Books to give you hope? The Handmaid’s Tale

 

I love this cover and what it says about the plight of women in general as well as the narrator, Offred, in the novel's society of Gilead ...
I love this cover and what it says about the plight of women in general as well as the narrator, Offred, in the novel’s society of Gilead …

The Guardian are currently running a series of articles on ‘books to give you hope’ and the inclusion of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale caught my eye.  Whilst it’s a favourite book, it’s not one I would necessarily have classified as hopeful …

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.”

I like my dystopian visions pretty … well, pretty dystopian.  Happy endings belong elsewhere, and books where a single plucky individual overthrows the whole system are NOT my thing – I’m looking at YOU, The Hunger Games!  Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is powerful as a warning precisely because however much the characters try to bend and break the rules, there is no hope, ultimately.  I found it refreshing, when I first read it, to find things so unsparingly grim – a little like the Lemony Snicket books!

And yet, the article has made me think about Atwood’s novel again, and reconsider hope.  Perhaps it is what allows these characters – and Orwell’s Winston and Julia – to keep pushing the boundaries: a broader rather than purely selfish hope, that they are paving the way for something to change in society?

You can read the full Guardian article by clicking here

2 Comments on “Books to give you hope? The Handmaid’s Tale

    • It is excellent. It is scary, and sad, and occasionally, funny. You get to know the main character pretty well, and empathise with her. Check in with someone at home if you are going to read it, as there are some scenes of a sexual nature.

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