As a Canadian, I felt it was about damn time I read this classic novel by Margaret Atwood. I’d attempted it a few times before and couldn’t get into it. But after persevering just a little bit more, I finally managed to find the time and was suddenly deep inside this weird and creepy world that she has created.
Is this dystopian? Or sci-fi? Definitely speculative fiction. It centers around a society where women are slotted into several categories: Wives, sex-trade workers, Marthas (basically the help), Aunts (kind of like head nuns), and the Handmaids. There are probably a few that I have missed, but those were the ones that I remember. The Handmaids’ duties are simple: they are birthing vessels for women who are too old to have their own children. It’s their duty to have sex with the husband of the Wife and to try to get pregnant.
There is so much more to this story than just that, but that is at the core of the plot, which I found truly fascinating and remarkably creative. There are layers of meaning and symbolism behind it all, from feminism to religion to patriarchy. It was also an exciting read, as you wonder what is going to happen to our main character. It’s also a very literary book, beautifully written, and no wonder it made Atwood a household name.
I included this in the LGBTQ/Lesbian category because there is one female character in the book who identifies as being attracted to women.
Other books by Margaret Atwood I have read or want to read: The Edible Woman, Alias Grace, The Robber Bride.