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The Handmaid’s Tale (UK pace, so no spoilers from the US/Israel/Aus please)

(448 Posts)
Ivy40 Wed 24-Jul-19 12:31:52

This is a new thread where we can refer to the original book, published in 1985 (including the epilogue). Everyone is welcome to speculate on how the writers will get us from the book (end of series 1) to the epilogue (we’re assuming this will be series 10). Plus any other interesting plot developments that you have noticed.

No spoilers from the US/Israel/Aus etc please, as we in the UK are 2-3 episodes behind. We don’t want to KNOW what happens next, we just enjoy speculating and enjoy the plot development.

The basics:
Margaret Atwood wrote the Handmaid’s Tale in the 1980s, it was first published in 1985.

She said that she didn’t use anything that hadn’t happened in real life.

Series 1 finished at the end of the book.

There is an epilogue though.

Hulu have said that there will be 10 series.

We are assuming that series 10 will be the epilogue.

That means that Hulu have a lot of creative licence in series 2-9, as long as what they create leads to what we know is the epilogue.

Margaret Atwood is a consultant writer on the tv series.

The Testaments are being released in September 2019, written by Margaret Atwood. Set 15 years ahead of the ending in the original book and will be the stories of 4 different narrators, not June’s story. MA said that she based the Handmaid’s Tale on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, so we’re expecting “A Wife”s Tale”, “A Martha’s Tale” etc.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 12:36:42

Great. I’ll post my theories tonight.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 12:37:25

Including my Serena Joy one that got deleted off the old thread as I had referred to the book.

CruCru Wed 24-Jul-19 14:03:42

Thank you! I used to really enjoy these threads (they reminded me of having housemates who would sit and rant about the news with me) but they’ve got a bit weirdly mean.

Please can these threads be a bit kinder? I really don’t want spoilers from people who’ve watched ahead but am okay with chat about the book and people’s theories.

CruCru Wed 24-Jul-19 14:07:30

I don’t know if I’ll have the stamina for ten series. I was rather hoping that this wouldn’t become a GOT epic. Hey ho.

easterbuns1 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:13:42

I have just started reading the other threads as I have caught up with the ones shown on tv after binging the previous seasons. Would people recommend I read the original book? Saw the sequel advertised in Waterstones the other week and thought I really should pick up the first one but wasn't sure on the difference in time lines between book and series at that point. Thanks in advance!

CurbsideProphet Wed 24-Jul-19 14:15:56

Series 1 was based on the original novel. Series 2 and now 3 aren't classed as a sequel to the novel, they continue the story laid out in the tv adaptation. Hopefully that makes sense!

Ricky44 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:16:53

Absolutely read the original book! Some things will be a lot clearer. It’s not a big read to be fair.

CurbsideProphet Wed 24-Jul-19 14:16:57

The Testaments is Margaret Atwood's own sequel to The Handmaid's Tale and will not bear any resemblance to the tv adaptation.

Tinkhasflown Wed 24-Jul-19 14:18:02

It's been a while since I read the book, so I'll have to maybe go back and at least reread the epilogue.

Ricky44 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:18:52


We’ll be referring to the book and epilogue. With our wild assumptions as to how the tv writers are going to get us from the end of the book (end of series 1) to the epilogue (which we’re assuming will be the epilogue).

CurbsideProphet Wed 24-Jul-19 14:19:12

10 series does seem extreme, if it's all focused on June trying to find Hannah and escape. I hope she gets more involved in the resistance.

Ricky44 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:19:35

Sorry, I meant that we are assuming that the epilogue will be series 10.

ethelredonagoodday Wed 24-Jul-19 14:19:35

Ten series?! Blimey!

Ricky44 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:38:37

According to Hulu, there will be 10 series.

It will be interesting when the Testaments come out as there will be other narrators and I’m wondering if series 4 will go down the same lines.

The Handmaid’s Tale is June’s story. In the book, they don’t know what happened to her, the story was put together from some tapes that were found. I’m not sure how much further we can go with June’s story which is why I’m wondering if they switch to other narrators and we hear about Gilead from a Wife or an Eye.

Ricky44 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:54:37

Who do we think is in the resistance?

I have a theory that June’s Mum, Holly might be part of it. We know she was a doctor and a feminist. She performed abortions but Gilead might not know that because she destroyed the records at her clinic.

She was sent to the agricultural colonies and we haven’t heard from her since. She may still be there or she may be dead but I like to think that she escaped and is a major player in the resistance somewhere.

Maybe wishful thinking on my part, as I would love it if a female was instrumental in bringing down the patriarchy of Gilead.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 14:58:46

Show trivia...

Joseph Fiennes is having therapy because playing Fred has disturbed him so much. He also refuses to let his young daughters watch it because he doesn’t want them to see him as Fred.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 15:08:33

Nick’s an enigma isn’t he, really can’t get my head around him. Will post more when I’m home later.

Ivy40 Wed 24-Jul-19 15:19:59

June’s Dad is a character that could be developed further too.

We know that June’s mum, Holly, got pregnant deliberately on a one night stand and brought June up as a single mother.

The only thing we know about her Dad is when June and Emily are walking past a church that’s being knocked down, June says “that’s my fathers parish, I had my daughter christened there”.

That leaves it open. We don’t know if he was a vicar or just went to church there. If he was a vicar, it would have to be in a reasonably liberal church in order for him to openly recognise his illegitimate daughter.

Ivy40 Wed 24-Jul-19 15:34:58


Interesting theory. I liked June’s mum and it would be good if she came back into the series somehow. The writers are very good at leaving a lot of things open.

We know June and Nick went into a bedroom together before Nick left for Chicago but we didn’t see them have sex. So now there’s speculation that June maybe pregnant to Nick again.

Ivy40 Wed 24-Jul-19 15:49:02

Ooh, and we have Aunt Lydia’s back story coming up in this Sunday’s episode. It will be interesting to see what turned her into what she is.

Ivy40 Wed 24-Jul-19 15:53:13

There are some amazing actors in THT. Fred, Moira, Janine, Emily and Aunt Lydia all stand out for me.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 16:03:19

I can’t wait for the Aunt Lydia backstory. I have a feeling that she was a teacher. I used to think mid wife/matron but then she said that she didn’t have any medical experience.

She is definitely a true believer in the religious extremism of Gilead. She genuinely thinks she’s saving the handmaids souls, as they are fallen women and being a Handmaid is chance for their redemption.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 16:08:33

I’m not sure that Fred is a true believer - I think he’s in it for the power and status.

Kenny33 Wed 24-Jul-19 16:59:26

Serena is a lot cleverer than Fred.

She wrote the book “A Woman’s Work” which promoted women staying at home and being good wives and mothers, rather than going out to work. She had also been a tele evangelist and was a religious conservative. I don’t think she had any idea how far Gilead would take it and it’s much more strict (and corrupt) then she was expecting. Do you remember the scene in series 1, Nick was driving Fred and Commander Price when they came up with the ceremony? That wasn’t Serena’s idea.

That said, she is a ruthless and cruel person. When she met Mark Tuello (representing the US Givernment in exile) in Canada in series 2, he gave her his contact details and we saw her burn them. When she met him again in Canada in series 3 he gave her a satellite phone and she appears to have kept it.

I think this rekindling of the romance with Fred is her playing him. He’s corrupt, has affairs, whipped her and chopped her finger off. She hates him. I think she intends to go to Canada to be with Nicole/Holly, I’m just not sure how yet but I think she is planning on asking Tuello to get her out in exchange for info on Gilead.

Not sure if she’ll be allowed to have Nicole/Holly. If the world laws are still as we know them she’ll be a war criminal, but maybe immunity from prosecution will be part of the deal she strikes with Tuello.

Tuello is grooming Serena to be an informant. He’s absolutely charming, almost chatting her up and flattering her. When he gave her the western clothes to wear when she landed in Canada, they were all wrapped up beautifully, like gifts.

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