In a drastically altered future, Margaret Atwood writes of a society where the governing authorities have curbed all women rights and many of the less fortunate ones are forced to become handmaids to wealthy Commanders and officials. For Offred, life as she knew it, is a distant memory of times and opportunities lost. With no clue about the condition of her loved ones, she attempts little rebellious acts to remind her of what freedom used to be like. To not completely lose her sense of self and suppressed identity. However she must be a good handmaid, provide an offspring and try not to get executed for treachery. The Handmaid’s Tale is an empowering narration that switches between the flashbacks and the present; capturing the tribulations of life as declared by the Eyes – the power that decides all matters. Interactions of any kind are strictly discouraged, unless necessary; choice of clothing, position all pre-decided. That is the kind of world Offred lives in, wishing every second to be reconciled with her family.
Few pages into the book, I knew this would be an un-put-down-able one. And returning to where I stopped was an eager and welcome action. I did take it up for a research paper but soon it was something I wanted to read out of awe and its sheer brilliant content. Offred is a free spirited character who is quite the rebel. There’s an urge in her to defy the authorities and achieve what she wants, which I liked a lot. Set in a dystopian background, this book speaks volumes about how women are disregarded in the past and even now. The beacon of hope, that is the people who conspire, stand out and make the story all the more interesting. Because of the purpose of bringing in handmaids, the Wives in society are all portrayed as being indifferent and often inconsiderate women who try to boss around. One thing I’d like to mention without being too specific is that towards the end Offred finds herself a companion in the household – someone she spends “quality” time with. Even though the notion of friendship is sort of skewed, she manages to make quite a few associations who become her breakaway from reality. Overall, a lovely read.
Ratings – 4 stars on 5.