The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood
Published 1998
GoodReads rating: 4.05 out of 5
GL rating: 8 out of 10

(Comments originally posted on FB 8-9-18)

This was a stunning, gorgeously written novel, so glad I read it. I would recommend the shit out of this novel to basically everyone.

I had a couple of very minor quibbles. The explanation of the conditions that led to the crisis was treated a bit too loosely.

And the account of the coup felt glib. Although this criticism is anticipated in the novel. The protagonist is not a journalist.

The flashbacks could perhaps have been handled more effectively. The back story could have been woven into Into the present a bit more organically, although you learn a few things at the end of the book that cast the story into a different kind of light.

The last criticism — and I just need to re-emphasize that the “flaws” are trivial — is that it struck me as odd that she would situate the blame for the nightmarish patriarchy in the lap of one religious sect.

The problem of misogyny is one of the few constants across epochs, geographies, cultures, and religions. I think blaming the WASPs fails to take the deep-rooted complexity of gender issues into account.

Anyway, Atwood is an explosively talented writer; I look forward to reading The Handmaid’s Tale again at some point in the future, as well as more of her other work.

Regarding the rankings below I’m now questioning my rankings of the three novels below HMT. I may need to go back into them to jog my memory. Wondering if I’m giving Lot 49 and Blindness too much credit and Austerlitz not enough.

For the last couple of novels I’ve been taking better notes so it will be easier to go back and review what the writers had up their sleeves.