, there is a lot to talk about!
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Read this book I admit I originally wanted to read this book because of a picket sign I saw in a picture of the womens' march, it said 'the Handmaid's tale is not a guidebook'. I bought the book knowing very little about it. Margaret Atwood is a very talented author and I am upset that it has taken me this long to discover her books. This may have been the first book that I have read by her but it most certainly will not be the last.
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting An interesting view on an alternate universe. Makes you think.
Date published: 2017-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More Relevant Than Ever Beautifully written, and incredibly important in understanding the politics surrounding reproductive rights and gender politics today.
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth a read Slow start, but a classic that is definitely worth sticking with it until the end.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Read the book and watched the show I really enjoyed the show and I read the book after and liked it just as much.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. It took great patience, many cups of coffee and intense concentration just to pass the 100 page mark. The book is horribly written with a complete lack of plot and character development.
Date published: 2017-11-13

From the Author

#1 New York Times bestsellerIn this multi-award-winning, bestselling novel, Margaret Atwood has created a stunning Orwellian vision of the near future. This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate “Handmaids” under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the “time before” and her will to survive are acts of rebellion. Provocative, startling, prophetic, and with Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit, and acute perceptive powers in full force, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once a mordant satire and a dire warning.

Read from the Book

1We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in miniskirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light.There was old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation, of something without a shape or name. I remember that yearning, for something that was always about to happen and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then, in the small of the back, or out back, in the parking lot, or in the television room with the sound turned down and only the pictures flickering over lifting flesh.We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability? It was in the air; and it was still in the air, an afterthought, as we tried to sleep, in the army cots that had been set up in rows, with spaces between so we could not talk. We had flannelette sheets, like children's, and army-issue blankets, old ones that still said U.S. We folded our clothes neatly and laid them on the stools at the ends of the beds. The lights were turned down but not out. Aunt Sara and Aunt Elizabeth patrolled; they had electric cattle prods slung on thongs from their leather belts.No guns though, even they could not be trusted with guns. Guns were for the guards, specially picked from the Angels. The guards weren't allowed inside the building except when called, and we weren't allowed out, except for our walks, twice daily, two by two around the football field, which was enclosed now by a chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. The Angels stood outside it with their backs to us. They were objects of fear to us, but of something else as well. If only they would look. If only we could talk to them. Something could be exchanged, we thought, some deal made, some tradeoff, we still had our bodies. That was our fantasy.We learned to whisper almost without sound. In the semidarkness we could stretch out our arms, when the Aunts weren't looking, and touch each other's hands across space. We learned to lip-read, our heads flat on the beds, turned sideways, watching each other's mouths. In this way we exchanged names, from bed to bed:Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June.IIShopping2A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath, and in the center of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier, once. They've removed anything you could tie a rope to.A window, two white curtains. Under the window, a window seat with a little cushion. When the window is partly open--it only opens partly--the air can come in and make the curtains move. I can sit in the chair, or on the window seat, hands folded, and watch this. Sunlight comes in through the window too, and falls on the floor, which is made of wood, in narrow strips, highly polished. I can smell the polish. There's a rug on the floor, oval, of braided rags. This is the kind of touch they like: folk art, archaic, made by women, in their spare time, from things that have no further use. A return to traditional values. Waste not want not. I am not being wasted. Why do I want?On the wall above the chair, a picture, framed but with no glass: a print of flowers, blue irises, watercolor. Flowers are still allowed. Does each of us have the same print, the same chair, the same white curtains, I wonder? Government issue?Think of it as being in the army, said Aunt Lydia.A bed. Single, mattress medium-hard, covered with a flocked white spread. Nothing takes place in the bed but sleep; or no sleep. I try not to think too much. Like other things now, thought must be rationed. There's a lot that doesn't bear thinking about. Thinking can hurt your chances, and I intend to last. I know why there is no glass, in front of the watercolor picture of blue irises, and why the window opens only partly and why the glass in it is shatterproof. It isn't running away they're afraid of. We wouldn't get far. It's those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge.So. Apart from these details, this could be a college guest room, for the less distinguished visitors; or a room in a rooming house, of former times, for ladies in reduced circumstances. That is what we are now. The circumstances have been reduced; for those of us who still have circumstances.But a chair, sunlight, flowers: these are not to be dismissed. I am alive, I live, I breathe, I put my hand out, unfolded, into the sunlight. Where I am is not a prison but a privilege, as Aunt Lydia said, who was in love with either/or.The bell that measures time is ringing. Time here is measured by bells, as once in nunneries. As in a nunnery too, there are few mirrors.I get up out of the chair, advance my feet into the sunlight, in their red shoes, flat-heeled to save the spine and not for dancing. The red gloves are lying on the bed. I pick them up, pull them onto my hands, finger by finger. Everything except the wings around my face is red: the color of blood, which defines us. The skirt is ankle-length, full, gathered to a flat yoke that extends over the breasts, the sleeves are full. The white wings too are prescribed issue; they are to keep us from seeing, but also from being seen. I never looked good in red, it's not my color. I pick up the shopping basket, put it over my arm.The door of the room--not my room, I refuse to say my--is not locked. In fact it doesn't shut properly. I go out into the polished hallway, which has a runner down the center, dusty pink. Like a path through the forest, like a carpet for royalty, it shows me the way.The carpet bends and goes down the front staircase and I go with it, one hand on the banister, once a tree, turned in another century, rubbed to a warm gloss. Late Victorian, the house is, a family house, built for a large rich family. There's a grandfather clock in the hallway, which doles out time, and then the door to the motherly front sitting room, with its flesh tones and hints. A sitting room in which I never sit, but stand or kneel only. At the end of the hallway, above the front door, is a fanlight of colored glass: flowers, red and blue.There remains a mirror, on the hall wall. If I turn my head so that the white wings framing my face direct my vision towards it, I can see it as I go down the stairs, round, convex, a pier glass, like the eye of a fish, and myself in it like a distorted shadow, a parody of something, some fairy-tale figure in a red cloak, descending towards a moment of carelessness that is the same as danger. A Sister, dipped in blood.At the bottom of the stairs there's a hat-and-umbrella stand, the bentwood kind, long rounded rungs of wood curving gently up into hooks shaped like the opening fronds of a fern. There are several umbrellas in it: black, for the Commander, blue, for the Commander's Wife, and the one assigned to me, which is red. I leave the red umbrella where it is, because I know from the window that the day is sunny. I wonder whether or not the Commander's Wife is in the sitting room. She doesn't always sit. Sometimes I can hear her pacing back and forth, a heavy step and then a light one, and the soft tap of her cane on the dusty-rose carpet.I walk along the hallway, past the sitting room door and the door that leads into the dining room, and open the door at the end of the hall and go through into the kitchen. Here the smell is no longer of furniture polish. Rita is in here, standing at the kitchen table, which has a top of chipped white enamel. She's in her usual Martha's dress, which is dull green, like a surgeon's gown of the time before. The dress is much like mine in shape, long and concealing, but with a bib apron over it and without the white wings and the veil. She puts on the veil to go outside, but nobody much cares who sees the face of a Martha. Her sleeves are rolled to the elbow, showing her brown arms. She's making bread, throwing the loaves for the final brief kneading and then the shaping.Rita sees me and nods, whether in greeting or in simple acknowledgment of my presence it's hard to say, and wipes her floury hands on her apron and rummages in the kitchen drawer for the token book. Frowning, she tears out three tokens and hands them to me. Her face might be kindly if she would smile. But the frown isn't personal: it's the red dress she disapproves of, and what it stands for. She thinks I may be catching, like a disease or any form of bad luck.Sometimes I listen outside closed doors, a thing I never would have done in the time before. I don't listen long, because I don't want to be caught doing it. Once, though, I heard Rita say to Cora that she wouldn't debase herself like that.Nobody asking you, Cora said. Anyways, what could you do, supposing?Go to the Colonies, Rita said. They have the choice.With the Unwomen, and starve to death and Lord knows what all? said Cora. Catch you.They were shelling peas; even through the almost-closed door I could hear the light clink of the hard peas falling into the metal bowl. I heard Rita, a grunt or a sigh, of protest or agreement.Anyways, they're doing it for us all, said Cora, or so they say. If I hadn't of got my tubes tied, it could of been me, say I was ten years younger. It's not that bad. It's not what you'd call hard work.Better her than me, Rita said, and I opened the door. Their faces were the way women's faces are when they've been talking about you behind your back and they think you've heard: embarrassed, but also a little defiant, as if it were their right. That day, Cora was more pleasant to me than usual, Rita more surly.Today, despite Rita's closed face and pressed lips, I would like to stay here, in the kitchen. Cora might come in, from somewhere else in the house, carrying her bottle of lemon oil and her duster, and Rita would make coffee--in the houses of the Commanders there is still real coffee--and we would sit at Rita's kitchen table, which is not Rita's any more than my table is mine, and we would talk, about aches and pains, illnesses, our feet, our backs, all the different kinds of mischief that our bodies, like unruly children, can get into. We would nod our heads as punctuation to each other's voices, signaling that yes, we know all about it. We would exchange remedies and try to outdo each other in the recital of our physical miseries; gently we would complain, our voices soft and minor key and mournful as pigeons in the eaves troughs. I know what you mean, we'd say. Or, a quaint expression you sometimes hear, still, from older people: I hear where you're coming from, as if the voice itself were a traveler, arriving from a distant place. Which it would be, which it is.How I used to despise such talk. Now I long for it. At least it was talk. An exchange, of sorts.Or we would gossip. The Marthas know things, they talk among themselves, passing the unofficial news from house to house. Like me, they listen at doors, no doubt, and see things even with their eyes averted. I've heard them at it sometimes, caught whiffs of their private conversations. Stillborn, it was. Or, Stabbed her with a knitting needle, right in the belly. Jealousy, it must have been, eating her up. Or, tantalizingly, It was toilet cleaner she used. Worked like a charm, though you'd think he'd of tasted it. Must've been that drunk; but they found her out all right.Or I would help Rita make the bread, sinking my hands into that soft resistant warmth which is so much like flesh. I hunger to touch something, other than cloth or wood. I hunger to commit the act of touch.But even if I were to ask, even if I were to violate decorum to that extent, Rita would not allow it. She would be too afraid. The Marthas are not supposed to fraternize with us.Fraternize means to behave like a brother. Luke told me that. He said there was no corresponding word that meant to behave like a sister. Sororize, it would have to be, he said. From the Latin. He liked knowing about such details. The derivations of words, curious usages. I used to tease him about being pedantic.I take the tokens from Rita's outstretched hand. They have pictures on them, of the things they can be exchanged for: twelve eggs, a piece of cheese, a brown thing that's supposed to be a steak. I place them in the zippered pocket in my sleeve, where I keep my pass."Tell them fresh, for the eggs," she says. "Not like last time. And a chicken, tell them, not a hen. Tell them who it's for and then they won't mess around.""All right," I say. I don't smile. Why tempt her to friendship?3I go out by the back door, into the garden, which is large and tidy: a lawn in the middle, a willow, weeping catkins; around the edges, the flower borders, in which the daffodils are now fading and the tulips are opening their cups, spilling out color. The tulips are red, a darker crimson towards the stem, as if they have been cut and are beginning to heal there.This garden is the domain of the Commander's Wife. Looking out through my shatterproof window I've often seen her in it, her knees on a cushion, a light blue veil thrown over her wide gardening hat, a basket at her side with shears in it and pieces of string for tying the flowers into place. A Guardian detailed to the Commander does the heavy digging; the Commander's Wife directs, pointing with her stick. Many of the Wives have such gardens, it's something for them to order and maintain and care for.I once had a garden. I can remember the smell of the turned earth, the plump shapes of bulbs held in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers. Time could pass more swiftly that way. Sometimes the Commander's Wife has a chair brought out, and just sits in it, in her garden. From a distance it looks like peace.She isn't here now, and I start to wonder where she is: I don't like to come upon the Commander's Wife unexpectedly. Perhaps she's sewing, in the sitting room, with her left foot on the footstool, because of her arthritis. Or knitting scarves, for the Angels at the front lines. I can hardly believe the Angels have a need for such scarves; anyway, the ones made by the Commander's Wife are too elaborate. She doesn't bother with the cross-and-star pattern used by many of the other Wives, it's not a challenge. Fir trees march across the ends of her scarves, or eagles, or stiff humanoid figures, boy and girl, boy and girl. They aren't scarves for grown men but for children.

Editorial Reviews

“A taut thriller, a psychological study, a play on words.…A rich and complex book.”–New York Times“Atwood has peered behind the curtain into some of the darkest, most secret, yet oddly erotic corners of the mind, and the result is a fascinating, wonderfully written, and disturbing cautionary tale.”–Toronto Sun“A novel that will both chill and caution readers and which may challenge everyday assumptions.…It is an imaginative accomplishment of a high order. . . . ”–London Free Press“Moving, vivid and terrifying. I only hope it is not prophetic.”–Conor Cruise O’Brien“A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections of politics and sex.…Satisfying, disturbing and compelling.” –Washington Post“The most poetically satisfying and intense of all Atwood’s novels.”–Maclean’s“It deserves an honored place on the small shelf of cautionary tales that have entered modern folklore – a place next to, and by no means inferior to, Brave New World and 1984.”–Publishers Weekly“Deserves the highest praise.” –San Francisco Chronicle“In The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood has written the most chilling cautionary novel of the century.”–Phoenix Gazette “Imaginative, even audacious, and conveys a chilling sense of fear and menace.”–Globe and Mail“Margaret Atwood’s novels tickle our deepest sexual and psychological fears. The Handmaid’s Tale is a sly and beautifully crafted story about the fate of an ordinary woman caught off guard by extraordinary events. . . . A compelling fable of our time.”–Glamour“This visionary novel, in which God and Government are joined, and America is run as a Puritanical Theocracy, can be read as a companion volume to Orwell’s 1984 –its verso, in fact. It gives you the same degree of chill, even as it suggests the varieties of tyrannical experience; it evokes the same kind of horror even as its mordant wit makes you smile.”–E. L. Doctorow