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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood



I saw the movie associated with this book many years ago, and was surprised to find out the book was so much more full of substance that can't be captured on the screen.
I don't always like Margaret Atwood's books, because they feel full of herself as if she was writing them with pompous attitude, but not this book.
This story is woven through three different time lines that all connect in a downward spiral. The main character speaks of the time before the madness, when she is conscripted and (attempted) brainwashed to become a handmaid, and the present time as a handmaid.
A handmaid is a surrogate (the woman doesn't have a choice in the matter) mother for a couple who can't have children. The men are high ranking officials, and for some reason there is a birth decline affecting many people in this new country of horrors.
Women are not allowed to read or write, and given the time the book was written, women had just achieved so much in equal rights. So many men (or at least many more men) during that time, didn't want women to work or leave the house and kitchen.
To say that the government of Gilead was based on Christian values would be to say the Westminster Baptist Church is based on Christian values, when it is actually based on hatred.
Even Offred doesn't believe this type of lifestyle is what God meant, but of course it comes down to people often perceiving others as trying to control their lives, as some perceive present day Christianity want to accomplish.
The one thing I really hate about this book is the ending, or lack thereof. Even the movie came up with a good ending, but the book just ended right in the middle of a story, and so everything is now left to our imagination.
Though there are some historical notes from a conference conducted in the future (yes they still have dreaded boring conferences), where the speaker tells how they know about Offred by the recordings she makes and hides.
Even though this last part is interesting, no one in this future which is in 2195 knows more than we know, so we still can't learn an ending here.
I believe this book is brilliant and genius.