Reading this book also accomplished one of my goals this year as well: Two books need to be re-reads (The Stand is the other re-read).
So let's delve into Atwood's picture:
In the Republic of Gilead, Offred is a Handmaid. She lives, now, in a world where women are no longer allowed to read, where they are used for breeding only, if they have viable ovaries. Before this world, Offred (not her true name) had a husband, a job, a child. She had a life. The Congress and the President were slaughtered, the Constitution was suspended and women suddenly lost all of their rights everywhere. Childbirth had been on a decline so children are a valuable commodity. Offred's child is stolen and given to a high-ranking couple. Her husband is killed or captured and Offred is forced to become a Handmaid.
Each Handmaid takes a new name with each house they are forced to live in. Fred is the Commander who she is given to so she becomes Offred. Each month, there is a Ceremony where the Commander tries to impregnate Offred. If she fails to become pregnant, she is moved to another house, gets a new name and starts the same process over.
This world is horrifying. The novel is told by Offred and the manuscript was found without any resolution. We have no idea how it ended and whether she is safe. I recall taking a long time to read this book the first time and this time was no exception. The world we are asked to enter is a terrible one that makes me incredibly angry - so kudos to Atwood for igniting emotions!
This book is on the 1,001 Books To Read Before You Die list and I fully encourage you to read it.
In the meantime,
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”