I have a confession. I watched the show before reading the book. I had never even heard of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood before the show hit Hulu a few years back. So years later I decided it was time to read it and compare it to the show. I was shocked, to say the least.
While the general story is very similar, I found that a lot of the details are not. One, the characters I have in my mind from watching the show do not match the characters in the book. The commanders wife is not this gorgeous young woman like you see as Serena Joy in the show. And the commander is described as older, with a bit of a belly, in the book while the commander in the show is thin, handsome-ish and not super old.
The next differences I noticed was personalities. I feel like June in the book is more scared and worried about making big moves than she is in the show. They make June way more blunt and risky in the show. I love her personality on the show, but I’m a little put off by her personality in the book. I feel like it makes it less powerful that she’s so okay sitting back and doing what she is told and not sharing her issues with it so much. Nick’s personality is also very different. He’s more gentle and emotional in the show and tends to show his caring for June. In the book he is doing what he is told when it comes to relations with June, but I do think he grows to like her. Otherwise the ending would be different. However, he is much more emotionally invested than he seems to be in the book.
Smaller areas of difference are that Moira’s character is far more prominent. Atwood literally says “That’s the last time I ever saw her” about Moira at the club. However, she was a regular character in far more of the show and her story line is followed. She’s also more interesting as a character in the show than she is in the books, in my opinion. I liked her character more in the show.
The biggest story line difference I have noticed is that there’s not as much sneaking around happening. In the Hulu show, June is really into being against what is going on, planning escapes, planning to see her daughter and more. In the book she is way more happy to just sit back and let things be as long as she gets to live. This difference caused the book to read more slowly than the show was at flowing. The show was more exciting and kept you on the edge of your seat wondering if she was going to get caught. The book didn’t do that for me.
Overall, I think both are good stories, but I lean towards liking the show more. I would be interested in reading Margaret Atwood’s second book in this series, The Testaments. I will continue to watch and love the show on Hulu though. It’s pretty good!
Pick up a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale here by clicking the photo of the book below and let us know what you think! Also check out The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu now!