This is the sort of book Sarah Palin would blithely endorse – as a manual. Much has been said of Margaret Atwood‘s talent in depicting future dystopias, but this one is the best at casually putting across the message. And what a message it is. Religious fundamentalists have slaughtered the Congress in the good ol’ US of A, and instituted an androcracy the likes of which have not been seen since Biblical times. Not only are men firmly in charge, but they have reduced women to rigidly biological roles, with their viviparousness made paramount and venerated above all. The tale is told from the point of view of an escapee, one who flees her handmaidenly hell and makes it to Canada and thence to England.
The parallels between Atwood’s nightmare and our world are quite recognizable, with the chilling realization that more and more of the similarities are being realized with every passing day. Consider the matter of the patronymic replacing the entire name, one of many indignities suffered by women of the book’s era. The inherent hypocrisies of theocracies are revealed by Atwood’s denouement, made all the more chilling by the casual nature of their pronouncement. Read this book and shiver for a world that might yet come one day.