This is my third time reading Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve been reading all of her novels (excluding the previously read books) for my Project Atwood Challenge, but I just couldn’t get rid of this one.
Leah from Books Speak Volumes and I were discussing the book recently, and decided to reread it together. Which was fun because we could chat about the book and both of us found symbolism or had interesting facts about different things from the book!
I’m finding it tough to write a review of this book, so here’s an edited version (spoilers taken out) of what I emailed to Leah:
First of all, I still love this book so much. Margaret Atwood does such a great job of slowly revealing the characters, their stories, and the dystopian society where they live. It’s amazing how she does it!
I didn’t remember not knowing for so long what the main character’s “job” is. It was about 25% of the way into the book before you found out about Offred’s main purpose as a Handmaid, what she actually has to do, even though you might be able to figure it out beforehand.
There is a lot of imagery that is used to convey sexuality, too. For instance, Serena Joy’s perfume was called Lily of the Valley, and the shop where the Handmaid’s dresses are purchased was called Lilies of the Field. I know that Chinese foot binding is a very sexual thing, with the goal of having “lily feet,” which are to only be seen and touched by their husbands. Also, flowers are all over the place in the beginning of the book, and even Offred says that they possess the reproductive parts of plants.
How sad I would be if I couldn’t read (like the Handmaids)!!! It kind of reminds me of how people didn’t want slaves reading, because knowledge is power.
As I was reading, I also kept thinking of good Quotable Friday quotes for Leah, one of her segments on her Books Speak Volumes blog. I think my favorite so far is this: “We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
To sum it up, The Handmaid’s Tale is even better the third time around. I now can appreciate the imagery without rushing through to understand the plot, and just take my time allowing the story to expand on its own.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is my favorite book of all time. Haven’t picked it up yet? It’s worth the read (or reread!).
What is your favorite book?