Book Tags

Book Traveling Thursdays: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book Traveling ThursdaysThis week’s theme is a freebie, so I took this moment to look at the various covers of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Since I reviewed the book on Monday, it’s clear that the theme of this week is The Handmaid’s Tale.

While I conducted my search for the original book cover, I stumbled upon the blog Aldine by Rebecca Romney. The author of the blog, Rebecca Romney, wrote a post that documents thirty years of the cover designs of The Handmaid’s Tale. She analyzes the changes in cover design in both Anglophone countries and on a global scale. It’s worth a read.

Book Traveling Thursdays is a weekly meme, hosted by Danielle @ Danielle’s Book Blog and Catia @ The Girl Who Read Too Much, where you compare the covers of a book that fits the theme. Then you post the original cover, the cover from your country, your favorite and your least favorite. You can link up and find the future themes on the Goodreads page. On to the covers!

Original Cover

Handmaid's Tale Original Cover

This is the original cover that was released in Canada. There’s something oddly intriguing about this cover. It manages to show women being treated like children, especially with the whole idea of “protect our children” or “protect our women” as a reason for creating “blah blah” law. The cover shows the contents of the book in clever ways.

U.S. Covers

Handmaid's Tale US Covers
(Left to right) Vintage Books cover, Seal Press cover, TV Tie-in cover, and the Houghton Mifflin cover

There are way too many U.S. covers for me to adequately cover them all, so I’m only showing a selection of four. I love the graphic design of the Vintage Books cover, and it’s elegant. The second cover shows one of the themes of the book. The last two covers in the row honor the Hulu TV series adaptation and the edition of the book that I read, which seems very popular.

Truly Creative Covers

Handmaid's Tale: Polish cover, Seal Press cover, Russian cover
(Left to right) Polish cover, Seal Press cover, Russian cover

While none of these are my favorite cover, I want to pause to appreciate the creativity of these covers. The Polish cover deserves some love for using doll clothes and for it reminding the reader of one particular scene between Offred and the Commander. Can we appreciate the American cover in this line-up for representing the forced silence of women with sewed lips?

I love that the Russian cover took advantage of matches. Matches are a small pleasure and a tiny detail of secrecy in the book, and on a book cover they can be a reminder of book burning, which works for this book since women are banned from literacy. It’s such a small detail, but it makes for an interesting cover.

Favorite Cover

Handmaid's Tale Emblem Editions Cover

It was so hard to pick one favorite out of the available choices. I finally picked this cover, which is from Emblem Press. While I would prefer to see the woman in color so she doesn’t look entirely like a nun, I am happy that she’s on here. I love that Emblem Press used Scrabble pieces since it’s important to the plot and Offred’s glimpse at a happier life.

Honorable Mentions

Handmaid's Tale Honorable Mention Covers
Left: Vintage Classics (2016), Top: Virago Press Limited, Bottom: Houghton Mifflin, Right: Vintage Classics (2010)

I’m not explaining why these are here.

Least Favorite Cover

Handmaid's Tale Korean Cover

The biggest problem for me is when a book cover does not represent the content of the book in any way. This Korean cover fails to show the content. While it’s nice to show a picture of the author, why is that other portrait on it? That portrait doesn’t represent the physical appearance of any of the characters in the book. And the overall graphic design sucks.


That’s it for this week’s BTT. Have you read or watched The Handmaid’s Tale? What do you think of these covers?

3 thoughts on “Book Traveling Thursdays: The Handmaid’s Tale

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that really has so many covers to choose from. I have looked at the different editions in the past, and I it would be almost impossible for me to pick a favorite.

    You are absolutely right about the Korean cover. I don’t know why that other portrait is on there. It reminds me of Little Boy Blue.

    Liked by 1 person

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