‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood: a narrative of horror


‘Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.’


Why should you read this book?

Everyone should read this book. And if you’re into dystopian novels, then this is definitely a must-read. Don’t wait any longer.

The novel is set in the Republic of Gilead in an indeterminate future.  In this book, Atwood built an extremely religious society where women have no freedom and are condemned to their only purpose: breeding. Offred, the protagonist, was taken away from her partner and daughter. Unlike a revolutionary character, she is cautious, frightened and sometimes even selfish. She is trying to survive and she will do whatever it takes to save herself.

The Handmaid’s Tale is considered to be a feminist book and I fully agree with that since the subjugation of women and misogyny dominate the plot. Besides gender, the Canadian writer also explored themes such as politics and religion. In terms of language, I must say this was my first Atwood which means I don’t have a holistic view of her style. But I can say that it took me a while to get used to her writing – mostly because I’m not an English native – and it can also be a bit slow. Despite being slow paced, it is very intense. And the ending was a surprise as well.

I wish I could say this felt like a rather distant scenario, but unfortunately it didn’t. Why can’t we learn from history and from literature? Having said that, I think this is a narrative of horror and terror, warning us and reminding us of what we can cause to ourselves.

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Book Details:

English Edition:
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Published on: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Price: £14.99

Edição Portuguesa:
Título: A História de uma Serva
Editora: Bertrand Editora
Data de Publicação: Agosto de 2013
Formato: Capa mole
Páginas: 352
Preço: 18,80€

4 stars


dystopian literature margaret atwood the handmaid's tale

4 thoughts on “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood: a narrative of horror

  1. Quero muito ler este livro e gostava de o ler em Inglês, mas já ouvi muita gente dizer que a escrita da Atwood não é nada fácil. Falo e percebo inglês, mas tenho medo de não perceber muito bem a história. O que me aconselhas, ler em inglês ou português?

    Beijinhos, Ensaio Sobre o Desassossego


    1. Olá 🙂 olha, eu li em inglês. Não foi fácil. Depende do teu nível, na verdade. Não parava de ir ao dicionário e tinha de reler determinadas partes do livro… mas não me arrependi de ter lido o livro em inglês. Se quiseres uma leitura mais fluída, escolhe em português. A linguagem dela não é muito acessível. Mas se queres um desafio e se queres melhorar até o teu nível, inglês. Vais perceber a obra 🙂 só dará trabalho…


      1. Obrigada! O meu medo é mais “gastar” dinheiro e depois o livro ficar na prateleira a ganhar pó só porque eu não percebo metade das frases…


      2. Pois, eu entendo. Então, se não quiseres arriscar, o melhor é leres em português 🙂


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