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The Handmaid's Tale

Special Edition
Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,221 ratings)

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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.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 of 4 people found this review 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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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One of the most important books ever written

Finally got around to reading this book, which I know is a Canadian masterpiece. Given everything going on in my province (Ontario), country (Canada), and to our southern neighbours, it’s scary how it seems like this book could have been written last week (instead of thirty years ago). Super interesting that all the crazy things that happen in this book are taken from actual historical events (Salem witch trials, nazi Germany etc.). Can’t wait to read the newly released sequel and the rest of Atwood’s books.

2 of 2 people found this review 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!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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.

12 of 16 people found this review 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.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Insightful

Wow! I have put off reading this book until Margaret Atwood released her new book. I felt that I needed to read this book first to derive maximum enjoyment from the new novel. Very disquieting and disturbing in a good way to really make you think. I am so grateful that I have the enhanced version because the additional essay was insightful but most enlightening was the afterward and historical notes presented by Margaret Atwood herself. I am once again grateful that we have such a brilliant Canadian author. It is easy to see how she has inspired much of Louise Penny’s Gamache series philosophy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Quite the story

I really enjoyed this special addition. Very interesting story. It really makes you think about how our society is handling the environment changes of today. #audible1

1 of 1 people found this review 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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-08-10

Great and timely book

Excellent and detailed story that shows us how history and the future merge together to better understand issues that are both timely and relevant in today's world.

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  • Julie
  • 2017-09-17

Loved it, but one thing irked me

Clair Danes is a master narrator. I was drawn in to the story. Made to believe I could actually be hearing a firsthand account.

The one thing that bothered me was the chapter Intros. The solemn reading of the chapter number often followed by the audible click of a cassette player to play a brief clip of music, and another click to stop the music. It feels jarring. Unpolished without being purposeful. Rather than feeling jarred in the sense of "This is breifly putting the listener back into the time frame this fictional woman lived and lost", it feels like something you'd do as an angsty teen to try and add weight to a self-recorded oration of poems you'd written, without trying to edit the music in after like you would for a mix tape. Your friend is in on it. She reads the titles of each poem and runs the other cassette player. It's the kind of "serious" thing you get REALLY into at the time, but when you and your friend listen to it again as adults, it's just painfully funny.

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  • Dan
  • 2017-09-11

exceptional

you can't beat Margaret she is a Canadian icon and will go down hopefully not for a long time as one of the greatest authors of our time

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  • Adele
  • 2017-08-07

excellent narration captivating story.

This distopian story is dramatic and intense but not implausable. Margaret draws a character that I didn't always like, but I was always rooting for.

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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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful