The Handmaid’s Tale
Series: The Handmaid’s Tale #1
Author: Margaret Atwood
First Published: 1985
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . .
Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.
What an intense read! Like Orwell and Bradbury, Atwood is great with the cautionary tales! It does take a little while to get going and figure out what is happening, but then it takes off! I realize that as a woman, my perspective is going to be different. Listening to Offred comparing her life in Gilead to her life during the Anarchy, I was terrified. Leaving abortion out of it (I’m not going to start a political fight, we all love each other too much to do that), all the rights and freedoms pulled from women are the kinds of things that we’re even seeing today for everyone! Thankfully, it hasn’t gotten nearly as far as Gilead, but like I said, Atwood is all about a cautionary tale. Is it as good as 1984 or Fahrenheit 451? I won’t say that. I’ll also say that maybe it could have used a little more action. However, it’s and engaging and scary read and I think the majority of Americans should read it!
We Have Always Live in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: September 21, 1962
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
I decided to roll with my Shirley Jackson kick. I listened to this on audio and the narrator definitely did the story justice. Jackson has this way of setting a scene filled with tension and discomfort and questions. This story is rife with it all. Constance and Merrikat are the weirdos that urban legends are made of. Their family was murdered, Constance was the prime suspect, but acquitted, and now they live in their old family home alone with their Uncle Julian who spent the last decade of their lives trying to write a history of murders. The townspeople jeer and stare at Merrikat whenever she goes into town, but Constance will barely leave the house to go into the garden. Everything about this story is disturbing, but its very subtle.
I spent the whole book wondering about Merrikat. Is she mentally ill? Developmentally disabled? Who killed the family? And then the one scene where my blood boiled . . . But that’s a spoiler so I can’t say it. This is such a great example of Jackson’s iconic style and I think everybody should read it! Awesome story!![Top]
Author: Daphne du Maurier
First Published: 1951
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Ashley’s older cousin Ambrose, who raised the orphaned Philip as his own son, has died in Rome. Philip, the heir to Ambrose’s beautiful English estate, is crushed that the man he loved died far from home. He is also suspicious. While in Italy, Ambrose fell in love with Rachel, a beautiful English and Italian woman. But the final, brief letters Ambrose wrote hint that his love had turned to paranoia and fear. Now Rachel has arrived at Philip’s newly inherited estate. Could this exquisite woman, who seems to genuinely share Philip’s grief at Ambrose’s death, really be as cruel as Philip imagined? Or is she the kind, passionate woman with whom Ambrose fell in love? Philip struggles to answer this question, knowing Ambrose’s estate, and his own future, will be destroyed if his answer is wrong.
I totally remember why I love Daphne du Maurier. I first read Rebecca back when I was a freshman in high school. My English teacher (Hi, Mrs. Buck, I love you!), who was easily one of my all time favorite teachers, gave us a list of books and we had to pick one, read it, and write a report on it. I picked Rebecca and it blew my mind. I then read Jamaica Inn and The King’s General and du Maurier was forever established as one of my favorite classical authors.
Ivan’s sister, Ruth, who is seriously one of the coolest people I know, read My Cousin Rachel and she loved it, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s such a great book! It’s got that gothic mystery quality about it. Though it’s not really horror, it’s definitely psychological thriller. It had me going the whole time. I ended up having to get the audiobook so I could finish it on my drive out to the MKA signing in the Outer Banks. I just couldn’t wait to finish it. There were some unexpected plot twists that really surprised me.
I now have to go back and reread Rebecca and Jamaica Inn and maybe find some new du Maurier books. I absolutely recommend My Cousin Rachel to anybody who likes classic, gothic fiction.
My Cousin Rachel Movie Trailer: