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The Handmaid's Tale

Written by: Margaret Atwood
Narrated by: Claire Danes
Series: The Handmaid's Tale, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (346 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential - Margaret Atwood's modern classic is one of the most stunning and powerful works of speculative fiction ever written, and it took a lot of careful consideration to determine who would best narrate this important book. Claire Danes elevates the frightening dystopic vision by lending a sheen of reality with her performance. She doesn't act, and she doesn't need to. She recounts. She breathes out the tale as if she is living it. Resigned, beaten down, traveling through hell by putting one step ahead of the other. I was utterly convinced by her performance.

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Fiction, 2013

Margaret Atwood's popular dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender and religious politics. Multiple Golden Globe award winner Claire Danes (Romeo and Juliet, The Hours) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time.

After a staged terrorist attack kills the president and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the 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 even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression.

Cover art by Fred Marcellino. Used with permission of Pippin Properties, Inc.

©1985 Margaret Atwood (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

“Claire Danes sparkles in this performance...Danes's Offred is complex, and her flashes of intense strength highlight her vulnerability. This is a consuming listen, thanks to Danes's emotional subtleties.” (AudioFile)
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  • MCK
  • 2019-11-16

Compelling story and perfect narration!

I could not have loved this more. Powerhouse combo of Atwood’s prose and Danes’ performance.

3 people found this helpful

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A true classic

Amazing, thoughtful, deep, and very profound. This is obviously a classic. Inspiration for a generation of women. #audible1

3 people found this helpful

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One of the best books

Such a phenomenal book that I think anyone of voting age needs to read. So much of it can be seen in our current global political landscape.

1 person found this helpful

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Better listened to than read.

I have always heard everyone say that it is not an easy hook to read due to the lack of punctuation. Atwood saved this in the Historical Notes, I think, explaining that it is a tape, rather than a diary. Claire Danes narrates it expertly, keeping it easy to follow and setting the tone perfectly. If it wasn’t for the lady chapter this would have gotten a 3 star in story since I found it dragged and I reached a point where I really just wanted it to be over. But the concept is terrifying and catching. Definitely worth a read- or listen to.

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A thrilling dystopia!

The best dystopian novels are those that in a way describe our own societies and show to which extent and how fast things can change for the worse. Atwood's description of thoughts, feelings, and the overall psychological state of her characters makes for a very interesting read. Danes' narration adapts Atwood's style almost perfectly to the audiobook format. Thrilling!

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Information parceled out gently&perfectly timed...

The telling of the story was just right. Pieces coming together to form a vision. It felt like I was slowly being boiled alive as the reality of the world at that moment was revealed bit by bit. Genius.

I listened at 1.15x and it was the perfect speed for me. Claire Danes has a lovely voice and it was definitely helpful in bringing the story to life as well as listening for long periods.

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  • Viv
  • 2020-06-30

A twisted tale , a pager turner for sure

I couldn’t wait to find the time to continue this incredible fiction . Very interesting story line but the scary part is that I could imagine it becoming reality.

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loved it

really enjoyed every part of this production and story. I would recommend it for sure.

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What a talent!

Margaret Atwood is incredible! I do t know why I waited so long to enjoy this novel. Claire Danes was the perfect choice of narrator. I highly recommend this book.

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Very Good- good narration

Having read the book many years ago I couldn’t remember most of the story - now
Seems to be very popular again - likely due to the new series. Thoroughly enjoyed the story. Normally I do not listen to fiction on audible but I highly recommend this book. It kept your interest and the narrator had a pleasant voice. Often there are books I would get but am turned of by the chosen narrator.

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  • Jeff de la Tours
  • 2017-05-26

Wow

Any additional comments?

This is just an incredible book. Atwood's metaphors, allusions and insights are all top notch. A true masterwork of writing. Any student of literature should have this on their list of great books. As for the audiobook version I thought Claire Danes did a fantastic job reading this with emphasis and soul. She really added an extra emotional component to the reading that other non-actors might not have been able to bring.

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  • Deleon Lindsay
  • 2017-09-08

it's alright

needed more about what was going on in the world while this was going on

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  • adrienne
  • 2017-07-20

Claire did a fabulous job!

I want to say that I loved the book. I want to say that I couldn't put it down. I want to say that this is going to go down as one of the best books I've ever read. Unfortunately, I felt in a way that the book was lacking some information and some key points to the story that would have gripped me a little more. I'm used to reading novels that leave you at the end wanting more, wanting answers, wanting something defined, but I felt like this book was missing chapters missing pages missing paragraphs. Somewhere there had to be something more but not in a way that most books leave you, ...

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  • Craig
  • 2017-07-10

Great book...

Any additional comments?

Claire Danes is a brilliant actor, and I've read this book years ago but with her as the story teller I was inclined to listen to it again. To be honest, I was a little disappointed by Claire Danes as the performer of the book. It took a good two or three chapters to wrap my head around her delivery of the text, but the text is so strong that whatever it was about Claire's performance was overshadowed by the story itself. I mean, she wasn't bad, but I guess I just expected so much more because when you see her on the screen as an actor she's really, really good. Really good. If it was anyone else putting in this performance it would be good, but because you expect so much more from Claire Danes the performance is just alright.

Strangely, I don't remember the book being written first person, present tense the first time I read it, but there it is, told in the first person/present tense, exactly how everyone tells you NOT to write. Again, it was distracting for a while, but once you got into the story you didn't notice so much.

I've read a few of Atwood's books, and they aren't necessarily my favourite, but post-apocalyptic stories are strangely fascinating to me and this story is well wrought and disturbing because it feels like it could happen, that we are laying the groundwork for it to happen if we aren't careful.

Anyway, A Handmaid's Tale is a great story and worth listening to, and Claire Danes is good but not brilliant by her standards, but good enough. Give it a go, you'll enjoy the story or come away scared by how possible it all is.

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  • Lynn
  • 2017-05-15

A Masterful Work of Fiction

Poetically written and masterfully done. And Clare Danes was the perfect narrator. As many others are saying, this is a timely book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-11-30

Couldn't even finish this book

I never start a book and give up on it but I just could not finish this book. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about.