I won't bother starting a new thread; just bump this one.
Just finished it. Loved it.
I've criticised Atwood before because of her robot protagonists though in both cases (this and Alias, Grace) the women are supposed to be voiceless so I guess it's forgivable. I like the simplicity of the prose and the exploration of the mediocre. We learn about the world she inhabits but only in bits and pieces, dribs and drabs. It was thoroughly compelling and kept me pretty much gripped to the end though the end itself disappointed me. I really didn't see the point of the final chapter and the university speech about the found recordings; didn't add much to be honest and I'd kinda liked the idea of wondering what happened to her. I would have preferred it ended with her being taken away.
Like others, I'd also like to talk about feminism. But while they interpreted Atwood's feminism as the bog-standard, straight-forward version, I saw this book more as an attack on certain aspects of feminism. Firstly. Atwood is a very vocal critic of certain brands of feminism and has said that when asked if she's a feminist, she first wants them to define which feminism they're referring to. Secondly, the book shows that the Aunts, Marthas and wives are the ones that designate what role the women should have (including the unwomen) and it is they who ultimately train and prepare the handmaidens -- the aunts in particular taking the role of bad feminist here. The university lecturer mentions that there's nothing new in getting the local, conquered people to run themselves. Thirdly., there's the scene where the Aunt encourages the women to beat the rapist to death. OfGlen knocks him out to spare him any pain because she knows that the accusation is utterly false. But the rest of the women are encouraged to assume guilt. By the Aunt.
How very current.