Hulu announced an original series based on Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale would be in the offering this spring. On Facebook, I saw the Washington Post’s brief review of her novel.
“A novel that brilliantly illuminates some of the darker interconnections between politics and sex… Just as the world of Orwell’s 1984 gripped our imaginations, so will the world of Atwood’s handmaid!” – The Washington Post Book World
I had recently re-read Orwell’s 1984 that I had originally read in the late 1970’s. I enjoyed Orwell’s novel when I first read it, however, the second recent reading confirmed my distaste for the dystopian genre. Perhaps because the subject matter is no longer so far-fetched in 2017.
Last Friday I posted on my personal Facebook page, “Has anyone read, “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood? Your review?”
Facebook friends promptly posted their overwhelming favorable reviews. The Handmaid’s Tale was originally published in hardcover in 1986. After reading their short reviews, I am embarrassed to admit I had not read the novel before now. With my Barnes & Noble coupons in hand, I promptly purchased the novel for my weekend reading.
Having read about a third of the story, I considered not finishing the book. Ms. Atwood’s writing style to that point kept pushing me as though she wanted me to read faster and faster. I was becoming exasperated with her writing style because I didn’t know enough about the characters to have an opinion about them. I didn’t know if I liked them, felt sorry for them…. nothing.
Secondly, the plot line only confirmed what I already knew and that I am not a fan of this genre.
It wasn’t until Chapter 20 that the plot line and the writing began to slow down to where I could catch my breath for the plausibility of the story to emerge.
p. 117 excerpts:
“You are a transitional generation, said Aunt Lydia. It is the hardest for you. We know the sacrifices you are being expected to make. It is hard when men revile you. For the ones who come after you, it will be easier. They will accept their duties with willing hearts.
She did not say: Because they will have no memories, of any other way.
She said: Because they won’t want things they can’t have.”
I immediately thought of my son’s girlfriends and the millennial generation. What has already happened in the first 100 days of our country’s current administration made me wonder if my children’s generation’s children, my potential grandchildren, would accept their duties with willing hearts and not want things they cannot have.
A few pages further in Chapter 21, are even more chilling words.
p. 127 excerpts:
“What confronts us, now the excitement’s over, is our own failure. Mother, I think. Wherever you may be. Can you hear me? You wanted a women’s culture. Well, now there is one. It isn’t what you meant, but it exists. Be thankful for small mercies.”
Would my children say to themselves the same thing about me someday?
p. 136 excerpts:
“We are for breeding purposes: we aren’t concubines, geisha girls, courtesans…. We are two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices.”
It took almost halfway through the book for Ms. Atwood’s chilling prose to break through to hook me until it’s terrifying conclusion in which I asked myself, “would I be one of the old women wearing a grey dress?”
The Handmaid’s Tale had me wondering if the author could even contemplate the a Republic of Gilead happening in the United States.
After finishing her novel, I wanted to ask Ms. Atwood if she would reconsider naming the novel “2020” instead of The Handmaid’s Tale. After all, George Orwell’s “1984” is not too far off the mark in 2017; and by the time this administration’s term ends in 2020, the United States won’t may not be too far off from Gilead.
Margaret Atwood left the readers hanging at the end of book. Could she still thrill us with a sequel?
While I am still not a fan of dystopian novels, The Blogging Owl gives The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood a 4-Hoot out of 5-Hoot Rating.