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Book DetailsISBN: 9780099511663
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Book Review: Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - Reviewed by ohbukowski (17 Jun 2011)
A totalitarian regime, racist, patriarchal and fundamentalist christian, takes over America, using a fake 'Islamist Attack' to kill the President and take away the rights of women.
Set in a future when fertility is low and therefore fertile women are valuable, Offred (her slave name, Of Fred,) is used as a baby making machine. Other slave-concubines can only hope to conceive and carry a child for their Masters and Mistresses, and in return live out their dotage in comfortable surrounds.
Barren or unsuccessful slave women are sent to the mines, where intellectuals, other races, and women who have no use in the regime, die at backbreaking work.
Offred looks back on her life with her husband and child (who has been given to another childless couple of the ruling regime). She realises that she didn't know then what happiness was. She didn't know that she had it then.
A wonderful book. It has strong feminist themes but can also be read as a science fiction novel.
The intimacy of living with people who do not care for her rights or opinions, who could send her to her death, and who thus have nothing to hide from Offred, is wonderfully drawn.
An allegory for slavery and apartheid, this book is seminal feminist and humanist fiction.
Margaret Atwood is Canada's most eminent novelist, poet and critic. Her books include The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Alias Grace, Cat's Eye, which was short-listed for the Booker Prize and The Handmaid's Tale, which won both the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction and the Governor-General's Award, was short-listed for the Booker Prize and made into a major film. She lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson and their daughter.
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