Before The Testaments, there was The Handmaid’s Tale: an instant classic and eerily prescient cultural phenomenon, from “the patron saint of feminist dystopian fiction” (New York Times).
The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian masterpiece is having something of a moment, and we can't think of a more worthy novel. Elegantly told and absolutely unforgettable, The Handmaid's Tale is a chilling depiction of the United States as a theocracy where women are cast as subservient wives, household slaves, or gestation vessels for white babies. It's a decidedly apt cautionary tale for this (and any) time.
Equal parts gorgeous and horrifying, Nault's adaptation faithfully follows both the plot and style of Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel. Narrator Offred lives in Gilead, a United States that is both unrecognizable and too familiar: the government strips women of their freedom in the name of protecting them, discards the old and infirm, and loves fetuses more than the living. Offred says, "Everything Handmaids wear is red: the color of blood, which defines us." Nault's reds are rich and layered watercolors, rust to flame. In one frame, she draws hanged Handmaid bodies as drooping crimson flowers. Nault's semiabstracted interpretations of traumatic scenes are stronger than the story's more pedestrian moments, when it's hard not to feel the flatness of the pale characters' expressions. Painting life in Gilead's toxic, war-torn Colonies, Nault takes great advantage of the graphic form. In Atwood's text, exile is frightening because it is a void. Here the cancer-eaten jaw of an "unwoman" worker is on full display. Atwood fans may shrug at another incarnation of this classic, but it's skillfully done and likely to appeal to younger readers; the tale's relevance and Nault's talent are undeniable.
A cautionary tale well heeded
With the current climate of religious fervor in politics, this book should be required reading. Call it theocracy, totalitarianism, or dystopian, Gilead is a warning of what may become of us if we lose hold of our rights and freedoms especially due to fear and superstition.
Fascism in America
A great story! This is the type of control which is handed over when we vote for those who pass out government checks and "benefits", rather than voting for those who actually believe in Freedom and personal responsibility. If we so quietly expect those in charge to just "do the right thing" because it is right, we will be sorely disappointed. The form of control any "regime" takes will vary. However, there will always be enemies of the state in a Fascist government. Bias against these "enemies" will be based upon political or religious views, etc. Americans need to get their faces out of Dancing With The Stars and other such diversions, and first study History and vote accordingly. Stop taking the hand out, and start being responsible for your own financial situation. It's called a Work Ethic.
Don't let this become reality
Many aspects of this book are becoming extremely relevant. We should do something before this actually happens.