Just after I started reading this book I read this article in the Guardian: My hero: George Orwell by Margaret Atwood
. She concluded the article by stating that she wanted to write a dystopia that was from the female point of view. That's exactly what she did.
I find it hard to articulate why exactly but I found the explanation, that is revealed piece meal in the protagonists scattered narrative, for how the new state of society came into being somewhat unconvincing. The story is set so soon after the establishment of the new regime that I found it hard to believe it has achieved such complete and thorough control over the populace that quickly. The ease in which the regime came into power seemed too smooth and clean for me to really buy into it as something that could easily happen.
But putting that aside and focusing on the story of the nameless protagonist, one has to say that this was an effective and scary portrayal of life in a dystopian society in which women have become dispossessed of their long fought for rights. One can really feel for the woman who has lost everything and everyone she loved, and is forced through demeaning and degrading rituals in order just to survive, not to be declared an "unwoman" and shipped off to the colonies.
The excellent ambiguous and uncertain ending was somewhat tempered by an unnecessary (in my opinion) epilogue in which the prior narrative was treated as some discovered historical document being discussed in a historian's lecture.
The author achieved what she set out to do quite effectively but falls short of Orwell's masterpiece [b:1984|5470|1984|George Orwell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348990566s/5470.jpg|153313] that inspired her.