I’ve been wanting to read The Handmaid’s Tale for years, but as it is now an excellent show on Hulu and my best friend loaned me her copy, I figured these were the perfect signs that I should pick this for my book club for March.
I love dystopian future novels and this fits the mold. What I really liked about it is that it didn’t seem that wildly out there. Pollution has made fertility rates go down? Check, that is already happening. Environmental disasters have made certain parts of the US unlivable? That has happened to. The government is overthrown by a conservative religious group that forces woman into subservient roles based on their uses to society? It hasn’t happened yet, but it eerily feels like it could. The book seemed like it could happen any day, unfortunately even more now so in our current political climate.
This book provided a lot of discussion at book club and even better, most members actually read it this month! What I thought made the novel was the historical note at the end that discusses that the entire book were tapes that were found a couple hundred years in the future and give slight details to think about what could have happened after Offred is lead away at the end of the book. I’m usually not a fan of ambiguous ending, but the historical note really made the novel for me.
We also talked about how easy it would be to take away women’s access to their finances and jobs these days, even more so than when the novel was written in the 1980’s. We also talked about how women were banned from reading and the Bible was locked up. It’s easy to take things out of context and force it on people when they are not allowed to read and think for themselves.
I thought it was very interesting that the wife in the situation, Serena Joy, was a very vocal advocate of conservative values that were adopted by the new regime. Offred wonders how Serena now feels living by these traditional values and not allowed to go out and live life in the world like she used to. It’s an interesting thought – telling others to do something and then having to live it yourself are two very different things.
My husband and I started the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale and are about half way through it. We have limited time watching TV with no kids around so we are very slow at making our way through adult programming. From what we’ve seen the show follows the book very well and is very well done. Any show watchers out there? What are your thoughts?
I also liked the new forward by the author. It gave great insight into the novel and also how it is still very relevant in today’s society.
“The street is almost like a museum, or a street in a model town constructed to show the way people used to live. As in those pictures, those museums, those model towns, there are now children.”
“If it’s a story I’m telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off. It isn’t a story I’m telling.”
“They show us only victories, never defeats. Who wants bad news?”
“But who can remember pain, once it’s over?”
Overall, The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that I will be thinking about for years to come. It is a haunting look at a possible future that I hope we never see. It’s also a great book to use for discussion at a book club.
Book Source: Borrowed from my best friend Jenn