Posts Tagged With: Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is a chilling story of a very different America, sometime in the 21st century.  It is narrated by Offred, a ‘Handmaid’ – a woman who exists only for the purposes of procreation, and whose life beyond that purpose is worthless.

In the world in which the novel takes place, women are placed into categories, with no choice or education.  Offred’s tale is that of many other Handmaid’s – a woman who belongs to a wealthy childless couple, and who is expected to provide them with a child.  The details of exactly how America came to be like this are hazy, although the reader can surmise that it is probably through nuclear attack.

Offred recalls her life before this new society – the Gileadean Society – came into being.  A life that many readers would recognise – happily married with a daughter and a good job (when she did not realise how happy she actually was); and how, shortly after the inception of the Gileadeans, she was herded to a centre with other prospective Handmaid’s to be ‘trained’ for her new role in life.  She also describes her life with the family with whom she lives – the Commander (what he is a Commander of is never clarified) and his wife Serena Joy.


This was a fantastic book – extremely well written, and despite the initial absurdity of the premise, I soon found myself seeing how such events could unfold (indeed, many of the shocking events in the book have taken place in one form or another throughout history).

There is so much that is left unsaid in this book, and therefore a certain amount that a reader must assume.  Margaret Atwood’s writing is spare, but she has a wonderful way of placing you in the moment.  There is a sinister undertone to this story; a sense of apprehension about what might be about to come next.

Mainly this book made me feel relieved – relieved that this is not my life, and relieved that I could put the book down and leave the world which the narrator inhabited.  This does not mean that I did not enjoy reading it.  I would recommend this book very highly indeed.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Published: 2003

Summary (taken from blurb):
Pigs might not fly but they are strangely altered. So, for that matter, are wolves and racoons. A man, once called Jimmy, now calls himself Snowman and lives in a tree, wrapped in old bed sheets. The voice of Oryx, the woman he loved, teasingly haunts him. And the green-eyed Children of Crake are, for some reason, his responsibility.

A very enjoyable, yet disturbing, read that contains all the elements that earmark a terrific piece of dystopian literature. It brings to mind some of the greats (Huxley, Orwell) and is a credible take on a world in the near future in which science has gone too far. Any novel that makes you despair for the future of mankind has done a pretty good job, in my opinion.

The story begins with Snowman (aka Jimmy) who may be the last living person on earth (apart from the Crakers). The story jumps between past and present as Atwood slowly unveils the circumstances and events leading up to Jimmy’s current situation. Oryx and Crake are mythologised by the Crakers and revered as gods, but the reader is privy to their all-to-human faults.

Margaret Atwood has clearly done a lot of research for this novel, and it shows. Along with the knowledge of genetic engineering, she has done a terrific job of bringing her characters to life. The more I think about this book, the more I realise what an incredible job Atwood did with it. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10

Review by Kylie

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis (from the back of the book):

Zenia is beautiful, smart and greedy, by turns manipulative and vulnerable, needy and ruthless; a man’s dream and a woman’s nightmare. She is also dead. Just to make sure Tony, Roz and Charis are there for the funeral. But five years on, as the three women share an indulgent, sisterly lunch, the unthinkable happens; ‘with waves of ill will flowing out of her like cosmic radiation’, Zenia is back.

I think I’m missing something – by the accounts of other readers, Margaret Atwood is a great writer, but I just don’t see it. I read The Handmaid’s Tale and it was all right, but I didn’t feel it was anything particularly special. Now I’ve had the same trouble with The Robber Bride.

My main problem, I feel, was with the characters – Charis was insipid, Roz was bland, Tony was timid to the point of cringing, and her husband, West was so painfully fragile that he was hardly a man – certainly not man enough for Zenia who was the only character who shows any spirit. I couldn’t blame her for leaving him and despising Tony as they were both so naive I almost felt they deserved to be taken advantage of, if only to wake them up! There was only Zenia with whom I could get on-board, despite the fact that she was a liar and a cheat – at least she had balls!

It did get a little better as I progressed, but it still felt like a bit of a slog and the characters still seemed a bit wishy-washy right to the end. Throughout it all, the only one I had any respect for was Zenia who lied and cheated her way through her life – she was at least interesting and gutsy. It also seemed to just peter out at the end and didn’t really go anywhere – I couldn’t see what point Atwood was trying to make with this at all.

Still not convinced about Atwood really…

Reviewwed by kell Smurthwaite

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Blog at