Book Club: The Handmaid’s Tale Pt. 2

I had mentioned last week that I’d do Matched for this week’s book club. But now that I’ve finished The Handmaid’s Tale (both book and show), it turns out there is just a lot more to discuss. So I’ll do Matched next week. I’ve started it and the jury is still out on it, but it’s got potential. So more on that next week.

The Book

I started this discussion last week. As a fair warning, if you haven’t finished the book or the show, this post is chock full of spoilers and you should finish reading/watching before going further. Additionally, I’m going to break a cardinal rule of blogging and open with lots of words and no pictures. This is some ugly, scary-true shit and it doesn’t need a visual aid. I promise to put pictures in the project portion of the post. You can scroll down to that part and I won’t think less of you. This has been your mandatory spoiler disclaimer.

It’s my understanding that Margret Atwood was involved throughout the process of making the show and will be even more involved in season two. The show deviated from the book, but at the same time, maybe it didn’t. In the book, Offred doesn’t discuss her own involvement with the resistance throughout her retelling of events. The epilogue takes place at an academic conference that is discussing the validity of Offred’s diary (the book you’ve just read), and they note that chances are she was more involved with the resistance, but out of fear that her account would fall into the wrong hands, she omitted that aspect of her life. So when the show depicts her efforts to fight back it’s in keeping with the spirit of the book, though not the letter.

The most jarring deviation for me was in the portrayal of rape and violence. I started the show before I started the book and was about half way through watching it when I took a break from the show to read the novel. Maybe this speaks to how desensitized to onscreen brutality we are as a people, but I actually found the book to be more vulgar while less impactful at describing life in Gilead. The book was jarring and I had to continually remind myself that it was written in the 80’s. Society, and even the feminist perception of rape, or how one would describe rape, was very different 30 years ago. I used to be a social worker. Even though I spend my days with yarn far more often than survivors now, certain language still triggers the self-righteous 20-something know-it-all within. The last couple of years, I’ve become very aware of how much I don’t know and how much privilege I have. Right now in the USA, it’s become a daily occurrence to hear about a black man shot by police. I don’t have any relevant experiences to draw on. I literally googled: “What is the right way for white people to support Black Lives Matter?” I still don’t know the answer, but if Elmo has taught me anything, it’s that when I don’t know something, I should consult my smart phone.

Bringing this full circle, it’s not my place to judge Atwood’s portrayal of sexual violence in her book. The show was more meaningful for me. The show very intentionally moved the book into the present day and depicted rape and violence against women in a way that felt real. I was the same age as Mabel the Merciless when the book came out. So I found some of the descriptions in the book vulgar as compared to the show, but I think that is because, for me, they seemed more fictional. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it, and I highly recommend reading the book and watching the show, but maybe not while you are knitting. This book resulted in a decent amount of frogging.

The Project

This week I was working on some top secret stuff for SOCK Club and I can’t show that off, but I was also working on my swap package this week. Now that it’s done and in the mail, I can show it off in all it’s glory. I love to do Ravelry swaps. This one is the Supernatural swap on the Geek Swap group. The rules for this swap are that you had to make three things. You’re supposed to make a small, medium, and large thing, but I went rogue and made three mediums. You also include some treats, extras, and a nice hank of yarn. The swap was a secret one, so we knew who we were sending to, but not who was sending to us.

I got an AMAZING package from ChloeTheCrochet. It arrived yesterday afternoon and I restrained myself from opening it until after Mabel went to bed. This was mostly so I wouldn’t have to share the treats inside. I made the right call. I got pie, chocolate, and a hilarious baggie of motel style coffee. Jac and I travel a lot for work, and I always try to get her to let us stay at some Supernatural style motels. She always tells me no because of, “bed bugs and crappy coffee.” So it was extra funny when I saw the hotel coffee packs.

For my package, I sent a witch themed box. I’m most proud of the needle felted witch. I got into needle felting last year and I’m addicted to the Going Gnome kits. This is the first time I’ve done a full felted project with no pattern, and I think she turned out really well!

I also made a Piper hat featuring an antique moon button and Rye gloves that had tarot buttons. This was a great swap, and I can’t wait to sign up for another!

~Megan-Anne

I’m searching for the perfect Christmas in July book club selection. Please suggest titles on the forum thread!