Bookclub, Books, Reading

Tale of a Handmaid: June’s Book Club Review

Photo courtesy of Bumbershoot Photography.

The tale of book club continues. Yet another meeting has come and gone. This month the Tea Hags group read “A Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. It’s latest tv adaptation has gained some furor, and we were curious.There certainly was a lot to discuss! So without further ado, please welcome my two  guest reviewers Charlotte and Eowyn!

Charlotte’s Tale

One of the aspects of book club that I appreciate the most is that it does not allow me to become a complacent reader. I do enjoy a wide variety of books but often I do find myself reading in my usual genres and not challenging myself. Every month one of our members picks the book and offers their home and culinary abilities for the group. The pick for this month was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Handmaid’s tale has been on my reading radar for many years. The novel is dystopian and deals with issues such as gender, reproductive rights, freedom of speech and knowledge and feminism. It is written by a Canadian author who is celebrated nationally. And I do have a soft spot for sombre stories told through the eyes of complex characters. So why have I been avoiding it?

Several reasons come to mind. Firstly, if a novel gains a lot of popularity in main stream society I dismiss it. (I know, book snob) Secondly the topic seemed to be strongly aimed towards feminism and lastly Atwood’s personality can seem a bit off putting at times. Luckily for me Anne picked it otherwise I would not have read this book.

The Handmaid’s Tale is written in such a way that made it compelling to read front to back. Atwood’s “voice” was so interesting that she can describe the mundane such as gymnasium smells and it was engaging. I thought that the story is one that is just as pertinent today as it was in the 1980’s when it first was written. Though it does have a strong message about female rights I believe the stronger message presented is one on the danger of being complacent. How easy is it to lose your rights and freedoms? What creates your identity and how can someone take that away? Those are questions that struck me while reading the novel.

I believe it is important as a reader to push outside of your comfort zone and read something that challenges your mind. Great pick this month Anne.

Eowyn’s Tale

I was asked to write a review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for our book club. But I started thinking how can I write a book review when I read it 11 years ago and never finished reading it? I had a very bad experience with the book. I had to read it for my first college English class, I was right out of high school and had very little- if any- real life experiences.

I think back to all the reasons why I didn’t finish reading it. The main reason at the time was is that I had this professor that told us we “had to like this book”. We had no choice in the matter. We had to write this essay on how it changed our lives and how this story will mold us into better people because of it. She was very much a person that did not even like people  holding the door for her when she was holding a lot in her hands.

Another reason I did not finish the book is that I did not understand what the book was really about. And my copy of the book really threw me off. The cover had the face of a woman that had her mouth sewn shut. When you are a sheltered 18 year old, it was very disturbing to see that. Sometimes the old adage of “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is not true. I thought the whole book was about sex, rape, and adultery. The reading just made me uncomfortable, and threw me off the book even more.

At 18 I didn’t understand the why. Why she chose to save her daughter, and why she chose to become a handmaid. I had no experience to work off of. I was raised that having sexual experiences with another while married is wrong. So to me that was off putting. I was reading a book that I thought was all about adultery and mainstreaming it.

Now 30 years old, I’m married and trying to have children. Having fertility problems I now understand the side of  Serena and Commander Fred. Having trouble to have children is not an easy thing to go through. You feel broken and that everything is your fault. Every late period you get really excited, but then when your period happens you feel devastated and that there is point of trying. You feel broken and that the reason why you are having trouble is your fault. There are times when I would be willing to do anything to get pregnant. It is a very emotional rollercoaster. I do not think it would have been an easy decision for a society to invite others to become surrogates.

Because I have not finished the book there is very little I can review. But I can write on the perspective that I was not ready. Now I have the life experience necessary to understand why they may have chosen this lifestyle. Even though I had a bad experience with this book, I might be old enough and have enough life experience to give this book a chance and I just may.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Is the tv version all it’s hyped up to be? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Until next time,

~K

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