14 July, 2010

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Very early on in the year, when I first started this blog, I started listing books from other blogs that were interesting to me. This was an early discovery from Abrosia Salad Book Reviews. You can read her review here.

I know that I have tried to read a Margaret Atwood before and struggled - maybe Alias Grace?? I also think I may have read this before, but a long, long time ago, before I was able to really appreciate the story.

The Handmaid's Tale is the story of Offred. A woman whose sole purpose is to provide the Commander she is assigned to and his wife with a baby. The consequences for not doing so are to be declared an unwoman and shipped off to the Colonies. In this rather terrifying future, woman are strictly controlled - all for their own good, really.

For me, one of the scariest things about Hanmaid's Tale is the apparent ease with which the world changed. Offred is still able to remember the time before - living with a room mate, make up, parties, being able to do what she wanted. She also remembers her husband and child - she has no idea where they are now.  The changes she describes seemed to happen over time and on the surface, seemed quite good. The outlawing of porn, not being able to touch a woman until a certain age, harsh punishment for rape. However, a declining birth rate drove the militaristic-religious government to take more and more control over women and their bodies until you are left with a society where woman are divided into groups and are defined and controlled by their purpose. Not only are we back in the dark ages, we are beyond it.

Trish over at Hey Lady, Whatcha Readin' is hosting a read along of The Handmaid's Tale in August/ September. I'm looking forward to taking part in the discussion.