Skip to content
Paperback The Handmaid's Tale Book

ISBN: 038549081X

ISBN13: 9780385490818

The Handmaid's Tale

(Book #1 in the The Handmaid's Tale Series)

Select Format:

Select Condition:


Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

Save $8.76!
List Price $15.95

1 Available

Book Overview

From the bestselling author of Alias Grace and the MaddAddam trilogy, here is the #1 New York Times bestseller and seminal work of speculative fiction from the Booker Prize-winning author. Now a Hulu series starring Elizabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, and Joseph Fiennes. Includes a new introduction by Margaret Atwood. Look for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid's Tale , coming September 2019. Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may...

Customer Reviews

12 ratings

Book Club Choice

Not an easy read. But the author is an excellent writer. Have not seen the show, didn’t have the desire. But my interest is held by this novel much more than I imagined.


Almost stopped reading this book several times as it was quite disturbing and I couldn't believe the copyright date was 1986 but it appears to have been updated in 1998. I only bought it because I recognized the apparel of the women from womens rights protesters. I did finish reading it but don't know anyone who would appreciate borrowing it. Guess I'll end up taking it to a resale shop. Definitely NOT a book for teenagers and I have read that it was required reading for 11th graders but so many parents protested that they removed it from the required reading list. Evidently there is a series on one of the cable channels but I do not want to pay to see even one episode.

My sister suggested this book to me, I really had no idea what it was about. Well written.

It was a good read, not exactly what I expected. I just wanted to read it before I watched the television series. I look forward to comparing the two.

Disappointed In Copy Received

I was disappointed in the copy I received because it was obviously highlighted with a lot of red underlining and had study notes written all over it. It isn't worth returning, but I would assume that if and when I try to read it, I may just end up tossing it out because of these distractions!!!


It went very slow, mundane. I kept asking myself, what’s the point? Even if there is none, please make it worthwhile.

A haunting view of a possible future

I read this book my freshman year in college for an English class that focused on dystopian literature. This book is a haunting and frightening view of what the future may become. This book drew me in from the beginning. Pure good literature.

What in God's name kind of ending was that?!

It had me from page 1...I kept thinking some sort of prince would come in and rescue her from her mundane existence or some sort of pretty ending would finish this dark dystopian novel but that was definitely not the case. I am excited to watch the series on Hulu though! Glad I read it....just wish it would have ended a little differently.

A Great Read

The Handmaid's Tale is the story of Offred, one of the few fertile women left in the Republic of Gilead, a dystopia at its worst. Toxic waste has left population levels dangerously low and religious leaders have taken control of the country, using desperate measures to repopulate the Earth. Offred is one of the many "handmaids" who are forced to live with a commander and trys to conceive a child with him once a month. The book chronicles Offred's life as she is living with Commander Fred (hence "Of Fred"). Atwood wrote this novel at a time when there was the possibility of religious leaders establishing a theocracy. She portrays the havoc that can come about when a democracy loses its control over the people. Atwood does this extremely effectively. Since the whole book is through Offred's eyes, the one-person limited view point makes you use your imagination to fill in the gaps left by her lack of knowledge. The book isn't so extreme that it's unbelievable and is so descriptively written that it almost feels as if it the events already happened in history. It was truly a great read.

Plain good literature

I have read "The Handmaid's Tale" a number of times, both in English original and in Croatian translation (a pretty good one). First time I read it, it was because I have found it in a library of a Women's Study Centre in Zagreb, Croatia, so I expected it to be "feminist literature", and was therefore a bit cautious about it, thinking it would be some kind of pamphlet for women's liberation. Of course, I did not know anything about Margaret Atwood back then. First thing this book taught me is that M. Atwood is, above all, a great author, and that "The Handmaid's Tale" is a piece of plain good literature.The somewhat circular narrative centres around and is being told from the perspective of Offred, a woman living in Republic of Gilead, the dystopian, future theocracy established on the teritory of today's United States of America. Gilead's government is organized by a group of very specific religious fanatics, basing their theology on a couple of chapters from the Old Testament, specifically the story about Sarah, Abraham's wife, who could not bear children, and therefore had given Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, to concieve children with her. Also written in that chapter is God's command to Hagar to completely submit to her mistress, and Abraham's observation that Sarah is to do whatever she pleases with her handmaid.That is the point from which the treatment of handmaids is derived in the Republic of Gilead. As the increasingly polluted land caused infertility withing majority of women, the fertile ones, especially those who have been either married to divorced men (theocracy of Gilead does not recognize divorce), or single, but not virgins, are taken as "handmaids" to be awarded to high ranking families without children. Offred has been given to the family of The Commander, one of the highest ranking officials of Gilead, married to Serena Joy, a bitter and slightly desillusioned fanatic. Her narrative focuses on describing daily routines in their household, her experiences and her memories of a past, normal life, with a husband and a daughter. Apart from political description of Gilead's ideology (which is given masterfully, without unneccessary and boring descriptions, yet with frightening details), the main value of this book lies in Offred's introspection. She is a person completely determined by her biological function as a woman and a child-bearer, completely deprived of any other individual merrits or rights. The way Offred deals with that is beautifully portrayed; sometimes in a flow that resembles free-association ("It's strange now, to think about having a job. Job. It's a funny word. It's a job for a man. Do a jobbie, they'd say to children, when they were being toilet-trained. Or of dogs: he did a job on the carpet...The Book of Job."), sometimes completely ripped-off of any emotions, yet almost physically hurtful with recognition and fear of it possibly coming true. Granted, Margaret Atwood did write about a woman deprived of her rig

Atwood's Masterpiece

"I wish this story were different. I wish it were more civilized. I wish it showed me in a better light, if not happiness, then at least more active." So says master writer Margaret Atwood regarding her tour de force, The Handmaid's Tale. Set in the present-day Massachusetts of the future, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is the chilling portrayal of a totalitarian society as told through the eyes of a Handmaid named Offred. Offred, who can remember the time when she had a home, a husband and a daughter, now serves as a "birth vessel" and is valued only for her powers of reproduction.Offred (her name was derived from "of" and the name of her own Commander, "Fred") is forced to live her life in a new dictatorship called the Republic of Gilead. Offred is allowed to leave her Commander's home only once each day; her freedom, like that of other ordinary civilians, has been stripped from her and she exists at the mercy of the heads of state who are known as the Commanders.The Republic of Gilead, however, is a society in the midst of crisis. Its land and atmosphere have been polluted by nuclear waste and all but a handful of the population has been rendered barren. Those infertile women, women who will never, or never again, reproduce, are known as "Unwomen," and are sent to the Colonies where they must toil as laborers with no privileges, working to clean up the nuclear waste. The only exceptions are the infertile Wives of the Commanders. Women lucky enough to still retain their fertility, like Offred, are considered a treasured "object" of society and one whose role is to bear children for the Wives of the Commanders who cannot. In the Republic of Gilead they have a saying, "There's no such thing as a sterile man...there are only women who are barren." Offred, though, knows that in this nuclear aftermath, sterile men do, indeed, exist, and so she prays for a baby; not a baby that she, herself, wants to love, but one that will keep her from the dreaded fate of the "Unwomen."Many of the events in The Handmaid's Tale are derived from the biblical story of Leah and Rachel and Atwood has chosen to use many biblical names throughout the book. There are Handmaids and Marthas, Angels and Guardians and many others.The Handmaid's Tale is written in Atwood's masterful prose but this is not a linear tale. Be prepared to drop back in time, then flash forward, then drop back again. The writing, though, flows effortlessly and Atwood, as always, manages to keep readers riveted to the page.Although many people might feel that The Handmaid's Tale is too futuristic to be plausible, many of the events depicted have happened or are happening somewhere in the world at this very moment. It doesn't take more than a few minutes to recall places where gender discrimination and human rights have all but been stripped away. Atwood, herself, said, "One of the things I avoided doing was describing anything in the novel that didn't happen in this world."Chill

The Handmaid's Tale Mentions in Our Blog

Published by Emma Zaratian • April 22, 2019

Because we're gluttons for punishment, we thought we'd revisit five notable (and very different) dystopian novels that explore themes of environmental disaster. Just to pique our survivalist instincts this Earth Day.

Published by Emma Zaratian • April 08, 2019

April is National Poetry Month, which means itls the ideal time to treat yourself to a new book of verses. But how to choose a collection you'll like? While itls common knowledge that Sylvia Plath could pen a novel just as well as a poem, we often overlook the fact that plenty novelists have also dabbled in the arts of meter and metaphor. Maybe your favorite author has waxed poetic and you just don't know it yet. Here are a few popular writers wholve skillfully pivoted between prose and poetry.

Published by Beth Clark • January 03, 2019

Coming up in 2019: sequels, new novels, and LOTS of book to screen adaptations! Among other things. Here are just a few of the fantastic titles either coming out on the page or on the big or small screen to be excited about.

Published by Beth Clark • August 31, 2018

The Great American Read is a PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading as the core of an ambitious digital, educational, and community outreach campaign designed to get the country reading and passionately talking about books. One hundred books, to be exact, so happy reading!

Published by Beth Clark • August 10, 2018
The Great American Read is a PBS series that explores and celebrates the power of reading as the core of an ambitious digital, educational, and community outreach campaign designed to get the country reading and passionately talking about books. One hundred books, to be exact, so as promised, here are novels 41–60 on the list!
Copyright © 2019 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured