Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundorum.

Been wanting to read this book for the longest time, and finally got to knock it out. A 300 page read, this book has one of the most unique “voices” I have come across. The book contains short, crisp sentences in fragmented narrative structures that bounce back and forth between timelines and locations – and yet the book manages to feel seamless, expansive and smooth. Heavily descriptive and mastering “show don’t tell”, the book manages to get us both in the head and the surroundings of our main character – “Offred”.

In the introduction, Margaret Atwood writes:

“If you mean an ideological tract in which all women are angels and/or so victimized they are incapable of moral choice, no. If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes.”

It is very important to understand this basic perspective to consider Atwood’s novel.

The book captures beautifully the humans in tyranny- those that simultaneously suffer from it and uphold it. It depicts the deep, flawed guesswork that goes into forming friendships and alliances in a dystopian world, and the longing and nostalgia for love that has been lost.

It’s a classic for a reason.