Since Margaret Atwood’s book got popular again, thanks to the Hulu show, I’ve figured I ought to read the book, and now I finally got a chance to.
Set in a dystopian future, Gilead (formerly the U.S.) is running short on babies, which makes women who are able to bear children a commodity. The rich and powerful are able to afford a handmaid, a young woman to bear a child when the wife cannot.
Offred is one such handmaid, who is able to, at some point, document her story– daily life as a handmaid, snippets of the indoctrination, and memories from life before. And while Offred, like most, wants to live, she also craves more, haunted by the memory of her lost love.
Atwood creates a compelling dystopian society filled with characters with depth. Not a single character is cut and dry, and Atwood’s story shows how circumstances can change people more than they ever thought possible.
I can see why the creators of the show decided to continue on, despite the first season covering the entirety of the book. And while the ambiguous ending can be exasperating, I think Atwood uses it as a challenge, not only to think about society and where it might be heading, but also of how narratives are shaped, and how they are shared.
I enjoy the style of the two books I’ve read by Atwood, very much reading as though you are there, in the mind of the character, seeing through her eyes, understanding and processing as she does. It makes for a quick and engaging read.
So if you’re like me, and don’t always like jumping on the bandwagon, still give The Handmaid’s Tale a chance. It’s a different kind of story, to say the least.