Tuesday, January 11, 2011
by Margaret Atwood
completed December 2010
The Handmaid's Tale is a difficult book to summarize without giving too much away. It is a dystopian novel that deals mostly with the treatment of women in the newly formed Republic of Gilead. This was my first novel by Margaret Atwood. I have seen so many wonderful reviews of her books. My expectations were high and that might have been the reason it fell short for me. I hate to admit that I didn't love this book. Yet again, a book that most everyone loves--except for me.
I'll start out with what I liked. The premise of the story was different than anything I had read before. As I read, it reminded me of how seemingly harmless ideas, when taken to extremes, can lead to something horrific. In this instance, the Republic took precautions to protect women and in turn, ended up taking everything from them, including their free will. I think the book does well at showing the complacency that eventually settles when freedom is lost. My favorite characters were those who were willing to take risks and fight the system.
Now to the things that I didn't like. Much has been said in praise of Atwood's writing style, but it didn't suit my personal taste. I thought it was dry and a bit pretentious at times, especially for a first-person narration. There are frequent flashbacks thrown in that, to me, broke the flow of the narrative. It took me 200 pages to get into this book. Not a good sign. The pace picked up in the last third of the book. The ending was ambiguous, which I didn't mind, but the epilogue was pointless. I will admit that I skimmed it. I don't think she needed to explain how we got this first-person account, and the way she did it was really lame.
Even though there were parts that I disliked, I'm glad that I read The Handmaid's Tale. The themes of the book are relevant, but I didn't love the execution. I really want to give Margaret Atwood another shot. Any recommendations?
Posted by Kristi at 8:00 PM