As many of you may know, I am no longer a New Yorker, so please check out my new blog A Library of My Own. If you are just reading Life and Times, you are missing out. Thanks!

Monday, June 2, 2008

1001 Books Update - The Handmaid's Tale

During Memorial Day Weekend, my husband and I roamed the city for a few essential shopping items. We went to Macy's and Best Buy among others. For some unknown reason, we ended up in Greenwich Village near Washington Square Park. I found this to be the best place on a weekend to find cheap books. There are books stands on every sidewalk and street corner with great used books for sale. I was in heaven. Obviously bring lots of cash. I'm assuming the plethora of books was due to the area's proximity to NYU. Who knows. But I snagged a copy of Margaret Atwood's book The Handmaid's Tale along with a pristine Hardcover edition of The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Yay!

My husband bought Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck. I've been wanting to read it since the book is about Steinbeck's travels around the US with his dog Charley. I love traveling and my dog is named Charlie. I know...a bit sentimental.
I then proceeded to abandon all other books I was reading and read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Wow...what a book. It is one of those books that stick with you and make you think. It is justly compared to Orwell's 1984. The premise is that in a future not too far off, cash has become obsolete and everyone has CompuBank accounts. All of the sudden, women are no longer allowed to have bank accounts (the money is transferred to the nearest male relative), are no longer allowed to have jobs, and their basic job is to procreate. This is a back-lash from the decadent and lavish times where pornography is available everywhere and birth rates are on the decline. Women are forced to give up their proper names and some (like the handmaid's) are forced to become walking wombs and that is all. The government has completely taken over, even in the bedroom, and has become the all seeing all knowing "The Eye".

It was an amazing book but if you are looking for a light read, this is not it. However, Margaret Atwood's writing style is amazing and the book hooks you in to see how it all could have happened and what is going to happen next. There is an 1990's movie version out but I'm not sure I could handle some of the scene's on film. A definite must-read though!


  1. I thought the Handmaid's Tale was a pretty amazing read. It certainly makes you appreciate the freedoms women enjoy now, doesn't it? How did you feel about the ending of the book? (the sort of post-script chapter).

  2. Thanks for stopping by Passion for the Page ;>). I have The Handmaid's Tale and Travels with Charley on my list, too! I love Steinbeck. We have other things in common, as well. I lived in Jersey City for 4 years before moving to Florida a year ago. I sure do miss The Strand! Don't miss the commute (or the cold weather) though ;>). I hope you and your husband are enjoying the city. I don't think I want to live there again, but I sure will visit every chance I get ;>).

  3. Kim: This book definitely makes me appreciate our freedoms. I think that the post-script could have been left off. It was nice to know that something happened so that this restriction of freedom didn't continue...but I would have rather it had just ended where it ended.

    Kristi: Thanks for stopping by my site! I'm sure you are enjoying Florida's weather...especially during the winter :)

  4. interesting about the postscript. I suppose I thought it was a bit differetnt - so many dystopias just end on a note of absolute despair (1984, We, Brave New World...), as if any resistance to evil is useless and nothing can ever be good again in the world. I like that in a book.

    Kudos to Atwood, though, for doing something a bit different. I thought the postscript was quite good because it showed that nothing lasts forever, the only thing that endures is change. On the other hand, though, now I think about it I can think of a few examples of dystopias that end on a hopeful note... so there goes my argument. I'll just shut up now.


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