Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

The Handmaid’s Tale

Publisher: Vintage Classics


Blurb (as on Goodreads):

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant because, in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now… 

My Take:

“If this is a figment of her imagination, I wonder how deep it runs……….”

This book is about the kind world we are scared of. The world where you are given a job in order to survive and any deviation can lead to death or worse.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

Offred is a part of a particular society which is ruled by The Eye. She was once a daughter, a wife and a mother. But now her existence has been reduced to being a Handmaid. Her only function is to bear children for the ones who cannot. She isn’t allowed to read or write. she can’t go out at her will and can’t raise her own baby. She is under surveillance at all times. She is fed properly and is taken care of. But she can’t talk unless necessary. One wrong step and she will be sent to the colonies to die a slow death. And hell! she doesn’t even have a name anymore.

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

A hauntingly beautiful book, Atwood has laid open every thought, every emotion that Offred goes through. Offred narrates her story and every bit it of wants us to know that she exists not just as a part of some perfect society but as a person. She wants to breathe and the book perfectly shows how difficult it is to simply breathe sometimes.

“If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending…
But if it’s a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone.
You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else. Even when there is no one.”

I read this book in installments and it has managed to occupy every inch of mind throughout. The style of writing is so eloquent yet so mysterious. The entire story unfolds in segments and the characters become so close to our heart. These are our everyday characters with a twist, each one with a distinct past and present. The reader ends up empathizing with each one. It’s heartbreaking to the point of desolation.

“Every night when I go to bed I think, In the morning I will wake up in my own house and things will be back the way they were.
It hasn’t happened this morning, either.”

I have loved every bit of the book. It’s a journey. A journey of emotions that include joy, grief, pain, betrayal, and hope. Hope- because sometimes that’s all we are left with. To dream that someday all this will be a bad dream and then there’ll be a new, better life. This extraordinary creation has drained me emotionally and has indeed made me believe in the fact that truth can be scary. The truth about the society in the book is so raw and brutal. And it has been presented the same way – blatant and direct.

This extraordinary creation has drained me emotionally and has indeed made me believe in the fact that truth can be scary. The truth about this society is so raw and brutal. And it has been presented the same way – blatant and direct. It’s neither mockery nor a satire. It’s a statement, that you will carry with yourself for a very long time.


Goodreads: 4.06/5.0

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A book like this doesn’t deserve to be rated. It (the book) just takes your breath away and sometimes on a cold winter night, when you lie down and stare at the stars, this is what you think about.

Buy your copy here 🙂

Until next time


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