Luke Friesen

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  • The Handmaid's Tale

  • Special Edition
  • Written by: Margaret Atwood, Valerie Martin - essay
  • Narrated by: Claire Danes, Ray Porter, Margaret Atwood, and others
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 662
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 600
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 603

After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • definitely worth it

  • By Stephanie on 2018-05-30

Anyone who would describe this book as feminist, or anti-religious or anti-patriotic would be mistaken.

4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-01-14

As a guy, part of my goal of listening to this was to find a greater understanding of a woman’s heart, perspective of the world, & female-specific suffering. However, Handmaid’s Tale is not specifically about any of these things. Its about how drastically a nation can be changed overnight, that America could become like communist Germany, or like a Christian version of a severe fundamentalist Islam. It’s about smaller power struggles amongst realistic characters in a nation ruled by evil dictatorship, & looking at the world from the bottom up. It obviously has female perspective, heart & specific struggles, but I don’t believe that’s the point.

The main character has real flaws, tries desperately at times to control her fate in a situation where control is so completely denied her, & endures terrible hardship. A full understanding of everything terrible that’s happened & is happening never really comes to her, nor the reader. I only feel like I finally understood it when I listened to the author’s notes at the end.

I found especially the 1st half very hard to listen to, as more popular stories star hero’s that make big changes to their world. But, I do feel a deeper understanding of the real world as a result of finishing it. If you think you can make it through a book where the character’s real name is never given, their assigned (fake) name is only mentioned 1/2 way through & the story is not forthcoming with the details of why things are the way they are, I would highly recommend it. I would also warn that the plot is slow. What kept attracting me back to it is largely the poetry laced in to the narrative. This is beautiful, however I would also warn that this often-times-poetic-narrative is also not linear, & I definitely felt lost in flashbacks and asides within flashbacks & asides.

The reader is consistently clear & subtle in her expression, but I would prefer someone who could read it less somber. I feel that there are moments of sardonic humour that could be expressed better, & it would help vary the tone.

Overall it is expertly written & I can say that it deserves to be popular.

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