The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Published January 31, 2023

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Book info

  • Title The Handmaid's Tale
  • Author Margaret Atwood
  • Year 1985
  • Genre Dystopia

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford - her assigned name, Offred, means 'of Fred'. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.


I battle my way through the TV adaptation of this - certainly not enjoying it but somehow invested in the story and curious about what comes next. The book is such a modern classic but it’s taken me a long time to get round to reading it, I wish I had read it earlier. It’s only the early events of the TV show but the way it’s written is perfection. Short, sharp, to the point, but also somehow woolly, dreamlike, because you need to dream to survive that life, and your memory will start to wobble.

It’s a terrifying story in its believability, how gradually things like this can happen, rights can be stripped away, moments turn into seismic changes and people end up in situations they just go along with because it seems easier, regardless of right or wrong or fighting for freedoms. Terrifying, brutal, important.

Rating: 5 / 5

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