Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire - neither Offred's nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
The Handmaid's Tale
"You wanted a women's culture. Well, now there is one. It isn't what you wanted, but it exists."
Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a cleverly crafted narrative set in the Republic of Gilead, a futuristic dystopia in which women are commoditised and valued by their fertility. Described as both a feat of science fiction and a foreboding moral message about femininity and the enduring power of the patriarchy, Atwood's work focuses on the highest class of fertile females whose names such as Offred and Ofglen identify them as daughters of their fathers, rather than autonomous beings.
The story is a delightful contrast narrated by Offred, who recalls life before the totalitarian Republic of Gilead was established, and how being chosen as 'birthgivers' changed right before her the attitudes of many women she once knew. She lives in a home where she, among other young women living there, must be impregnated by the man of the house, and struggles with the reality that failing to become pregnant will result in her disposal and demotion of human worth. Written in first person, Offred speaks straight to the reader of her illegal affair, and outlawed pursuits in reading, writing, books and board games. For fans of other dystopian fiction such as George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Lois Lowry's The Giver, The Handmaid's Tale is excellent science fiction and a memorable segue into feminist prose. - Hannah
QBD The Bookshop, 11/03/2016