Dust off your Classics : The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

August 5, 2015 Book review, Dust off Your Classics 22 ★★★★

Once upon a time there were two bookworms who wanted to read Classics.  But they were afraid, a little intimidated and needed encouragement.  So they joined forces and formed the Dust off your Classics challenge to support each other.  Dee from Dee Read’s and myself read our way through some good classics, some great classics and found so much in these books that is surprisingly still relevant.  So much so that I want to continue reading them and will continue to share my thoughts here on any I get through.

Dust off Your Classics


This time around I’m dusting off a dystopia book that I’ve been meaning to read for years and giving you five reasons why you might considering dusting it off too.  And I know it’s not old, old but I do still consider it a classic as it has set the standard for so many dystopia books and it’s one of those cult books that I had never read.


Dust off your Classics : The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Published by McClelland & Stewart Limited on March 16th 1985
Genres: Classic, Dystopia, Emotions & Feelings
Pages: 311
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Claire Danes
Buy on Amazon

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

Five Classic Reasons to dust off and read The Handmaiden’s Tale :

1.  It is a book that every woman should read. It makes you reflect on fertility and freedom and just what it means to be a woman. It’s sombre and sinister and gave me all the chills. The rights denied to women in this society make you appreciate all the more just how much we take for granted and make me want to celebrate all the lack of restrictions in my life.

“There is no such thing as a sterile man anymore, not officially. There are only women who are fruitful and women who are barren, that’s the law”

2.  So many of today’s YA dystopia books are mirrored on The Handmaiden’s Tale and reading the mama of all these books is inspiring and thought-provoking. So if you enjoyed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill or Delirium by Lauren Oliver, then try this one.

3.  The language is stunning. It’s metaphor heaven! From beginning to end, it is full of vivid comparisons and Margaret Atwood left me reeling with how blunt and stark her imagery was at times.

4.  The non linear format kept me riveted. It jumped around a lot and kept my attention firmly. And I found myself listening keenly to decipher just what was true and what was just hopeful imaginings. The narrator is unreliable as she frequently admits:

“But that’s not how it really happened”

5.  The narration by Clare Danes is the best narration I’ve ever heard. She IS Offred and her depiction of all the emotions made this a much more powerful and lively read than if I had read it myself.

Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read The Handmaidens’s Tale by Margaret Atwood?

Well you!  If you three or more or my reasons above resonate with you!


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22 Responses to “Dust off your Classics : The Handmaiden’s Tale by Margaret Atwood”

  1. Celine

    The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the contemporary classics that I’d love to read soon. I know many authors cite this as their inspiration, so it’ll be fascinating to finally read the source material 😀 I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it!
    Celine recently posted…I’m on Vacation!

    • trish

      That was a huge part of my inspiration for reading this one. I love YA dystopia’s and I’m always seeing that The Handmaiden’s Tale inspired the author so I really wanted to check the original out. And it didn’t disappoint!

    • trish

      Thanks for that Rhianna, that is one I haven’t heard of but I’ll go to GR now and mark it to read. More in the same vibe sounds good to me 🙂

  2. Rita @ View From My Home

    Nice review! I like to read folks’ takes on the Classics–especially contemporary ones, because I just can’t bring myself to read any recently but I did enjoy quite a bit in my time.

    I read this novel in high school: 3rd year, Women’s Lit class, taught by a wonderful feminist teacher and I remember it clearly because it was one of my absolute favorite classes in school! It was an elective English class, and I loved her selections of books. This book I distinctly remember parts of and my enjoyment of it all these years later. It shocked me somewhat, being such a sheltered young adult, but gave me food for thought. We also read A Doll’s House by Ibsen, an older classic.

    I’m glad you were into the audio version of this– Clare Danes is one of the younger actresses of our time that I have great respect for, after binge-watching Homeland on Netflix this year.
    Rita @ View From My Home recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday- 8/4/15

    • trish

      I would love to do a Women’s Lit class, it sounds like a lot of fun. I’d say you had some lively discussions in that class especially if the teacher was passionate about her subject and it sounds like she was. I haven’t read A Doll’s House but I’ll make a note of it now as a future classic read.

      I agree, I’m a huge fan of Claire Danes too. She was outstanding in Homeland.

  3. Kelly

    The Handmaiden’s Tale is one I read WAY back in the day. While I really don’t remember much, I do remember loving it. Not as much as my *favorite* of all time ‘Brave New World’ – (which also just so happens to be a brilliant dystopian). I like this idea of breathing new life into the classics that are collecting dust.

    xoxo – Kelly
    Kelly recently posted…Fashion: Poolside OOTD with BooHoo

    • trish

      I read Brave New World in college and I remember enjoying it too. But I think it’s one I really need to read again as I have forgotten more than I remember. Also it was the first dystopian book that I read and I don’t think I appreciated it as much then as I would now.

    • trish

      Yay, I know it’s one I’d like to reread again in a few years too. It’s is such a powerful book and I know that a reread would give me a fresh insight into it.

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