My mom gave me The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for Christmas and it was just the right book to start off the year. There are so many parallels to what is going on in the U.S. at the moment; talk of walls and a new set of congresswomen as examples. Do not fear however, I will eschew using my political beliefs when writing this post.
As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it, but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come…
The book is centered around women even though there are male characters. The women have been banned from reading, writing, and making their own money. Procreation is the number one priority in this society, with other women in charge of keeping order. It is written in the first person, which if you don’t know already, I hate reading. I have never been one to enjoy reading about only one perspective because to me that’s unrealistic. However, I make an exception for this book. I loved the fact that I could only understand the motives of one person because I feel as if it was easier to get a sense of what was happening in the society without having to worry about a million different ideas. Instead, you get to be the one to create your own ideas of how others might be feeling in their positions. And that can be a very fun exercise for your own imagination.
To me Atwood is very poetic in the way she writes. She creates such vivid ideas through her detailed writing of the simple things in life that we take for granted. Offred, the main character, tells us in such detail how much she misses her old life by being frank of how she was as a person between everything that happened before, and the life she is living in at the moment. The subject matter is not light and breezy, but it does make you think in a different context of what is possible in the world.
Where I am is not a prison but a privilege, as Aunt Lydia said, who was in love with either/or.
The bell that measures time is ringing. Time here is measured by bells, as once in nunneries. As in a nunnery too, there are few mirrors.
Post Script: I have no idea how the tv show holds up to the book. Maybe I will find out soon and write a post about it.