[Book Review] The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a well reviewed and well received novel already. First published in 1985, Atwood’s novel has continued to be at the forefront of fiction and feminism since it’s release.

The novel has gained a new interest with the release of the television series with the same name, and it’s readership and understanding continues to grow.

I am one of the readers who’d heard so much about the novel, but had never sat down to read it. I saw the television series and wanted to read it, and I have now finally managed to complete it.

The Handmaid’s Tale was everything I thought it was going to be. The narrative of the story is interesting, it’s written as if the narrator is talking to you through the story. She guides you through the story with an eloquence one can only achieve through the subconscious.

I personally enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, it brought up a lot to think about. The tale talks of love, loss, grief, rebellion and many others. The novel is open-ended and doesn’t really draw to any conclusion and only briefly mentions how things came to be the way they were. For me, this was both a positive and a negative, as I so badly wanted to know how this dystopian future even came about, but it also made it feel real. The narrator spoke to you as if you knew how these events happened, and maybe how they ended.

That was both infuriating (in an I really need to know kind of way), and pleasant.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The writing flowed well, and talked about some really interesting things that relate scarily to what is happening in our modern times, despite being over thirty years old, and in a dystopian setting.

Would I recommend the book? Yes. Definitely. It would be interesting to discuss with people what they thought of the novel, and what they thought as I know that opinions on this novel vary greatly.

Literary Adaptation

“All adaptations express or address a desire to return to an ‘original’ textual encounter; as such, adaptations are perhaps symptomatic of a cultural compulsion to repeat.” Rachel Caroll (Adaptation in Contemporary Culture)

I’m sure throughout our lifetimes, everyone has read an adaptation of something, or watched an adaptation of something. Adaptation of literature is such a massive thing. It can be from novel to film, from novel to theatre, even from novel to novel, myth to something else.

Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Jane Eyre. These days everything has an adaptation.

For many of us, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes that film adaptation just isn’t want you thought it was going to be. I’ve experienced that, too.

Rachel Caroll’s statement in her introduction to her book is interesting to me. Perhaps for some of us, when we finish reading that amazing novel we think ‘gosh, I’d love to see a film of that’. I know I’ve done it in the past.

It’s strange, because when I was studying on my undergrad in English literature, there seemed to be a general rule of ‘film versions of books are crap’, and I always found it a little odd. A lot of people would judge the film based on the fact that it was being adapted for screen, as if changing the way to appreciated the plot changes how well the plot is delivered.

If we use film adaptations as our base here, then the film is limited to a directors interpretation of the written word. We have this one person’s view on what the book should be like, whereas a novel can hold thousands of different interpretations based on the reader.

So what compels us to watch a film version of a book? Or even a comic book? For example, Marvel Cinematic Universe has become such a large industry over the last few years, and this is based on the adaptation of their comic book predecessors. What compels people to watch these films of the comic books?

What compelled people to watch the film adaptations of Harry Potter? What compels people to watch the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones? The Handmaid’s Tale?

Personally, I enjoy watching film adaptations of novels, I like seeing things from a different perspective. But, I also understand that some of them are not the best they can be.

What do you think about adaptations? Do you enjoy the films of your favourite books?

Do you have a favourite adaptation of a book? It doesn’t have to be a film! Have you seen an interesting theatre adaptation of a novel? A favourite musical?

Don’t forget to vote in our June Book Poll. There’s some really interesting choices this month!

Your Favourite Place to Read

Do you have a favourite place to read?

I’d like to think that everyone has a favourite place they like to sit down and relax when they read. Reading for me is therapeutic, and there’s no point being uncomfortable as I read.

For example, do you enjoy reading in bed? With a cup of tea? At the library? By the beach?

Over the course of the years, I’ve changed the ways I read, and the ways I enjoy reading.

Personally, I enjoy sitting on the sofa with a book. I can usually fit myself in the corner of the sofa with my book and I can sit there for hours lost in a book. I don’t usually tend to eat or drink anything, because I’m usually too lost in my book.

Do you have a favourite place to read? I’d love to hear them!

Our June Book Poll!

Hello!

It’s time for our June Book Poll. I hope everyone’s as excited about this list as I am! Thank you to everyone who made suggestions, even my mum who probably won’t read this post!

The poll should hopefully appear at the bottom of the page!

This months suggestions include:

The Midwife’s Here by Linda Fairley

Into the Magic Shop by James Doty

Elidor by Alan Garner

Whistle In The Dark by Emma Healey

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Halfway!

So, by this point in our month, you should be at least half way through the book!

Unless you’re a fast reader and already completed, then congrats!

I hope everyone is enjoying or has enjoyed Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic. I’m just over halfway myself and I’m enjoying the book quite a lot!

Since this is our first month as a book club, I’m still in the process of figuring out which way is going to work best.

There are currently two options you could go for, that I think will work best.

First option:

Do you have a wordpress blog of your own? Then simply write the review on your own blog with the title of the book in the subject, then in the tags put ‘longreadersbookclub’ so I can track it and reblog it onto this site.

The review should ideally be 100-300 words, but if you have a lot to say, then please do so!

An example of the title would be something like [Book discussion] Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic. But go crazy!

Second Option:

Don’t have a wordpress blog? Or simply don’t want to post it yourself? Then, drop me an email (longreadersbookclub@gmail.com) and I’ll post it onto the blog myself.

The format should be similar to this, which can be found on the Contact page:

Subject:

[Book Review] Month and Book Title + Author.

Body of email:

Name

Social Media (If you want to!)

Did you like the book?

100-300 words on your thoughts of the book.

 

If you could post your discussion by the 31st of May, 10pm BST that would be wonderful, but for people in later timezones, then I’ll look for anything on the tags on the 1st. So, please don’t think I’m ignoring you!

I’m not anticipating a lot for the first month, which is fine, but hopefully we can inspire some great discussion this month and over the coming months!

 

Well-read

What constitutes as well read to you?

For me, when I picture a well-read book I think of broken spines and the indescribable smell of paper.

A book that is well-read has the signs of being read and loved.

As a younger reader, I used to loathe the idea of breaking the spine on a book and the thought of bending pages on it would send a shiver up my spine, but there’s also something special about a book that has obvious signs of reading.

A book can tell a story, but it can also tell a story about the reader. It can show your reading habits, how much you’ve enjoyed the book and how much you’ve taken from a book. A book that sits on your shelf or next to your bed looking too read is just as amazing as a book that looks untouched.

I remember once going to a book convention in London, and I apologised to the author who was signing my book about how unkempt it looked. But they told me it showed them I had enjoyed.

There is always another side to the story, and what you take from it. I used to be so bad about preserving my books the way I’d bought them, but now I don’t mind so much when they end up a little worse for wear.

Do you have any unbreakable rules when it comes to looking after your books? I find a lot of people differ on their views on books than I do, and it leads to an interesting discussion!

A Book Cover

Many of us, like me, find a kind of solace in visiting the book shop. There’s something about the smell of a bookshop that greets you and welcomes you.

The first thing you notice about a book? For me, it’s usually the cover.

If the book cover is interesting, I find myself more drawn to the book.

Perhaps more of a coincidence than anything, but most of my book covers end up being blue. A blue book cover must really spring out to me.

I always admire the effort that goes in to making a book cover, there are so many out there! From shiny, to simple, to abstract art. A good book cover is imperative to get the readers to your book in the first instance.

Where do you place the title of the book? What kind of font is it?

These are all things that interest me.

There are suggestions that with the rise of ebooks and digital reading, the book cover has lost it’s meaning, or is of less value than it used to be. I would like to disagree, with the rise of social media and images being readily available, the book cover has now been granted more than one meaning. Walking into a bookshop and seeing a book cover is one meaning, using the book cover online to promote the book has another.

Browsing through your online stores is similar in principle to walking into a store. You scroll through the lists of books and pick out the ones with the most interesting covers and titles. You make your first instinct of the book based entirely on it’s outside attributes.

Essentially, judging a book by it’s cover. This is why the book cover is necessary, and the need for marketing a book will always secure the use of a book cover.

The book cover is your first impression, does it draw you in? Does the cover of the book give away a little of the story? Does it intrigue you enough to read the summary on the back and to skim a few pages in the book shop?

What do you think? I love a good book cover, especially when I’ve finished and I can tell people about it. A book cover will always make someone interested.