Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...
Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a book they are reading or thinking about reading soon. It is also where I share my first impressions about the book I am sharing.
We slept in what once had 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 an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet tang of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in miniskirts, 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.
Every Tuesday, Ambrosia from The Purple Booker hosts Teaser Teaser at which participants grab their current read, open to a random page, and share two or more sentences from that page while avoiding any spoilers.
Teaser from page 33 of The Handmaid's Tale:
Ordinary, said Aunt Lydia, is what you are used to. This may not seem ordinary to you now, but after a time it will. It will become ordinary.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?
The opening paragraph of The Handmaid's Tale brings back memories of my own high school and college gymnasiums, Atwood's words painting a more visceral picture. The author has also done an effective job of setting the time line, describing how things have changed over time, making me wonder what is happening in the novel's present.
I picked a random teaser as I have barely begun reading the book. The one I share immediately jumped out at me. It has an ominous sound to it, doesn't it?
Although the read-along is part of Michelle's 13 Ways Challenge, which I am not participating in, the read-along is open to anyone who wants to take part. There is a Facebook group for discussion, and she will be posting discussion posts on the main blog as well for those not on Facebook. For the full schedule, details and to sign up, please visit The Handmaid's Tale - The #Resistance Read-Along. I hope you will join in!
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