When I first read this challenge, the cynical side of my brain kicked in; retorting that that seems a bit ridiculous, I was sure that I read at least an equal number of books by women as men, if not more. A quick glance over the current collection on my bedside table, however, told a different story (pardon the pun). Currently, a stack of books sit on my bedside table- my great intentions to read and love for it have recently been overshadowed by the chaos which has come with being home after 6 months away. I am actually a little ashamed to say, that out of the five books sitting on my bedside table, none of them are written by a woman.
So realizing that this challenge was a good one for me, I decided to take it on. I chose to read a book called The Handmaid’s Tale, by one of my favorite female authors Meg Attwood.
My first piece of advice about this book would be: READ IT. Secondly, READ IT AGAIN. Quite honestly, I had to read it twice to grasp the full complexity of it- it is a literary novel and a great one of that; however, one which I had to pick at my limited memory of Year 12 Literature to grasp a proper understanding of and therefore gain the full worth of it.
One of my first reactions to this novel is that I found it to be based on quite a similar idea to that of 1984 by George Orwell. Most of you I’m sure, would know this novel, one which is based around a society run by the fascist dictator ‘Big Brother’. In a similar sense, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a communist society, run by a fascist regime. It is an intriguing tale of one woman’s struggle to put up with the regime, and essentially to do her duty of ‘reproducing’. Using the technique of flashbacks and incredibly detailed writing, Attwood thrusts the reader into this seemingly crazy, yet not unrealistic society. But be warned, you will have to stay focused to keep up with the shifts in time and place.
I love that this novel is based around the central female character (Ofglen…just take a minute to process the name…yep, got it?), and her internal struggles; while Attwood still manages to use an undertone of cynicism in her creation of this peculiar world.
This one is definitely worth a read, be sure to marvel at not only the detailed prose of Attwood’s writing, but also at the clever wit which underlies the entire idea of the story.