Book Reviews

A Day in a Reader’s Life

A Day in a Reader’s Life #writebravely

Day 4 of the Write Tribe Festival of Words #6 and the prompt:  Feature a day in your life or someone else’s life.

I loved this prompt and again added my twist to the same 🙂 I am sharing a day in a reader’s life. I spent a big part of my day at the book meet organized by our book club.

Each member had 7 to 10 minutes to discuss the book she picked.

In order to keep the session interesting and cheerful, the voracious reader and moderator, Mrinalini, had formed these questions for discussion.

Q.1 If the main character of the book was based in NCR how different or same would their life have been?

Q.2) Did you fall in love or hate with anyone in the book?

Q.3) How would you have ended the book if you were the writer?

Q.4) Share your review of the book.

They say, ‘Great minds think alike‘. This was the case in our book meet as three members ended up reading the same book. The book was ‘The Lowland’ by Jhumpa Lahiri. The readers, Mrinalini, Deepika and Anjali, had differing perspectives. One reader loved the protagonist while the other hated her. They explained what made them choose the characters they did, and why. In the end, it was clear as day that every reader makes a choice based on her/his logical reasoning and emotional thinking. One character can be interpreted in so many ways by different readers. By the end of the discussion I was intrigued enough and decided to buy a copy of the book to see for myself which character endeared herself/himself to me. I wanted to know who would be my favorite and why 🙂

The Handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood.

My pick from the list of books was ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood. I started reading this book but had to put it down shortly. It wasn’t due to my lack of interest in reading the protagonist’s heartbreaking story but my inability to deal with her situation in the book.  The protagonist loses her identity, basic rights and even her name, something that is unthinkable and incomprehensible by those of us reading her story. She is acquired like an object and used and abused for the sole purpose of bearing a child for the wealthy couple who is unable to conceive. She knows that after delivery she is expected to relinquish any claims over her baby and move on to the next place she is commanded to go.

The story is told in the first person by a woman called Offred. She has an odd name which is explained as the book progresses. The character is one of a class of women kept for reproductive purposes and known as “handmaids” by the ruling class in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases. Offred describes her life during her third assignment as a handmaid, in this case to Fred (referred to as “The Commander”).- Wikipedia

Offred, she is called by this name because she belongs to Commander Fred. The names of all handnmaids begin with Of and are followed by their owners’ names. Glen’s handmaid is called Ofglen, Warren’s is Ofwarren … How can someone survive being so helpless and suppressed? We name our pets and cattle too. The fate of these handmaids was even worse.

I steeled myself to continue reading her story and that of many women like her, oppressed, suppressed and abused; reduced to a shadow of their original self. The will to survive takes over the will to fight and revolt, the punishment meted out to the rebelling handmaids’ acts as a deterrent. The women in Gilead aren’t given any choices on how to live, what to wear and whom to talk to. They are almost like prisoners in the homes of high-ranking officials of the regime.

They wear red dresses, red shoes, and red gloves. They wear caps with white wings to prevent them from looking at others and these wings also hide their faces. The white wings of their caps are like horse blinkers, to make the wearer look straight ahead without any distractions.

Offred manages to keep hope alive in her heart. She believes she will get out of Gilead alive and start her life afresh. The passage where she hides a cube of butter in her shoe lets the readers know of her optimism. She rubs the butter on her face and hands to keep them from becoming hard and wrinkled. She believes she has a better future and this glimmer of hope gives the readers something to hold on to while walking on this rough terrain with the protagonist.  The handmaids are sent for monthly medical checkups to make sure their insides are clean and healthy. Their outward appearance is not considered important  by the rich couples who keep the handmaids almost like prisoners. Offred dreams of a future outside of the walls of Gilead. This spark of light made me feel happy for her future and I cheered for her as I read her story.

Readers with their books at the book meet.

 The novel isn’t a prediction, says Atwood, because predicting the future isn’t possible; there are too many variables. “Let’s say it’s an anti-prediction: If this future can be described in detail, maybe it won’t happen,” she says. “But such wishful thinking cannot be depended on either.”-

Someone asked me how could I read this book if it was so bleak and gloomy? I focused on the tiny flashes of courage depicted in between the lines of the book. The beauty of the written word by the author and the ending added a new dimension to the story.

Did Offred survive the ordeal?

How much pain can a human mind suffer before breaking down?

Is there a silver lining in every cloud?


By Sulekha Rawat


I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6‘.

7 prompts for 7 days. 

6 thoughts on “A Day in a Reader’s Life

  1. What a lovely group of like minded ladies. It’s so wonderful that you are having such meaningful conversations and bonding over books. The Handmaid’s Tale is on my TBR and hope to pick it up. Your post has piqued my interest for The Lowland too. Thanks for sharing, Sulekha. 🙂

    1. Thanks Shilpa. You must try and read The Handmaid’s Tale. It is mind blowing. I have yet to read the Lowland. Our book club members are awesome, so invested in the books and have so much to share about the stories they read.

  2. Still trying to get a copy of this book ever since I heard about it! Your book club sounds damn interesting and I wish I lived closer to be a part of it!!! Loved your take on the book and am still interested to read it despite all the despair and bleakness in it

  3. Shalini, I had ordered it online. The book rips your heart out and puts it back in again after a while. The trick is to continue reading even when you are shaken to the core with what’s happening in the protagonist’s life.

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