Chantal Guillermet – Country – Literature

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian novelist, poet and literary critic born in Ottawa in 1939. She is an enthusiast of futuristic novels, often depicting pessimistic and terrifying futuristic universes, as in “The Handmaid’s tale”. Although she does not call herself a feminist, her books often deal with themes related to women and their role in society.

In her novel « The Handmaid’s tale », Margaret Atwood describes a dystopian future where religion dominates politics in a totalitarian regime.

The heroine of the novel, renamed Defred, is a servant girl who is forbidden to seduce or have feelings, her role is limited to reproduction. As the book progresses, she gradually tells her story, how she got there, and recalls her life before. This is what keeps her going and prevents her from sinking like many others before her.

Margaret Atwood says that she started this novel when she was living in West Berlin in 1984 before returning to Canada.

Confronted with the different countries that were part of the Iron Curtain at the time, she experienced distrust, silence, the feeling of being spied on and the deprivation of certain freedoms.

This book was a revelation for me, although I am not a fan of science fiction by any means.

It was immediately obvious that my quilt would be red and black with a gradient of grey to white. Black for the darkness of this society, grey for the monotony of the heroine’s life, white for the hope she has of getting out of it, red for the role she has been assigned.

To give movement to the background I drew a grid of curved lines that I worked diagonally. The blocks are mounted on a background. All the fabrics chosen (or almost!) are scraps.

Unlike the one in the book I gave my scarlet maid an elegant silhouette. She is painted with acrylic paint and the design of her dress comes from an old coat pattern from the 50’s that belonged to my grandmother! The dark silhouettes represent the maids who couldn’t stand this life and who took their own lives. They have been coloured with the inktense blocks.


  1. Wow what an interesting choice, I have seen some of the TV series. I love your design and this certainly depicts the troubled futuristic times she wrote about. Bravo

  2. I did not know this writer. The story of the handmaid reminds me of so many sad lives suffered by women. Your work immediately fascinated me. I like your design, the composition and the choice of colours. Chapeau!

  3. Not my choice of reading but from what I know about the story you have interpreted it very well. Good choice of fabric and great attention to detail as always.

  4. Your translation to the subject of the book and the execution of the work is very interesting. Also the choice of colors. Well done.

  5. I love how you made the waved black and white background for this intriguing story. Beautiful composition and execution. Bravo.

  6. A clever depiction of what I believe is a very sad tale. The figures look good set against your graded background.

  7. I can see true Chantal in this piece. So gentle and at the same time so powerful. Love your design and love everything about this piece.

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