The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | What is going on with the writing?

The Handmaid's Tale

It was about time this one was read. It’s been on my TBR for so long, and now that it’s been sat on my bookshelves for a fair few months, now was the time.

spoiler free

Let’s dive right in!

The Handmaid's Tale


Synopsis (1)

(Found on Goodreads)

The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first-century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.


This one was SO hard to rate!

My thoughts are everywhere with this book. I’ll do my best to explain them to you:

So. The very first thing I noticed? Most of the sentence are so. damn. long. What the hell? So long, and full of commas. Example:

“Moira, sitting on the edge of my bed, legs crossed, ankle on knee, in her purple overalls, one dangly earring, the gld fingernail she wore to be eccentric, a cigarette between her stubby yellow-ended fingers.”

And I hadn’t even marked that off to give as a quote. I literally just flicked through the book, stopped on a chapter and picked the first sentence I saw. That’s how often the sentences are like that.


I sat thinking to myself “maybe that’s just how the character sees/remembers everything? Step by step, taking details in and just adding them like a list.” But it made me feel so disjointed. There wasn’t the usual flow I feel when reading.

And it’s not just that. But the perspective would jump around all over. One minute she’d be explaining what was happening right now, then she’d suddenly be remembering something, only to get to the end of the memory and say something like “that’s what I’d like to think happened” and turn out to be lying about everything. WHAT.

And I get it. It makes the book seem quirky. It matches the bizarre world that seems to be our own, but regressed. But I just do not get along with the writing style at all. Between the long sentences and million commas, and the jumping around of perspectives, my brain just couldn’t keep in a decent flow with the story.

And here comes the contradicting thoughts…

I did actually really like the story. 

It was so odd to see our world this way. Granted, I don’t live in America, where this is set, but still. I at least know it’s not like this book. Thank goodness.

And I know exactly why I found it fascinating to read about – because it could all very well happen. There’s hardly anything in this book that hasn’t already happened at some point in history. Which believe me, is quite scary to read about. Not in a horror story kind of way, more in the this-is-mildly-disturbing-and-I-don’t-quite-know-what-to-do-with-this-information kind of way.

So what do you do when you like a book’s story but don’t get along with the writing style?

Well I don’t know about you, but I rate it somewhere down the middle.

3 stars


give a warning

Share your thoughts!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Are there any books you’d recommend that are similar to this?

If you haven’t read it, do you plan to? Is it on your TBR?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…


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14 thoughts on “The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | What is going on with the writing?

  1. I get what you mean about the writing style. I’ve picked this book up and quickly put it down again numerous times because I just couldn’t get past the writing. The story sounds really interesting though so I’m sure I’ll eventually read it. Great review 😊!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      I’m glad it’s not just me that found the writing style odd – everyone else seems to love it! Though I hope of you try again one day, you enjoy it more!


  2. Nice review, I was thinking about picking it up because the story sounded really intriguing, but the writing style doesn’t sound like something I could get through with my small attention span LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t usually get a long with this style of writing (long sentences and jumping around in time). For some reason it’s working really well for me with this book – I’m currently about 100 pages in.

    Glad to hear to enjoyed the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve noticed that classics often have long sentences, so maybe this writing style was really popular at some point? I’m really interested in reading this one, but the writing style does sound confusing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know, it seemed different to the other classics I’ve read. For me, it just didn’t flow properly. Though thousands of people love it, so I hope you do too if you read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d read the Handmaid’s Tale a long time back, so I’d planned on re-reading it as an audiobook before watching the series… but now that I see those long run-on sentences, I’m not sure anymore haha! Those could be terrible in audio form…
    Maybe I’ll just head directly into the TV version for now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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