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Any one fancy a discussion thread for the handmaid's tale?

(43 Posts)
Oldwestaction Wed 07-Jun-17 07:46:05

Well, after watching the first two episodes on catch up, I downloaded the book on Monday and finished it yesterday. I just could not put it down!
I've read the thread which is following the tv series but don't want to add on there and spoil for those who haven't read the book.
I had lots of questions whizzing round my head last night which I have now forgotten! Sure they'll come back to me though!
Interested to hear other's thoughts on the book and also how they feel the show compares?

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Soubriquet Wed 07-Jun-17 07:48:07

I've just started reading it

I'm up to chapter 20. It's hard to put it down at night (I read a few chapters before going to sleep)

countingdown Wed 07-Jun-17 07:50:25

I have just been looking at it on audible. I might download it.

FlysInDreams Wed 07-Jun-17 09:25:07

I've not read it for years, so would need to read it again, but I'm in!

I also need to catch up on the TV version as I've only seen the first episode so far.

Oldwestaction Wed 07-Jun-17 12:02:42

counting I would definitely download it. It's fantastic and easy to see why it's on the A level syllabus. Incredibly thought provoking!
sou are you also watching the series?
flys yes do re read and report back! No one in my circle of friends has read it and I'm dying to hear others thoughts on it smile

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toastymarshmallow Wed 07-Jun-17 12:07:33

I am marking place as I have ordered a physical copy and I know that once it arrives I will read it and NEED to discuss it!

Bookreader2403 Thu 08-Jun-17 15:53:27

I first read this book about 15 years ago.. it has never left me and I'm finding the TV adaptation extremely well done, so far. Its a scary read, especially in today's climate!

Oldwestaction Thu 08-Jun-17 20:48:01

reader it is isn't it. I think reading as a woman the thing that hits home is that any one of the 'roles' of the female characters would be yours. No one is exempt from having to have one of the miserable lifestyles on offer.

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SomewhatIdiosyncratic Fri 09-Jun-17 03:56:14

I studied dysutopias in A-Level English including extracts of The Handmaid's Tale. I like Margaret Atwood anyway and bought a copy of it some years ago. I've re-read it in the last couple of weeks.

I don't think you're ready for me to chat about it yet!

Soubriquet Fri 09-Jun-17 08:02:08

Ive just finished!!

But dissapointed by the end though

limeandsoda93 Sat 10-Jun-17 23:19:09

I finished it on Monday. I have a lot of thoughts about it but I'm not very articulate! I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts about it though. Did anyone else is that it seems to come to an end quite suddenly? I was reading on an iPad and wasn't looking at how far through I was so didn't have a clue that the end was nigh!

Oldwestaction Sun 11-Jun-17 11:45:11

I was disappointed by the end. I couldn't decide if it had been left open like that for the possibility of another book, or if it was for the reader to explore their own ideas of what they thought happened next?
Given it was written over 30 years ago I think the second book theory is out.
One of my questions is about the commanders wife. I got the impression she hated offred and what she represented, so why towards the end of the book did she seem to soften towards her? I don't imagine they spent any real time together so I don't think it was a case that she grew to like her as she got to know her.
I wonder if she had suspicions about her and the commander long before she found the cloak, and was worried offred would take her place? Interested to hear other thoughts on that....

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AndNoneForGretchenWieners Sun 11-Jun-17 11:55:38

I got the feeling that the commander's wife is ashamed of her infertility and so resents Offred, but at the same time is disaffected with the way Gilead works, as I think she had certain expectations of the state which aren't delivering exactly as she had anticipated. I haven't read the book for years though, so may be misremembering.

SuperFlyHigh Mon 12-Jun-17 09:00:57

This book is one of my 'read agains'.

For some strange reason I like the small minutiae of the handmaidens' chores and outings and the dialogue between them and the nightclub scene.

I also quite like the open ended end as you're not sure what happens for good or bad...

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Mon 12-Jun-17 09:02:49

I need to read it again as I first read it when it came out! I can't believe that is possible tbh,it seems 5 mins ago!

Tinkhasflown Mon 12-Jun-17 09:47:22

As disturbing as it is I am loving the tv series so have downloaded the book. I can't wait to finish up my current read so that I can delve into this.

Oldwestaction Mon 12-Jun-17 19:49:03

somewhat please could you recommend some other dystopian novels?

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Wormulonian Wed 14-Jun-17 11:03:19

I'm not the person you asked but many years ago I read quite a few dystopian novels- so these are "classics" rather than more up to date ones and like the HMT are mainly "speculative fiction" about things that have happened or could happen (based on Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia etc)

We - Yevgeny Zamyatin
1984 - George Orwell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Iron Heel - Jack London (written in 1908!)
It can't happen Here - Sinclair Lewis
Logan's Run
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Do Android's dream of Electric sheep- Philip K Dick

Margaret Atwood's Maddaddam triology is great, especially the second book of the series The Year of the Flood. She recently wrote some internet fiction which was published last year on Kindle called The Heart Goes Last which is set in the near future - it is funny and horrifying and well worth a read

aginghippy Wed 14-Jun-17 11:20:41

I read the book when it first came out and re-read it recently. Haven't started the TV series yet.

I don't think the commander's wife was treating Offred better towards the end because her feelings changed, more that she wanted something. If Offred had sex with Nick it increased the chances of her getting pregnant. Also, as pp said, the commander's wife was disaffected with her situation and the reality of Gilead not living up to her earlier ideals.

aginghippy Wed 14-Jun-17 11:22:10

Another dystopian novel recommendation - The Power by Naomi Alderman.

Wormulonian Wed 14-Jun-17 11:46:28


SuperFlyHigh I also liked where the main book ended - is Nick to be trusted?

I found the epilogue jarring - it is a big change in tone and a bit confusing at first but I liked the exploration of the idea that in the future events that are so visceral to us now will just be a footnote in history and judged more pragmatically. I was watching TV a few weeks back (while reading THMT) and it was brought up that on the Daily Politics in 2008 Diane Abbot said that “I suppose some people will judge that on balance Mao did more good than harm. You can't say that about the Nazis" - could have been in the Epilogue about the Gilead regime.

I did not get the sense that Offred was "recording" her thoughts at a later date as I read the main text, more that she was talking directly to me as the reader in the present. Was Offred even the recorder of the historical tapes in the epilogue?

I thought it was sad but true that Offred was from the difficult transitional generation who had known freedom but that for her daughter the Gileadean way of life would be the norm. Would her daughter be married off in a mass wedding in a few years time?

When I first read the book (when it came out) I was in my early 20's and so identified with Offred the most but basically I'm a Martha now - a drudge and invisible work horse.

No one was happy in the book they all seemed depressed - even the Commanders who seemed to "have it all" lived under the threat of Purges.

SomewhatIdiosyncratic Wed 14-Jun-17 22:07:33

It is written like a flow of consciousness and specifically about her own narrow experience of the changes in society.

The openness of the ending is unusual but makes sense within the context given.

The TV series is begining to differ from the narrow focus of the book, but feels in keeping. I notice that Margaret Atwood is a consulting producer. Given that the book is a good 30 years old, there's good scope to update with content in line with social awareness.

I have wondered how women are allocated their roles, particularly Wives and Econowives. I presume it's based on their previous level of class. The handmaids are more clear as they've been proven fertile already although in less moral circumstances such as Offred's husband having been divorced.

Trills Wed 14-Jun-17 22:20:59

I expect the wives /econowives are allocated based on the class of their husbands. Since they are the ones who matter.

Trills Wed 14-Jun-17 22:22:00

I reread the book recently and I was amazed at how far through I was before it was made clear precisely what Offred's "job" was.

Wormulonian Thu 15-Jun-17 13:09:43

Offred clocks that Nick is so low status that he hasn't been allocated "a woman." I thought that later on we would find out that these men had a brothel for them too to keep them working for the regime for which they could earn points (like soldiers had in Victorian times)

I always wondered if the econowives were fertile and if so, were they allowed to keep their babies or would they be "adopted" by the elite.

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