My friends and fellow writers, Diane and Kristi recommended The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s a dystopian novel, first published in 1985, and the title was inspired by The Canterbury Tales. The protagonist is a handmaid, a.k.a. a concubine, called “Offred (Of-Fred).” The United States that Offred inhabits is vastly different than the one today. In fact, the US has been renamed “The Republic of Gilead.” Women are placed into various undesirable categories and are no longer allowed to read, have careers or own bank accounts. Before she was forced into the handmaid category, Offred (she never uses her real name) was a content mother and wife. After her old life was ripped away, she was sent to a sort of “ConcubineTraining School.” After “graduating,” she is sent to live with an older man, “The Commander” and his wife Serena Joy, with the sole purpose of reproducing. In Gilead, only females are labeled “sterile.” Serena Joy is labeled sterile, even though it may be her husband who’s sterile, considering he was unable to impregnate the past two concubines…
I thoroughly enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, in fact, I’ll have to add it to my favorite novel list and I’ll have to read more of Atwood’s works. My favorite quote from the novel is: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum- Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
P.S. Make sure to read the “Historical Notes” at the end of the novel. It serves as an epilogue.
P.P.S. The Handmaid’s Tale is number 37 out of 100 challenged books on the American Library Association list. (1999-2000).
P.P.P.S. This novel reminds me that I’ll happily remain in the US with its flaws and all because it is no where near as bad as other places in this world!