CBR11 Bingo – Summer Read
This category is pretty subjective, and I know that for most people this might not be classified as a ‘light summer beach read’… but I literally saved this for vacation and devoured it while in a lounge chair by the water, beverage in hand. So, for me, it works?
I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I had never read The Handmaid’s Tale until this month – if that gets out, they may revoke my Canadian citizenship. I think it’s because the first Atwood novel I read was Oryx and Crake, many years ago, and I really didn’t love it; that kinda removed any of her other novels from the top of my TBR list.
But with the emergence of the TV show (which I haven’t seen yet), and the increasing dialogue about its relevance these days, I was prompted to bump it up my priority list.
This story is about a new government regime that has been put in place to combat a fertility crisis in the country. Women are denied access to their bank accounts, immediately laid off from their jobs, and divided into Orders based on the level of contribution they can make to society. Women who are married mothers are safe, having proven that they can bear children. Useful women past childbearing age can be assigned to the Marthas, relegated to a life of cooking, cleaning, and general servanthood. Married women who are infertile are called the Wives, and are assigned a Handmaid to their household. Handmaids are women who have proven their ability to produce children, but were not married. In carefully regulated ceremonies, they will have sex with the husbands of the Wives, hopefully producing a child that will then be turned over for the couple to raise.
It’s a horrifying picture of what life could look like in with complete power turned over to the patriarchy, with women being stripped of all their rights. The way that Christianity is used as a weapon, with Scripture being misquoted and used to brainwash and control is terrifying – especially since you see this happening these days all the time. Lots of people have found this book triggering, so maybe that makes it less appealing and less of a summer read for them? Things like this don’t have that effect on me, so I found it to be a perfect summer read.