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Publisher's Summary

"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.

Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).

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. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.

Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen.

©1985 O.W. Toad, Ltd. First American Edition 1986. Published by special arrangement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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Editorial Review

Rediscover the classic story of The Handmaid’s Tale in this all-new adaptation featuring bonus content and never before heard interviews.

Margaret Atwood’s most famous science-fiction novel has been a treasure of Canada for decades but has seen a resurgence of popularity in more recent years. Its themes have continued to stay relevant over the years - in large part due to the Emmy award-winning tv series (on primetime and Hulu).

Though the Canadian author Margaret Atwood has a distinctly Canadian voice, this New York Times bestseller and Booker Prize-winning dystopian fiction addresses universal issues of autonomy, feminism, the rights of fertile women - and females more generally - and the power and suppression of government. Set in a totalitarian theocracy of the near-future New England Puritanism with sci-fi elements, the issues have become more and more relevant to modern-day life, where femininity and the right to bear children - or not - are constantly under attack. These themes and tropes of women’s rights, jezebels fundamentalists and unwomen will connect with you on a very real level, making the harrowing totalitarian republic of Gilead and its colonies, although surreal, feel far more plausible than ever before.

The award-winning actress and season professional Claire Danes narrated this audiobook adaptation of the dystopian novel. Her bold style and dynamic voice are the perfect match for this story, and she gives a stunning performance alongside a full cast of voice actors. Each character - from lead Offred to the Commander, Janine, Serena Joy, Aunt Lydia, Moira, and the rest come to life, bringing you a true sense of a complete and startling world into which you can sink. This classic story of dystopia is powerful, moving, and full of harsh warnings and is a must-listen for those hearing it for the first time. Similarly, as a special edition, there are several never before heard features for fans of the work to uncover. If you love this audiobook, you may also enjoy The Testaments sequel. Add both to your Audible wish list today.

What listeners say about The Handmaid's Tale

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2x Speed

The narrator reads very slowly, which I find is common for actors who are new to narrating. Listened to the whole book on 2x speed and it didn't feel rushed at all.

19 people found this helpful

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

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.

12 people found this helpful

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A collage of historically disregarded sacrifice

This is poignant and so relevant. All powerful people know that to control the population, you must control the women. How better to do this than by the manipulation of faith and the spread of misinformation and scapegoating? It's chilling to think how close to the truth this may become if we don't pay attention.
This book is magnificently written and a must read for all thoughtful, intelligent human beings.

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definitely worth it

i find this book very interesting. it was wonderfully performed, and the content very intriguing. I have found myself on more than one occasion rethinking certain aspects of our every day life because of certain statements in the book, statements that make you think things we take for granted today. while the book itself is a dystopian it also leaves me feeling fortunate for where and how I can live life today.

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A fabulous and terrifying read

It was excellent in 1985 when I first read it, and is just as wonderful today. Narrator was very believable.

8 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

I'd heard so much about this book and love the TV series so I was shocked that I disliked this book so much. I found the story telling choppy, it didn't flow well. Overall a very disappointing experience.

7 people found this helpful

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Still incredible

As the essay says, what makes a story timeless, is that it is even more timely as time goes on.

I somehow had never read The Handmaid’s Tale, but was very curious about it for a long time. After watching the incredible TV show in 2017, I knew I had to read it, and now I’m so glad I did with this audible book. The narration by Claire Danes is excellent.

Get this book!

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Really entertaining and timely

I think that the Handmaid’s Tale will also be a timely story because it goes to the depths of what it means to be human.
Someone would say that this could never happen but I believe that unfortunately it is a quasi reality in some cases, the story is very well developed.
The end is the best part because it let’s your mind wonder freely on what will actually happen. It is fantastic, first book I have read/listen from Atwood, I will certainly read others in the future.

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Not as exciting as I anticipated

Although I did like this book, I was expecting something a little more. Worth the read though.

6 people found this helpful

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struggle to finish it

it was very hard to keep listening to this book. I did not enjoy it one bit

5 people found this helpful

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  • TaylorAlma
  • 2017-08-21

Amazing read.

Absolutely love the way this story was written, although I don't feel satisfied with the abrupt ending of offred's story.

I don't know why there are so many reviews asking about why there is music throughout, it is a vital part of the story when you get to the ending. Definitely recommend!

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  • DrHex
  • 2017-04-26

Silly scratchy musical transitions

Wonderful story with excellent narrative performance. That said, what is with the ridiculous scratchy music transitions at the beginning of section chapters? The sounds bear no reference to the plot and are irrelevant. The sound engineers didn't give any breathing time between these scrunch scratches and the narrative either making the production appear amateur.

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  • Alex
  • 2018-08-25

Second time is even better than the first

Title says it all. Should be required reading in all schools around the world period.

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  • Justin
  • 2017-07-22

Boring Story

Not much happens in the story but the insight in the epilogue are worth listening to at least independently.

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  • HaleyDRS
  • 2017-05-14

Great book

Claire Danes is a great narrator. I really enjoyed listening to her.
What in earth is with the music between chapters? It was terrible and takes you out of the story.

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  • Dawn
  • 2022-06-30

The Future in History

This is a remarkable book that explores the behaviour of people in generations past recreating their double in the present world and the foreseeable future. It is no wonder that Atwood has become so well-regarded. Her ability to layer plots and characters created an incredible mosaic that captures the readers attention and is highly thought provoking. A great book!

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  • Bella reads romance
  • 2021-02-28

A great classic story

Well written, but a scary potential reality - especially with current events in very recent times (I know Margaret Atwood spoke out after the storming of the Capitol in January that when she wrote this in 1985 she never imagined it ever truly happening, and seeing it before her eyes terrified her).

I've only seen the first 3 episodes of the show, but I have purchased the DVDs of the first 2 seasons, and I know the next season (not sure if it's season 3 or 4!) starts in April. I hope to be able to watch it now that I have the full background of the book. Watching the show wasn't able to fully hold my interest at the time, a couple years ago, but I think I will be able to have a full appreciate it now. The parts of the show I can recall (and oddly, even about 2 years later I recall quite a bit of those 3 episodes! Unusual for me, especially so long after), were extremely close to the book. Anyone that has watched should read, because it's close (from what I can tell and recall) and will give even more in-depth information about what she is trying to convey about this fall of civilization.

I'm about to start book 2, The Testaments (she published this book only in Sept 2019, a long time after the original - is it updated and more contemporary or just a continuation of Handmaid's Tale, the rest of Offred's story?).


I bought this special edition audio (narrated by Claire Danes - excellent job!) that came with the extended afterword from the author, that sheds quite a bit more light on what she was writing and what she was thinking at the time. I really appreciated the additional insight! It also has an extra "classroom" lecture type setting that goes into a diary of a handmaiden. Definitely worth getting this one over the other, if you're not sure which one to go with (the extra voices are in that piece at the end - where they claim to have found a diary from the handmaiden and are discussing it in a lecture, many years later. Gives more info and insight into what life was like in a more anthropological way, even though it's just a quick segment, it's great!). I also bought the box-set of paperbacks of the 2 books together, and could read along.

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  • Yevgen Yasynskyy
  • 2019-12-11

THE HANDMAID'S TALE

There should be no need to write a review for this book. It is now Canadian classic that has been made into the TV show. I love how Margaret tell the story, although it was not what I was expected. I wish there was more answers... :)

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  • Tayliegh Lopez
  • 2019-10-24

whoa¡

In the late 1980's I saw a movie similar to the book. I prefer the book. Subjugation and oppression for the baby makers, history sounding off in fiction.

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  • Karen
  • 2019-02-16

Excellent!

A gripping performance of Atwood's novel. this edition has the added bonus of an afterword by the author and a reflective essay by a critic.