The series of The Handmaid’s Tale has recently been on the TV. I heard great things about it so decided to follow the hype and watch. It was hard going; not because it didn’t live up to the expectations but it felt so real and believable in the political climate of today. The plot deals with so many issues including fertility, environment disaster, rape and extreme religion that are consistently talked about on the news. It is violent in places so it is not one to watch or read if any of those are triggers for negative mental health. The imagery of the women dressed in red or blue depending on their status is powerful. Intrigued and caught in the plot it was only natural I needed to read the book. After all, books always win in the book vs film debate.
The waiting list at the library was mind-bendingly long so there was a wait between the “I need to read this” thought and holding the copy in my hand. The cover showing the TV character Offred was striking and more appealing than previous covers I have seen that made me walk by when they were on the shelves of bookshops.
I admit I am not a reader of classics even modern ones so I was concerned I would struggle with it but I didn’t have to worry. I enjoyed it. I can not get my head round the age of the book, 21 years, because it feels so relevant. The TV imagery helped me visualise some scenes and I felt the programme complements the book well. At the beginning if I had not seen an episode of it, I may have got distracted by other books I needed to read for book clubs but once I was into the world of Gilead I had to binge read to the end.
It follows the story of Offred a Handmaid to the Waterford’s. In a world where an extreme religious group has overthrown the US government changing the social dynamics of America and fertility has dropped dramatically, children are seen as a rare commodity and a women’s place is firmly in the home her only purpose is to breed.
The story sent shivers down my spine; there were moments I wanted to put the book down because I did not want to know what happened next. It is a rich, emotional, clever and powerful read. I can understand why it is studied at school in English Lit courses and I wish I had the opportunity to read it then instead of An Inspector Calls.
It will take a while for my mind to stop thinking about Offred’s reality.
Comment below if you have read/watched it, did you enjoy it too?