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'It isn't running away they're afraid of. We wouldn't get far. It's those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge'
Offred is a Handmaid. She has only one function: to breed. If she refuses to play her part she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. She may walk daily to the market and utter demure words to other Handmaid's, but her role is fixed, her freedom a forgotten concept.
Offred remembers her old life - love, family, a job, access to the news. It has all been taken away. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire.
Includes exclusive content: In The 'Backstory' you can read Margaret Atwood's account of how she came to write this landmark dystopian novel
'Compulsively readable' Daily Telegraph
Margaret Atwood is Canada's most eminent novelist, poet and critic. Her books include The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, Bodily Harm, The Handmaid's Tale (winner of both the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction and the Governor-General's Award, shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made in a major film). Cat's Eye (also shortlisted for the Booker Prize) The Robber Bride and Alias Grace. Finally, The Blind Assassin won the Booker Prize in 2000.