Published in 1986, The Handmaid’s Tale is a haunting epistolary novel narrated by Offred, a woman living in a future America where environmental and societal breakdown have led to the establishment of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. In Gilead, women have been stripped of their fundamental rights and reduced to their reproductive potential. Lesbians and other ‘gender outlaws’ are executed, as are doctors who conduct abortions.
The Handmaid’s Tale was recognised as a modern classic and first adapted into a film in 1990. It reappeared in the headlines (and the bestseller lists) in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s US electoral victory, after which time the handmaid’s bonnet became an icon of the feminist protest movement. More recently it was adapted as a multi-Emmy Award-winning television series starring Elisabeth Moss, who also narrates the audiobook of The Handmaid’s Tale.
The long awaited sequel The Testaments is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale.