Better never means better for everyone, he says. It always means worse, for some.
I’d never read any Margaret Atwood, except the first few pages of Cat’s Eye, which got under my skin so uncomfortably I had to stop. Not a good start. But then my friend discovered – in a roundabout conversation that started with The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan one, it is one of my all-time favourite films) – that I hadn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale, and was furious. I was going to take it to Scotland with me but I was intrigued, so I started it right away. I don’t really know what to think about it – I really enjoyed it, I’m glad I read it, it’s given me a lot to think about, and I’m not sure any of it is especially coherent.
What I will say is this: I really did pick my time to read it, and I think it might have a lot to do with how it’s really got under my skin. A lot of people have commented on how timely the Hulu adaptation is, but I think it bears repeating. It’s extremely unsettling to read a dystopia that feels so incredibly possible – this is part of what makes Station Eleven so compelling, too, but in The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s the actions of people, rather than a disease, that makes the world change so much and so fast. Each step in the process is so small and simple that a society has sleepwalked into its own oppression – doesn’t that feel familiar?