Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Handmaid’s Tale is a work of fiction. One needs to remember that. But it’s difficult. I started reading and the dystopian society portrayed, well, it doesn’t seem all that fictional or improbable to me. Which is actually pretty scary because in that society women are merely vessels for having progeny. No rights or freedom. Just a body, to be impregnated by a Commander, bear the child with zero medical help, hand over the child to the family and go to the next, to repeat it all over again for some one else. Scary.

The women don’t even have their own names anymore. They cannot own property, they cannot hold bank accounts, they don’t have free will – they are merely properties held by the men. Sounds vaguely familiar? It’s not the far and distant future, mind’s just around the corner, this new system, this Gilead. It could be happen in India. Sure, it can. Maybe it’s already started.

It’s a powerful book. A lot of the situations (for want of a better word) written actually turn up in our newspapers as news. Like the Handmaids being made to recite that being raped is what they deserved, it’s the victims’s fault and they shouldn’t have ‘provoked’ the men – how many times have we heard this same drivel from the mouths of these so-called leaders, cops or Govt officials every time a heinous rape happens? Atwood has so uncannily portrayed reality as fiction. And that’s what scares me the most.

This is my first proper Atwood book (I’ve read a little bit of The Blind Assasin a while ago) and I love her style! I love her prose and I like just how powerful her simple words are. How impact-ful. She can say so much by saying so less. And sometimes, by not saying anything at all. I only remember reading with such an urgency, as if the story will fly off the pages if I didn’t read it soon…as if something would happen and I would miss it! I haven’t had a book do that to me in a while now. So, yeah, I really liked this book.

Maybe it’s not a dystopian book at all. Maybe an eye-opener to where we could be headed. It’s just around the corner, Gilead. Be scared.

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