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This is a book to read when young - a compulsive, fierce and terrifying novel that you will not forget

'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 Handmaids, 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

Reviews

Out of a narrative shadowed by terror, gleam sharp perceptions, brilliant intense images and sardonic wit

Peter Kemp, Independent

The Handmaid's Tale is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story

Angela Carter

Moving, vivid and terrifying. I only hope it's not prophetic

Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Listener

The images of brilliant emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel about totalitarian blindness...the effect is chilling

Linda Taylor, Sunday Times

Powerful...admirable

Robert Irwin, Time Out

It's hard to believe it is 25 years since it was first published, but its freshness, its anger and its disciplined, taut prose have grown more admirable in the intervening years... Atwood's novel was an ingenious enterprise that showed, with out hysteria, the real dangers to women of closing their eyes to patriarchal

Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

Turned 25 this year and...worth re-reading. As you grow, such books grow with you

Erica Wagner, The Times, Christmas round up

Fiercely political and bleak, yet witting and wise...this novel seems ever more vital in the present day

Observer

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781784871444

    October 3, 2016

    Vintage Children's Classics

    512 pages

    RRP $19.99

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    • Readings
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  • Hardback

    9781784708238

    October 30, 2017

    Vintage

    336 pages

    RRP $29.99

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  • Paperback

    9781784873189

    May 22, 2017

    Vintage Classics

    336 pages

    RRP $19.99

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  • Paperback

    9780099511663

    December 1, 2010

    Vintage Classics

    336 pages

    RRP $14.99

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  • The Handmaid's Tale
    Margaret Atwood

    Hardback

    9781841593012

    September 15, 2006

    Everyman

    392 pages

    RRP $24.99

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  • Paperback

    9780099740919

    October 25, 1996

    Vintage

    320 pages

    RRP $19.99

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  • Audio CD

    9781786141637

    May 7, 2019

    Audiobooks

    RRP $45.00

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  • Audio Download

    9781473560925

    April 30, 2019

    Vintage Digital

    RRP $19.99

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    • Audible AU
    • Google Play Audio AU
    • Kobo Audiobook
  • EBook

    9781473546967

    August 4, 2016

    Vintage Digital

    512 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
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  • EBook

    9781446485477

    May 15, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    336 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
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    • eBooks

Extract

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light.

There was old sex in the room and loneliness, and expectation, of something without a shape or name. I remember that yearning, for something that was always about to happen and was never the same as the hands that were on us there and then, in the small of the back, or out back, in the parking lot, or in the television room with the sound turned down and only the pictures flickering over lifting flesh.

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News
The Handmaid’s Tale Audiobook Read By Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss, star of the hit TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, has narrated the audiobook edition of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel.