The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Book Summary

Before The Testaments, there was The Handmaid’s Tale: an instant classic and eerily prescient cultural phenomenon, from “the patron saint of feminist dystopian fiction” (New York Times).

The Handmaid’s Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid’s Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.

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The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood) Book Reviews

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- wow5 star

this book is amazing !! i have been having trouble finding books that i can’t put down, and this definitely cured me of that. i read it in about 3 days, it is so beautiful. the characters are strong and this book has amazing feminist themes. i would totally recommend this⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

- The Handmaids Tale is scary! Too close to home!5 star

In today’s misogynistic political climate, this book hits WAY too close to home. It is frightening how society crushes women so quickly and turns them into property. Even though it is fiction, it could too easily become fact.

- Don’t waste your time1 star

The book was interesting enough until half way through I realized that there wasn’t any real conflict or overall stakes. Our character wasn’t trying to escape or scheming to get more information from the ppl around her. She wasn’t DOING anything, and everything was just happening TO her. She’s a very passive character who doesn’t grow or develop much at all. Which is very disappointing considering the social commentary the book is trying to make. I’ve read better books on dystopian futures with more compelling characters so don’t even bother with this one

- Excellent But5 star

Would have liked more info on what happened in Gilead

- LOVE IT5 star

I love this book along with Alias Grace!

- A good read.4 star

I was very happy with this book. At first, it struggled to keep my interest, but as I kept reading I found myself obsessively turning the pages—which hasn’t happened in a long time. As a woman, this book was very powerful, and opened up a lot of different thoughts. I would recommend this book, and I am looking forward to watching the movie/series adaptation.

- The Handmaid’s Tale- A good read4 star

This book was an easy read as it kept my interest throughout. As a fan of the Hulu series of the same name, I must say their is much that happens in the series that does not happen in the book. For instance, many characters, such as Nick, Luke, Moira and Janine, are overly-glamorized and play larger roles in the series. We often see episodes focusing on these characters points of view whereas the book revolves around the one central character, Offred, and the story is told from strictly her perspective. Many quotes from Offred in the series come from within the book’s pages. The story does leave some loose ends untied and leaves the reader with the option to interpret the ending in different ways. All in all a great read!

- Review of the Handmaids Tale5 star

This is an amazing dystopian book, that truly showcases in gruesome detail what happens when the majority are the oppressed. It shows that no matter the conditions people still try their best to hold on to hope and to persevere.

- yes5 star


- the ending5 star

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- The Handmaids Tale Again4 star

I read Atwood’s book when it was originally published. Hearing that a sequel was now being written had caused me to re-read this suspenseful novel. I like the authors reimagining what life could be like so far in the future. It was believable and related well to current events. I am so looking forward to the sequel as it is long overdue. More “historical” background would have been helpful in understanding the regime. There weren’t quite enough political and cultural details to rate this novel a five and yet; a compelling story!

- I really wanted to like this book2 star

I love the message, I don’t think it’s some sort of “feminist propaganda” (eyeroll) but I couldn’t get over the writing. The metaphors and similes seemed overdone, to the point where she’d be describing a staircase and by the end of the sentence I had to reread it to remember what she was talking about in the first place. I can get over a few examples of that, but it seemed like the entire book was one long sentence with too many commas and muddy comparisons. It reminded me of trying to fill a word count for a school assignment.

- Future #MeToo?5 star

Eerily voyeuristic 1980’s sci-fi masterpiece that reflects incredible insight into our society today in 2018, especially the male chauvinistic, white supremacist political precipice from which we hang in terror, right now...

- Feminist propaganda1 star

It's amazing that I even need to point this out. And now it's being pushed to an extreme extent in the series. This is creating a war between men and women that is extremely dangerous. Third wave feminism is a cancer to society. Pleas do not support these dangerous ideas with a purchase.

- Great story but confused4 star

I enjoyed the story overall but I’m confused about the ending

- Terribly Disappointing2 star

After all the hype over the TV show, which I waited to watch until finishing the book, I was so expectant when I purchased this book. However, if turned out to be my most disappointing read of 2018. I muddled through, thinking the pace HAD to pick up and the storyline MUST move along eventually. Finally, it did start to get just a bit interesting... and then it ended. Just like that. No resolution or feeling of, “Wow. That was with my time to read.” It was just over, mid-climax build. I rarely advocate watching the show/film when the book is available, but this time I advise you to save your time. Those are monotonous hours I can’t get back. Most of the book’s action can be watched on Episode 1 of Season 1 of the series.

- Well written5 star

Read it after watching the Hulu series. Enjoyed it.

- The Handmaiden’s Tale1 star

Terrible book! I remember Slavery...

- Loved it5 star

Have never gotten so absolutely captivated by a novel before! I did not choose to make any connections to feminism or our current political environment, which I believe is one of the reasons I was able to love the book for what it is. Couldn't recommend it more!

- Handmaids Tale5 star


- Dissapointed?3 star

I wanted to love it, but I’m somewhere in between linking it and hating it. Not what I expected

- Movie is better3 star

I found this book lacking description. It’s very very depressing. I found movie is much better

- Lives up to the hype5 star

I haven’t seen the show, but I decided to read the book based on the show’s popularity. It truly lived up to my expectations. Dark, and impossible to put down. I read it in a day and a half because I was pulling it out at every spare moment.

- The Handmaid’s Tale3 star

Ms. Atwood created a story that is extraordinary. The HULU series is captivating. I hope the producers expand on this book to continue the series for a few more years.

- A handmaid’s tale4 star

Worth the read. Reminiscent of “1984”.

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- A glorious read5 star

It’s been a very long time since I enjoyed a book this much. I didn’t want it to end.

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- The Handmaids Tale2 star

Not sure what to say about this book. Is this what life will be like in later years? If so I am glad to have lived my life now as I would be very unhappy to live the way those characters did.

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- Captivating horror4 star

The writing style is excellent, the story line kept me captivated. It was hard to put this book down. The ending was confusing and somewhat contrived. So we were left hanging in mid-air and to our own conclusion. Weird!

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- Interesting5 star

Drew me in deeper and deeper. I wanted to know more. I was hoping for a better ending, but it did leave you guessing.

- The Handmaiden’s Tale3 star

Interesting premise, but the prose is repetitive, approaching boring, at times.

- The Handmaid’s Tale4 star

I hated the book early on but it did grow on me over time. It took quite a while before one has a general understanding of what it’s about. It did become quite interesting once there seemed to be some interaction between the characters.

- Handmade’s Tale5 star

WOW!!! This tale is emotionally charged!!! I simply could not put it down. I’m going to see the movie about this tale but I already know that I will be disappointed. I believe that Margaret Atwood designed this tale with the greatest attention to details to the Handmade’s tale that no one will be able to come close to her painstaking look into her characters of which she wrote! Thank you so much!!!!

- Misleading ; terrible ending2 star

The writer jumps All over the place making it sometimes hard to follow. The writing seemed to drag on with glimpses into her past life but never the full story. And then it ends with a cliff hanger . I wouldn’t read it again

- Surprisingly captivating5 star

I read this over a weekend. Hard to put down. Great story writing.

- Boring and strange1 star

I'm not sure why this book has such high ratings. It’s hard to follow, boring and strange. So bad that I would not have finished it, but I was reading it with a book club. Very disappointing.

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- So, so good.5 star

What took me so long? This is one of those books where you’re super bummed when you finish it. I had anxiety all the way through, like when I read 1984 for the first time. Beautiful writing, interesting events, great detail. It could’ve been 200 pages longer.

- What ending?3 star

This is unfortunately a similar reality for many women in some countries. Meaning zero freedoms and no rights. Scary to think it could happen here. Does make you think, but i was hoping for a good story with an actual ending.

- Unfortunate5 star

Although the story was interesting there were too many unknowns and unanswered questions. I am just as confused at the end as I was at the beginning. I want to believe she made it and had her child to start anew.

- Cowabunga!5 star

Theocracy in the flesh, scary.

- The Handmaid’s Tale5 star

Beautiful writing, haunting tale. This is one of those books that will stay with me. I will read it more than once, it resonates. Cautionary and so timelessly relevant. Character development crept up on you. Such a guarded (literally) group and yet these were “real” people. I was invested. So much covered in this little book, family, life, love, religion, politics, women’s rights, human rights and some of the best and mostly worst of our human nature. This is my new “Farenheit 451”. I recommend it for everyone. Thank you for writing & sharing 🙏🏼

- Masterful5 star

Incredibly well written but disturbingly prophetic. Masterful!

- Disturbing1 star

Disturbing content that seemed too close to reality in our current political climate. Felt incomplete.

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- Cauceh5 star


- Pam T.4 star

Suspenseful and exciting story. It left you wanting more.

- Goes Nowhere1 star

It was as if the author got tired of writing and just ended it. No resolution. Very disappointing. Story was fine but the way it ended was lazy and without imagination.

- Alarming, imaginative and timely.5 star

The Handmaiden’s Tale is as engrossing as it is frightening. I can’t, however, say it did any good for my overall mental health. But it is a worthwhile read if you can manage your anxiety in the last gasp of the Christian Right known as the Trump era.

- The Handmaid’s Tale5 star

Chilling look at the future through the future-past-now. Help us all. Is this even possible? Stark. Hope this Wall never gets built. Prescient fake news!

- Crap1 star

Do not read. Disgusting and vile!

- Recommend, recommend, recommend!!!5 star

This novel has it all: Love, hate, lust, greed, and chaos. Margaret gives us a vision of a world that could very much be our future. It’s all too realistic concepts touch base close to home. You won’t be disappointed in this read. It’s absolutely one of my favorites!!!!

- The Handmaid’s Tale4 star

Horrible waste of time!

- EhAshleyimbert5 star

Extremely captivating

- Brilliantly Written5 star

I really enjoyed this book and the series.

- Needed more...4 star

This was the scariest book I ever read because it fits the rise of the "evangelical" base in our last two and a half decades of politics. The constant attics on women's rights and the belief that subservience is biblically ratified. The end was wrapped up too quickly. Needed more.

- Life changing5 star

I just love this book.

- Very Nice4 star

A well written Novel.

- Moving5 star

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It was enthralling, even though it took me awhile to get acclimated to what was happening. But it made me so sad & a little mad, afraid. It reads like a cautionary tale, a warning; be wary of extremists. The end caught me by surprise- I was expecting more of the story. I would definitely recommend this book, it's well-written & you definitely can connect with the main characters. But it's not a 'light' book or fun book; it's a deep book, a moving book. Enjoy!

- A Must Read5 star

Especially in our current political climate, this book opens eyes to a dystopian world that could quite easily become our own reality. Don't miss out on this extraordinary book.

- Hard to follow2 star

I did finish this book and parts were interesting. It was choppy and difficult to follow.

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- Truly frightening5 star

A truly great masterpiece. A literary work of genius. Like George Orwell's "1984", Atwood is a true visionary--to foresee a takeover by Islamic forces that would strip women of all their rights by virtue of the ultra right wing conservative beliefs that women are worth nothing more than being baby factories is haunting in this day and age of a Trump presidency and a conservative court shutting off women's access to health care, birth control and abortion left and right. What's truly frightening about this book is the possibility that it COULD conceivably happen. The parallels to Nazi Germany are frightening- dehumanization by virtue of turning people against one another through fear and rewards. Watching the series on Hulu now but I strongly recommend you read the book first. It's so much better. I can't wait to read other work now by Ms. Atwood!!!

- Ought can2 star


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- F3 star


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- We5 star

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- C4 star

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- Doesn't End2 star

You keep reading this book and think it's about to go somewhere and climax and then when it finally does it ends and you have no idea what really happened. I would not recommend this book.

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- A chore to read1 star

What an absolute snore! This book was simply awful. I want my money, AND time back! The story dragged on, the ending was total crap, the whole thing was terrible. People want to say it's "important", it's awful.

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- The HandmaidsTale5 star

Awesome read! You will fly though it! You must wonder if this super conservative government of the present foreshadows our future?

- Slow pace and disappointing2 star

I felt that it took too long for the book to cover the exposition of the story. I wish that Margaret had spent more time detailing the handmaid's relationships and how she was working through the issues of her position. Rarely did we see the handmaiden pursue ideas on her own accord. The ending leaves too much up to interpretation; it almost felt like a couple of chapters were missing.

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- Happening now!4 star

If you don't make the correlation between the happenings in this book and what is occurring in ISIS-controlled territory right now, you're blind. Their theocracy had literally taken this book as their "playbook," using "commanders," old book punishments, controlling women, etc., all in the name of their religion. Take it as a cautionary tale or as just plain fiction, but it's worth the read.

- H5 star

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- Stop comparing to current America2 star

While this book is fascinating and very well written, I'm sick and tired of everyone comparing to our current "American" political situation. Maybe some of you should travel to certain places in the Middle East where women are very much treated as property. Where they have no rights. As a young millennial woman I personally feel that we are treated with more respect than MANY places throughout the world. I've traveled to some of those places. I've seen how women are treated. Who's going to give THEM a voice and stop constantly complaining about how bad we have it here?

- Meh...2 star

I was not impressed. Didn't make me want to watch the series AND it ended horribly.

- excellent5 star

frighteningly relevant.

- Blew my mind5 star

Atwood takes me to places within myself that I never knew existed. I'm more familiar with her poetry, this is actually the first time I am reading one of her books and I have no idea why I wasn't reading this in high school. The book is like one a long poem, her style of writing is so eloquent. I think she rivals Virginia Woolf.

- You will feel unfulfilled.2 star

The narrator grabs you, tells you some of her story and then disappears. The ending is horrible. I feel like I wasted my time.

- Page turner but..3 star

I give three stars only because I very much dislike and choose not to read books with such endings. If I would have know the ending was such as this, I would not have purchased the book.

- Not a happy ending2 star

This isn't a feel good story. I kept reading this book thinking that the heroine would finally be a hero or get her life back or fall in love but no. That doesn't happen at all. I guess don't spend $11 on a story that you think is going to be like the Hulu show and then get totally disappointed like I did.

- Alright but...3 star

The Handmaid's Tale was alright but not as good as all the hype would lead you to believe. I enjoyed the concept of the book and the general story line, but if found the writing style to be confusing and tiresome at times. It's short and a pretty quick read. To me it seems like the story and the characters weren't fully developed. In other books, I have really liked the jumping back and forth between timeframes as they very conducive to the story and clearly delineated. In this book, however, I found them very confusing. I think this book would have been better served to be linear instead of jumping. I don't know if I think this is the case because of this particular story or because of the writing style. Maybe both. I didn't hate this but I wouldn't recommend either.

- Pandering Feminist Propaganda1 star

Poorly written, loosely developed, plotless. This book seemed to be a bunch of half written feminist fables bound together with no ending or consistent tethering, other than "fear men they may or may not manipulate society and themselves in to oppressing or empowering you". Pointless, convoluted rambling. If you find this book enlightened as a woman the most laughable part is you, yourself are at the for front of the theoretical "magazine burning" the author uses as weak attempt to warn how women could be easily over come almost immediately with little to no fight. Safe yourself the time and energy. Read something else.

- A Timely Tale4 star

This work should be required reading in any women's studies program. It is a gripping tale. The author's transitions between the three story lines is sometimes difficult to recognize. I am frightened by this story which like Robert Heinlein's future history series is much too timely.

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The Handmaid’s Tale : pourquoi la saison 4 se fait attendre

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@letiacunha I do know that I am, but have you seen June from The Handmaid's Tale?

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This is a money &power thing happening to WARREN. My Question is Ladies, are you buying this bullshit? You have the…

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34% done with The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood

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@HansNijenhuis: Voor de liefhebbers van The Handmaid’s Tale niet zo’n heel geruststellende naam:

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@onthebey: #ImpeachmentDeBolsonaro #ImpeachmentBolsonaro Só vou deixar essa foto de The Handmaid's Tale aqui, interpretem como quiser.…

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood . #Books #Classic

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@55f4b319f1df479: อย่าลืมว่าการเพิกเฉยนี่แหละที่คอยให้ท้ายให้สังคมเลวร้ายขึ้นทุกที ในThe handmaid's taleเองทุกอย่างไม่ได้เริ่มจากผู้มีอำ…

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@AlexisaFurr I think I read Like Water for Chocolate in 5th grade? And the Handmaid’s Tale in 6th. I also read Sher…

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The Handmaid’s Tale : pourquoi la saison 4 se fait attendre...

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@onthebey: #ImpeachmentDeBolsonaro #ImpeachmentBolsonaro Só vou deixar essa foto de The Handmaid's Tale aqui, interpretem como quiser.…

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The Handmaid’s Tale : pourquoi la saison 4 se fait attendre

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The Handmaid’s Tale : pourquoi la saison 4 se fait attendre

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