Mrs Onlsow – English

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood

When and where did you read this book?

I first read this book, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as a quieter and more naive version of myself.

If anyone ever asks for a recommended read I am straight in there with this if they show one inkling of an interest in dystopia, Sci- Fi, Love, wait a minute scrap that. I recommend it to everyone, no matter what their taste and particularly now, with the world we are living in and our Covid-19 rules, there’s so much of interest in the book.

How many times have you read it?

I’ve had three full reads and dipped in and out for other reasons over the years- at times to use extracts in my classroom.
The last read through I did was in preparation for the TV show that has been made.

Who or what introduced you to this book?

My English Literature Teacher recommended it to me and two of my friends as an additional read alongside our A Level texts and at the time I remember thinking ‘where will I get time?’ But a few pages in I realised: I’d make time. This book was seminal.

Can you give a brief outline of the book?

A new version of governance takes control over America and families are broken apart. People are ranked and set to task in this military world. For women this centres around procreation. Women who can have babies become vessels to provide those in power with children. They will serve commanding officers as Handmaidens. They will never get to mother the children that they carry inside of their bodies they simply act as a surrogate mother. What I’ve said so far is just a scratch on the surface of the story!

What made you choose this as your favourite book?

Could I see all this happening? Yes, yes I could and with that mind blowing thought it makes it a favourite. Atwood has brought the impossible to the door and even opened the door for it in this book.

Are there any other books by the author you would recommend?

The Testaments.

What other books did you consider before choosing this one?

There are other books that are firm favourites for solid reasons in my reading life. Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship had a big impact on me, I loved a play called ‘The Castle of Otranto’ and there is a wealth of modern day texts I could list.

What book(s) are you currently reading? 

I’m reading Mark Haddon’s ‘A Spot of Bother’ as it’s sat for a while untouched and needs to be read. Next is ‘Cane Warriors’ – Alex Wheatle moved me. After that, not sure. I like to think that choosing the next book is a bit magical as there has to be a connection. I don’t just work through Top 10s, the book has to be one I feel I want to read. I suppose that’s what I mean when I say magical. I’ve got to feel like it wants to be read, by me.