The Handmaid’s Tale – Book Review | Emily K

Hello once again my lovelies, I hope you’re all having a beautiful day! I’m still in Cornwall, and I’m really enjoying being by the sea everyday! ❤

Today I’m back with another book review, which I’m super excited about (before I edited this my first four sentences all ended with an exclamation mark…if that’s not showing my excitement I don’t know how else to convince you – omd I’m so lame *rolls eyes* – I told you, I’m SO bad at intros!! )

TITLE: The Handmaid’s Tale
AUTHOR: Margaret Atwood
GENRE: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction

Goodreads Book Description:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are visible. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

My Thoughts:

This book was beautiful. It was filled with disgust and shame in a broken world, but it was beautiful. So beautiful were Atwood’s words that told this story – a story of a prejudiced world, full of danger, where women were viewed as property, their sole purpose for life being their reproductive organs. I came away feeling enlightened, satisfied, and a connection with Offred that empowered me, so much so that this story won’t quickly leave my heart (also the fact that I’m studying it for the next two years at A-Level, but hey 😉 )


What I loved about this story was how Atwood’s writing implied the darkness of the society, while holding back a lot of meaningless information. A review on Goodreads criticises this, saying she does it to show the power she holds over the reader. I totally disagree with this. She does it to make everything more powerful. This crazy, erratic society was made believable by her writing – she revealed things with caution, allowing us to understand the world in which men ruled.

I wasn’t sure about the absence of speech marks. It was difficult to distinguish between a character’s speech and Offred’s thoughts, and once or twice I found myself confused. However, I also thought this added to the confusion that the women feel in this society, and their vulnerability that things aren’t in their control – their desire for the old, normal way in which society was run. So in some ways, it helped me relate to the way they felt.


I fell in love with Offred, the protagonist, almost immediately. Her view of such an upside-down world opened my eyes to so much. She tried to conform to expectations, but there was also a sense of rebellion which I got from her – her initial attempt to escape with Luke, her chats with Moira through the toilet cubicle, her meetings with the Commander, her deal with the Commander’s Wife, her visits to Nick…It was subtle, in my opinion, but nevertheless it was underlying theme which made me fall in love with her harder.

The other characters all had that extra dimension to them that made them feel real, and I didn’t find myself, as I often do, getting annoyed at any in particular. They all had a purpose which they served well. I did like the Commander’s requests to Offred and their late-night meetings, which again showed rebellion – in a tightly controlled environment, even those supposedly superior have a desire to rebel. It could be argued that it’s human nature.

To Sum It Up:

This book has definitely impacted my life, and that’s not something I say often. In fact, while writing this, my rating went up from a 4 to a 5, because I could barely find any faults with it, and I DID love it, so I had no reason to rate it lower. It’s made me more of a feminist (which is not a bad thing), and opened my eyes to so much more. I’ve read a few of the reviews on Goodreads, and was shocked by the number of low ratings. Upon reading them though, I truly believe that they didn’t understand the story and its meaning. They saw what was on the surface, and not what was deeper, which was the true beauty of it.

I’m going to leave you with my favourite quotes from this novel – of which is it full of so many beautiful ones!
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
“I’m sorry there is so much pain in this story. I’m sorry it’s in fragments, like a body caught in crossfire, or pulled apart by force. But there is nothing I can do to change it.” (this is by far my absolute fave, isn’t it just beautiful?)

Thank you so much for reading this. I’m sure that many of you have already read the book – I’m very late to the game! But with all the chat about the new TV series which I’m dying to watch (and of course I had to read the book first), and the fact I’m studying it next year for A Level, I decided to read it. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

I hope you enjoyed this review!

Love, Em x

TWITTER: @emkburke

If there are any books you’d like me to read and review, or you have any books to recommend, leave a comment or drop me an email 🙂


10 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale – Book Review | Emily K

  1. Your review has made me want to purchase this book, and I am going too. I would love to read a review upon the poetry book Poems at the Start on Amazon. I loved the writing but I would love to hear your views on it too.


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