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Thursday, 23 March 2017

I Love London

I dont have many words today.  The attack in London yesterday, is too awful to think about just now.

Here are some of the pictures from my latest trip to London and some from previous times.
















Lastly I give you Eros and beam you all love.

Sol xxx

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Thoughts on The Handmaid's Tale


***Get yourself a drink, this is a long one***

Having read this in the late 90's at school, I was a little worried that it wouldnt be how I remembered it.  A lot of the parents said that they did not think that this was a book that teenagers should read.  This made it all the more compelling to read at the time.  I had completely forgotten the ending and have a false memory of it all.  That being that they escaped together, Offred, Nick and the baby.  This book could be where my love of dystopian writing comes from.

It was meaty wasnt it.  I find {Margaret Atwood} extremely easy to read, with good pace and very visual writing.  

Although this book is, I feel mostly about oppression, there is constant hope,  hope for her daughter, hope for Luke, hope that freedom will come. 

As the ending indicates, Gilead, is the product of men, garnered from many cultures.  A grasp at holding on and increasing the population.  I find it very interesting where it says that the Commanders are probably sterile from a biological weapon that was destined to be dusted on India and put into caviar destined for Russia.  Gene splicing with the mumps virus.

What I also wonder about, is why they didnt just keep all of the Handmaids in one place and send them out when the ceremony was to take place.  To keep them 'pure'.  Maybe this happened in the next generation, where as it said, they would not know the difference and would be less resistance due to them not having been in the -before world-.  

Having read a few reviews on many other blogs, many said they found it distasteful and horrific.  Maybe I have read so many dystopian books that I no longer have this knee jerk reaction.  Maybe I am younger, or read a lot more Young Adult fiction and have a (slight) prepper mentality.  Much of their horror could be from the reality that some of these things that they are being forced into, in what  in the book was the USA, are actually happening in the world.  And the thought of it, being in a first world country, is such an awful thing that we are being repelled by it.  

In the book it makes comparrisons to the red dresses being in a concentration camp in WW2.  Clothes being an outward show of rank and place.  It is dominance, it is power, it is superiority.  Which within the last 100 years, this show of, for want of a better word is class, has all but been wiped out.  No longer do many wear suits to the office, although I prefer to wear skirts or dresses, I have friends who only own jeans and trousers and maybe one skirt they have for interviews.  The thought of being told what to wear, let alone it being a dress, with a shroud around the face to stop not only people seeing you, but you being able to see the outside world completely, is oppressive, agressive.  

"Our biggest mistate was teaching them to read.  We wont be doing that again".

Not being allowed to read.  Heck, I would start an uprising myself over that one.  To be able to read, well, if you can read, you can teach yourself most things.  This repression is to me the worst.  That thought is sickening, that women werent allowed to read.  In how many countries does this still happen?  Where females are still thought of as LESS than a male?  Not worth educating.  Its how they keep them in check, controlled, helpless and reliant on men.

Women could not accept this now.  It would be horrendous.  The brain washing that happens in the red centre, is the only way that they could quiet, dominate and repress the womens spirit.  At the end, it states that the red centre, where the women are taught to be handmaids, it is called the Rachel and Leah Re-education centre.  The name being derived from the bible, a quick refresher for anyone not familiar with it, being that Jacobs chosen wife, Rachel, was barren, and his other wife Leah was not.  The handmaids being some quasi 2nd wife, polygamy for the 3 years they are in that household.  

Control even extends to the name of the handmaid being changed to the name of their assigned Commander.  Offred.  The Commanders name is Fred.  Could this be, where in some cultures, when a woman becomes a mother, she is refered to as the babies mother.  For instance, the baby is called Ali.  The lady is then called Umm Ali.  Your identity is gone.  To some this might be a trophy to show motherhood, to others it could be the obliteration of self, uniqueness.

The name female road, the smuggling of the people, has a historical base from slaves escaping the USA and being smuggled from safe house to safe house, across the border to Canada to be free.  The underground rail road saved many in this manner, the safe houses being religious households such as Quakers, helped people to Canada and to Mexico.  The Resistance, to the oppression, and infliction on both men and women.  Men not being allowed to marry unless they have rank.  Even the name Econowives, the name makes me think less, that those wives are worth less than others.  Makes your top lip curl back doesnt it.  

Where the Commanders have taken from different cultures for their society, they have done this for what they think is for 'the greater good'.  Closed the borders, retreated into their new world.  Where it would appear that the rest of the world is carrying on as they were before.  Other than the gene splicing, what else happened?  They talk of cleaning up toxic waste.  Was there a nuclear attack?  Chemical spills?  The use of insectides, herbicides and other chemicals entering the food chain, rendering the masses of the population sterile.  This is not referenced clearly as to if there was one catastrophic incident that brought it all about.  You are left to speculate.  Was it like Chernobyl?  Or like the reactors in Japan being breached by an earthquake?  As I have said above, what makes this a compelling read and a touch scary it is because what causes them to begin this regime could be anything.  A Islamic terriorist attack, chemical weapons, war.  They are all hinted at.  This book was published in 1985, and although isolated to different parts of the world many of these things have happened.

Yes, all in all a very complelling read.  If you liked the films {The Village}, {The Hunger Games}, {1984}, you will like this book.  

No alien invasion, dystopian writing here.  No. This is a keep you awake at night. what if read....

8/10 I have read it twice this month.  

The next read along book is Middlemarch by George Eliot (Anne Evans).