2019 has been a major year for pop culture events. We saw the end of an era when Endgame came out and, a couple of weeks ago, Margaret Atwood brought out the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. Yep, some 34 years after Atwood’s groundbreaking feminist dystopian novel, we are back in Gilead. One of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on Buzzfeed (and let’s be honest, there’s a lot) was a girl complaining that we never knew what happened to Offred. What is this weird obsession that everyone has with closure? Why do we expect our stories to have an ending? Because let’s face it, we don’t have an ending for most of the people we encounter in our lives. Yes, we know the ultimate ending for everyone who is ever born but think of all the people you’ve met in your lifetime. How many of their stories do you know? And, let’s not forget that it’s a dystopian novel. People disappear all the time. Not finding out what happened to Offred fits with the genre. But, despite all of this ranting, I was obsessed as soon as it was announced that a sequel was coming. Who didn’t get excited? It’s Margaret freaking Atwood. And despite telling myself that I wasn’t going to buy it, I picked up a copy the day after it was released. I couldn’t help myself.
For the past few weeks, I’ve left work telling myself that this was going to be the week that I started my new blog post series. It all started after I listened to the episode of the Empire podcast where they were deciding whether they preferred Batman or Superman. I had decided it would be an easy thing to steal and, because I don’t really like Superman, it wasn’t exactly going to be a huge choice for me to make. Of course, as always, I ended up failing to see it through. However, I really liked the idea of doing another blog post a week and the Friday Favourites thing appeals to my love of alliteration. Thankfully, this week I was super inspired after reading The Handmaid’s Tale. Margaret Atwood really is one of the greatest writers around these days. She manages to be a beautiful writer of literary fiction whilst being so down-to-earth. Her novels are incredibly readable even with her breathtaking use of language. I highlighted so many quotations during my re-read that I knew I had to do a post about them. And it was one that could have gone on forever. I might as well have just typed the whole thing out. But, instead, I narrowed it down to 18. And I refused to include the oft-quoted “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” because it seemed like such an obvious choice. Not that the rest of them are particularly original mind you. So, do your favourite quotes appear on this list? Have I missed any? Let me know.
It’s been a while since I read The Handmaid’s Tale which is why I wanted to read it before starting The Testaments. The original novel is one of those momentous pieces of fiction that, if you read it at the right time in your life, changes you. I mean, is it any wonder that a teenage girl reading one of the most important pieces of political literature turned out to be this outspoken little feminist? But more than that. Margaret Atwood is one of the greatest writers in recent years so it definitely helped shape me as a reader. However, I have to make a point before I carry on. Just as I ranted before my Blinded by the Light review, I have something to ask. Can we please stop saying that we’re living in a world like we see in the novel? I’m not trying to suggest that things are great right now but America’s (undeniably) severe policies regarding abortions and birth control are not the same thing. And to suggest that it is would ignore the genuinely horrible conditions that many women experience around the world. Like the young girls forced into marriages or the girls facing female genital mutilation. Yeah, every woman should have the right to an abortion but at least you aren’t being sold into sex slavery by your family. Yes, we still have a long way to go but we’re nowhere near Atwood’s dystopia just yet.