Hello my Firehouse friends. You've been getting an extra dose of blogging this week. How lucky you are!
I come to you today with a tale, a Handmaid's tale to be precise. Well, sort of. Let me give you a little background info.
As you know, or should know, World Book Night was Tuesday. I'm sad to say, due to snow...again, I didn't get out to distribute my books. But! This Saturday I will be hanging out in Old Town to give away my books on what promises to be a warm and sunny day. Anyway, as a sort of 'thank you' to authors and publishers, the staff members of stores participating in WBN were asked to pick and read one of the books being given away for WBN. The idea behind this was the staff would then be familiar with the author and be better prepared to sell his or her books.
The book we picked was Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale." I had never read any Atwood before I was told to read "The Handmaid's Tale" but I am now looking forward to picking up another Atwood book when I have the chance.
Alright, what follows is my attempt to give a brief review of the book. There is quite a lot that can be said. I'll try and pick the best things.
"The Handmaid's Tale" takes place in a futuristic dystopia. It tells the story of Offred, a Handmaid living in the Republic of Gilead. She and the other Handmaid's are valued only for their viable ovaries. The life she knew with her husband, Luke, is gone and now all she has to look forward to is her daily walk to the food market, and every month she must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant. Her job, her money and her access to knowledge is gone.
I don't know about you all, but that sounds like a really *insert curse word here* life. Also, I decided about 10 seconds ago that I'm going to forget making this review sound semi-professional and just spit some words at you in a coherent manner. Let's go!
If you really wanted to boil "The Handmaid's Tale" (here after abbreviated as THT) down to one issue, the obvious choice would be women's rights. And you wouldn't really be wrong to do this. Women have been stripped of their freedom. They are not allowed to read, some are only used for their reproductive abilites, others are no more than servents and very few have any kind of power, and those who do only have such power because of the men they are associated with.
It all sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? But it is so much more than what it seems. Offred was unfortunate enough to find herself a victim of a society that let fear govern them. In trying to protect themselves, they snuffed out life, they stripped away freedom, not just from women but from men as well. And, as in most societies built on rigid rules, those rules are often broken.
It is hard to talk about THT without going on and on and picking it apart.The best review I can give you is to just read it yourself. It is not only relevant to women's issues we are discussing today but it also makes you think about how our own society functions and the part we as citizens play in its shaping and growth. Oh, and be sure to read the Historical Notes. They will blow your mind.
Okay, that last paragraph was a bit of a cop-out, but seriously, it is a good book and you should read it. In the end, readers make meaning out of a text, not authors.
Pick up a copy of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" at Old Firehouse Books. Do it!