The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is destined to become a classic read, if it's not already. And, embarrassingly, I just now read it for the first time. Yes, the book came out in 1986 and I had never read it. I read it now at the urging of my daughter-in-law. Great recommendation!
So, if there are any readers out there who haven't read The Handmaid's Tale, I found it to be a frightening cautionary tale at this time in our lives. If I had read it in 1986, I probably wouldn't have cared for it as much. I found it fascinating!
In the novel the United States had been taken over and sent back to a time when women were primarily only good for "using". There were different levels of women: the handmaid's, the wives, the aunts, the Martha's, etc. The handmaid's purpose was to become pregnant by her "Commander" (ie. owner). Offred (of Fred-her Commander's name) was the handmaiden telling this story. She remembered the times when she had been married to Luke and they had a young daughter. She worked and life was as we know it now. Then the government was taken over and life changed. She, Luke and their daughter were separated from each other. Women were not allowed to read, there was no television or movies. Even the stores had pictures, not words, because one was not allowed to read anything.
The whole story was horrifying, yet the goodness of Offred came through. As did the power of women. There really wasn't anything hopeful about the book, but in the end, the reader is left hoping that Offred escapes.
I have to add, I (thankfully) always read introductions, author's notes, etc. in books. At the end of this book is a section called "Historical Notes". My intent was to just skim over it and as I did, I realized that it was part of the novel! So glad that I realized that! It really made the book for me!
I hope that this has not put anyone off from reading the book, because it is well worth the read. It is short and easy to read, and wonderful writing.