The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition

  • by Margaret Atwood, Valerie Martin - essay
  • Narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, full cast
  • 12 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"Are there any questions?" The final line in Margaret Atwood's modern classic, The Handmaid's Tale, has teased and perplexed fans since the book's original release more than 30 years ago. Now, in this Audible Original production, listeners get some of the answers they've waited so long to hear.
Featuring an all-new interview with Professor Piexoto, written by Atwood and performed by a full cast, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition is a must-listen for both fans and newcomers alike. Emmy Award winner Claire Danes (Homeland, Temple Grandin) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, where the message (and the warning) is now more timely than ever. In addition to rich sound design that honors the audio origins of Atwood's classic, the special edition also includes a brand-new afterword from the author and an essay written by author Valerie Martin (Mary Reilly, Property).
After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life for mere glimpses of her former freedom, and records her story for future listeners.
Whether you're a fan of the original novel or someone who has recently discovered it, The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition will shock, impress, and satisfy all those who listen.
The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition features performances by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, Emily Bauer, Allyson Johnson, Gabra Zackman, Suzanne Toren, Tim Gerard Reynolds, Jennifer Van Dyck, Ray Porter, Emily Cox, Lauren Fortgang, Dan Reiss, Prentice Onayemi, Therese Plummer, and Mark Boyett.

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What the Critics Say

"Thanks to Audible, you can now pick up a new Special Edition of The Handmaid's Tale to get caught up to speed on the story of Offred, brought to life in this audiobook version by none other than Claire Danes. (Suddenly our heads are spinning with crossover potential.) Aside from the impressive voice acting alone, this audio update also contains new scenes that actually extend the story beyond the original last line of the novel." (Nerdist)
"This highly pertinent, ingeniously conceived production deepens the original work and even surpasses it." (The Washington Post)
"Danes has a calm, still voice that perfectly suits the protagonist.... So what is 'special' and new about this edition? Most of it has to do with material at the end of the book. Previous readers of the book will know that there is an afterword set centuries after the events told in the rest of the novel; it takes the form of an academic lecture that describes finding Offred's story. She never wrote it down; rather, she recorded it over a bunch of music cassette tapes. This edition actually begins each section of the novel with the sound of a 'record' button being pressed and a snatch of music referred to in the epilogue. In a sense, this makes listening to the audiobook a more authentic experience than reading it.... While the Hulu show has its points, what it lacks is the sheer poetry of Atwood's writing, which is profoundly and gorgeously highlighted by the experience of listening to the novel. Absolutely recommended." (Locus magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wait! It Mightn't Be What You Think--

I already have the original version of "The Handmaid's Tale" narrated by Claire Danes, and it's fabulous. But when I saw this Special Edition with the "full cast" tag, I thought it was going to be done by Danes as the Handmaid, and a full cast for everyone else.
Uh--no...
It's the exact same thing, so if you've already used a credit, you might want to think about whether to purchase this or not. It does, after all have the full cast for the Symposium, and the bit with Margaret Atwood, and a brief essay which don't take up too much time exactly.
IF, however, you've never listened to this--PLEASE DO!
I think it's Atwood's finest, filled with rich prose, unbeatable language, and Danes is a great narrator.
It is indeed important for our times as all that happens in the book is based on The President's Day Massacre--therefore, we give up rights we hold dear all in the name of fear, security. In this time when women's health is taking a beating, it's wonderful speculative fiction.
It's simply the day-to-day, night-to-night, existence of one woman trapped in a new society, forced to give up, to only remember with utter agony, the life and loved ones she was torn away from. It's what she has to do to survive, where Scrabble is kinky and ungodly.
Though I was disappointed that there wasn't a full cast for the book, it was really, really great to listen to this again.
You wind up wishing for so much for this Handmaid, least of all: that one day she can again be important enough to at least own her own name...
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- Gillian

An enjoyable dystopian with a lot of truth

With the release of the series on Hulu that was based on this book, I decided to give the book a listen before watching any of the episodes. I told my wife to start it without me in case I didn't like the book or couldn't get through it.

I did have a hard time in the beginning of The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's writing style is the epitome of the books teenagers are "forced" to read in high school that makes them feel like they don't enjoy reading. It was choppy and incredibly descriptive. For every description of something that Offred saw there were up to 5 lines about it in the book.

Honestly, that is the reason that I gave this a 4 out of 5. The story is awesome, and being written as long ago as I'm alive -- a lot of the main pillars of it are easily seen as coming true sooner rather than later. I believe that Atwood wrote this as an enigmatic "future" tale, not putting a date on it to age it. And it was written well enough that Hulu decided that they wanted to make a series out of it.

Offred was one of those characters that you both feel bad for and not. I think she was written this way so that you both feel pity for her and a little bit apathetic. By far I would not wish what Offred had to go through on anyone but at the same time, the way her character was written made it more or less blasé.

The dystopian future that Atwood created was easily what kept me reading this. It was interesting and deep. I would read more books about the lead-up and the start of the entire fall from grace. I absolutely loved her descriptions and the way that she left other things up to the reader's imagination.

If you're curious if you should pick this book up -- it really depends on how much you enjoy the story (or the writing). Some people enjoy long and over-explained diatribes (millions of Stephen King fans for example). But, don't say I didn't warn you.
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- Brian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-04-2017
  • Publisher: Audible Studios