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The Bibliophiliac’s Corner – “The Handmaid’s Tale”


By Amanda Merriman

Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books. It has been this way nearly all her life. Every month she shares what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in the obsession too.

This month, my neighborhood book club chose Margaret Atwood’s thought-provoking novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” to discuss. I read this novel years ago but was excited to experience it all over again. This story has withstood the test of time. Originally, it was published in 1986, but it remains a must read for younger generations. Recently, as readers may be aware, it was adapted into a highly acclaimed TV series for the on-demand video subscription service, Hulu.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a tantalizing combination of genres, such as dystopian, feminist and cautionary/speculative fiction. The story reads like a journal written by a woman living in the totalitarian state of Gilead, formerly known as the United States. Gilead staged a brutal takeover of the country, assassinating all the top members of the government. In an intersection of religion and politics, Gilead stripped away the rights of women to address the issue of falling birth rates due to a polluted environment. Fertile women are forced into becoming concubines for high-ranking officials. These women are given new names that connect them to the men who own them. Infertile women or others who do not fit into the ideology of Gilead are shipped away, never to be heard from again.

The novel’s main character, Offred (“of Fred”) takes us through her journey and switches between her past and present. The way in which the people of Gilead become disenfranchised is startling, insidious and altogether believable. I enjoyed Offred’s character. She is an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances just trying to emotionally and physically survive. Offred is not a perfect protagonist, but this makes her more relatable. As the story builds, readers won’t be able to put this book down. The novel’s open ending leaves some unanswered questions. But try not to be discouraged. Think of it as a way to extend your enjoyment as you process this tale.

Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, feel free to join in the dialogue. Blog your thoughts and feedback at www.castlepinesconnection.com and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar. Have you read a great book recently? Email your find to me at amerriman@castlepinesconnection.com.

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