The Handmaid's Tale

Reviews, recommendations, books to avoid. What have you been reading?
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Reviews, recommendations, books to avoid. What have you been reading?

The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Liz » November 15th, 2012, 7:41 pm

After the US election, on one of the groups i'm on, someone mentioned that they were worried that if Romney had got in, life could've ended up like that in The Handmaid's Tale. Not having read it (then) I looked at the wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Handmaid%27s_Tale and ordered it from the library. I got in on Tuesday, and finished it yesterday. It is quite good. It makes you think. Though I don't recommend it if you have a 5yo daughter (like I do!) because that bit is a bit sad. It wasn't as scary, though, as I was expecting it to be - I thought NineteenEightyFour was much worse - and the ending wasn't as bad as I feared either (I didn't like the ending in 1984).

I think if it did come true, I'd be ok in the first pass, and then would get caught up for being the wrong type of Christian and thinking the wrong things.
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Lyn » November 15th, 2012, 8:05 pm

The Handmaid's Tale was marvellous - and, I agree, sad, somewhat sinister (I read it in 2000 so my memory of the story is a little bit hazy compared to yours). However, had Romney been elected, I don't believe life in the USA would have ended up like that. The USA is so vast and the population so diverse, no-one would ever have got all the people to agree and go along with one way of life. Somewhere else perhaps but not the States.

(I am very interested in the group you belong to which mentioned this - actually, quite interested in joining a reading group, perhaps in the hope that my choice of reading matter will improve. In recent years it has gone downhill something dreadful.)
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Liz » November 15th, 2012, 9:57 pm

The group is an offshoot of the Beeb Parenting site (much like this is an offshoot of the CTMB). I've been a member for years, though with the recent closure of BAP there's been an influx of members, but there will be no more newbies now as they won't be able to fulfil the joining criteria (ie 100 posts on BAP). In between parenting related posts, there are threads about feminism (there are male members of the group too, though mostly female - interestingly it's some of the female members that seem to be the most chauvinistic), politics, books and a range of other topics. I found it interesting that this book is considered a Modern Classic, yet I'd never heard of it before.

A book I am near the end of reading is Everything Must Change, by Brian McLaren. It's non-fiction, and very thought provoking. There's a preview on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Everything-Must-Change-Biggest-Problems/dp/140028029X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353016589&sr=8-1.
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Lyn » November 16th, 2012, 9:56 am

I know about the Brian McLaren book though I haven't read it. I read another of his last year I think.
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Bev » November 16th, 2012, 4:26 pm

I read The Handmaid's Tale a few years ago, and I remember thinking it depicts the downside of the more controlling side of fundamentalist Christianity. But, I agree with Vix. Such could only happen on small scale. Also, America has too long a history of rebellion to ever become subject to such control.
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby different glory » November 17th, 2012, 3:16 am

Checking in as another one who read The Handmaid's Tale a few years back. Clever, well-written, engaging -- and not so polemic as to be unaware of the arguments on both sides -- I have never forgotten that line about "freedom from as well as freedom to". I agree it's not at all a likely scenario for the USA as a whole, but I could imagine (imagine-- I don't mean I would expect such a thing!) a single state going this way -- think of Utah and its history. A single state could maybe legislate its way to a society like this gradually, in small incremental steps.
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. - Psalm 26
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Liz » November 17th, 2012, 11:15 am

Yes, especially with mobile phones and the internet (though of course they can be taken down) I think it's unlikely to happen - at least on a big scale.

The part of the book that struck me the most, were the Japanese tourists (which led me to thinking about the rest of the world). Surely the rest of the world could see that it's not right?
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Lyn » November 17th, 2012, 2:28 pm

Yes they would but be unable to do anything about it, especially if the country is powerful or has resources the rest of the world depends upon. Changes in oppressive regimes always have to start from within, the people themselves getting fed up, demonstrating, rioting, etc. Once the regime is destabilised, the rest of the world - or some of it - will get involved to help.
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Re: The Handmaid's Tale

Postby Bev » November 17th, 2012, 3:39 pm

different glory wrote:Checking in as another one who read The Handmaid's Tale a few years back. Clever, well-written, engaging -- and not so polemic as to be unaware of the arguments on both sides -- I have never forgotten that line about "freedom from as well as freedom to". I agree it's not at all a likely scenario for the USA as a whole, but I could imagine (imagine-- I don't mean I would expect such a thing!) a single state going this way -- think of Utah and its history. A single state could maybe legislate its way to a society like this gradually, in small incremental steps.


Not likely, DG, as the federal constitution protects the rights of all citizens. Even though the FBI storming of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, in the 1990s, was mishandled, it is an example of how the federal government will intervene when citizen's rights are being violated (even, in this case, when the abused are willing participants.)
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