Book Buzz: The Handmaid’s Tale

If you’re like me, you have an ever-expanding list of books TBR (to be read). I do read a lot, but there are many classics heretofore unread, and Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was one I regrettably had not gotten to.

Book Buzz: the Handmaid's Tale

The buzz is already out about the Hulu version coming out next week, starring Elisabeth Moss in the leading role. The reviews are glowing. Critics are wowed by the script, the performances and the stunning visual effects. I can’t wait to watch, but I really wanted to read the book first.

Only one problem. I’ve got at least half a dozen review books in my queue. Also, it’s a busy time right now, with holidays and birthdays and family obligations. My reading time is limited.

But thanks to Audible, and these lovely April days, my problem was solved. I’ve listened to the audiobook version during my daily walks and I’m all caught up. Narrated by Claire Danes, it is a riveting novel, especially relevant now.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?

It is quite a stunning piece of work, as most readers of Margaret Atwood’s feminist novel will agree.

It is the year 2195. The Handmaid’s Tale recounts “the new normal” in the Republic of Gilead, the totalitarian state that exists in what was formerly the USA. A fundamentalist Christian faction has assumed power and stripped women of their rights. In response to a precipitous drop in birth rates, the new government imprisons women who are determined to still be fertile and forces them to work as handmaids, AKA breeding surrogates. Their freedom and their access to the outside is taken away. Their names are changed; their identities are erased.

Offred, the protagonist, once had a husband, a child, and a normal life. When the drumbeats got louder, she and her family tried to cross the border into safety, but she was captured. She clings to hope that she will be reunited with them someday, but her memories of life “before” are slipping away.

With themes of gender oppression, authoritarian leadership and religious politics, some might draw parallels to our current political reality. Read this excerpt and tell me it isn’t chilling:

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen,” Offred said. “When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

Will these themes hit too close for comfort? For me, yes. Part of the shock is learning about Offred’s life before the regime came into power. It was so normal, so mundane, just like our lives. And then it’s not. That’s all I will say about that.

Audible always delivers, and as an added benefit, there are extra goodies in this recording. I enjoyed hearing the exclusive content written by Margaret Atwood at the end because it deepened my understanding of the book. The novel extends beyond the original final line, “Are there any questions?,” by adding the questions and answers that the people at that Symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask.

Do you use Audible? You can try it out for a month by going to Audible’s free trial site and have access to hundreds of titles.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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37 Thoughts on “Book Buzz: The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. Yes, this classic is even more relevant (sadly) today. I am glad it’s getting a resurgence in interest but sad it has to.

  2. I remember reading this fascinating book in my old book club. But honestly, after all this time, I should read it again! Your review will certainly put it in my mind’s eye to do that! And, yes, I can’t wait to see the movie.

    Loved that Margaret Atwood said, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” Indeed! (You were much more tactful than I just was….xo)

    Thanks, Helene!

    • hbludman on April 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm said:

      I can’t wait to watch the series, Cathy. It will be very thought-provoking, without a doubt.

  3. Oh, I so want to read this, I haven’t yet, but I know the story. I don’t have HULU. I’ve wanted to try Audible but I don’t know if I would use it. When do you listen, Helene? Anyway, yes, I’m going to read it, but there’s a waiting list at the library! Which, I think, is a good thing!

    • hbludman on April 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm said:

      Cathy, you should try Audible! I listen to it in the car, doing laundry, taking walks, sitting outside — you would love it!

  4. I love audible it is a great tool that I use often. Great review this seems like a great book.

  5. I don’t know if I could bear to read this book again now when it shockingly feels like it could actually happen. Listening to books is a great option when it’s hard to find time to sit down and read.

  6. Audible is and has been my lifeline! I haven’t been able to read at night for years -my brain just doesn’t work that way any more – and listening to Audible at night saved my sanity. I have since brought Audible into my workouts and walks and my car rides :)!

    Ah…I had forgotten about this classic book — may need to put it on my “must listen” list. So many classics apply in such uncomfortable ways. Just finished re-reading Exodus…. May be a more uncomfortable read today than it was when I first read it.

  7. What an inspiring story! Very inspirational to me 😀

  8. No, I haven’t read it yet. But I bought the book awhile ago to do just that. My reading list is like my eyes, when I first sit down at the table. lol

  9. I have a huge list and this book is actually on it!
    So, that answers your second question, no I haven’t read it. I have heard many good things about it though.
    I just can’t get into audio books, I get too distracted to pay attention. I might try it again though. I need to have some good reading time.

    • hbludman on April 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm said:

      Krysten, I agree with you. I have to stay very focused to not miss anything.

  10. I have never read this book, but I will now! Thanks for the head’s up!

  11. I am a big fan of Margaret Atwood and this is one of her best works. I have never heard of audible but will definitely check it out.

  12. I haven’t read this. Looks like I’ll have to go grab a copy.

  13. Angela Milnes on April 21, 2017 at 5:25 am said:

    Glad you share a good review and my bet this is a perfect book I will tell this to my sister

  14. Agentizerozerosetter on April 21, 2017 at 7:47 am said:

    Never read it, seems an interesting book! I’ll add it to my list!

  15. I haven’t tried audible before but I’d love to. I’ll check this book out. I’m such a bookworm, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t read.

  16. My husband is a huge Audible fan. There’s always a book on his bedside table but he listens to one on his commute, walks and decompressing on the porch. I’ve started checking out books on CD from the library because I’ve been driving to Savannah a lot lately (3+ hours). I’ve gotten so I just listen on my errands around town as well. I might have to make the leap to Audible. Like you said Helene, I’m realizing I’ll never have time to read all that I’d like.

    • hbludman on April 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm said:

      Those long car rides can go so much faster with audiobooks. Thanks, Jamie!

  17. Misty Nelson Dawn on April 21, 2017 at 2:08 pm said:

    I haven’t heard about this but it looks an Interesting book for me, I should have a copy

  18. Ophelia Tang on April 21, 2017 at 11:38 pm said:

    Interesting introduction to the book. Will definitely check this book out when I have a chance.
    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | TREND ALERT: Off the Shoulder Tops Galore

  19. I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately! Looks like I’ll have to add it to my list as well 🙂

  20. Elizabeth O on April 23, 2017 at 10:40 am said:

    I read the original version way back in my college years and enjoyed it. Good to see a reprint.

  21. I haven’t heard of this book 📚 but it looks very interesting. Thank you for this review and for sharing that audible website I’m going to check it out!

  22. sounds like an intriguing book. Thanks for sharing always looking for great books to read
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  23. The Handmaid’s Tale sounds like a wonderful read and great review indeed! Sadly, I don’t have Hulu but can’t wait to check this book!

  24. Katrina gehman on April 25, 2017 at 2:12 pm said:

    i can’t wait to see this one. i’m hoping soon as it sounds so good.

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