The Handmaiden's Tale is a dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood published in 1985. It is considered one of the great works of feminist fiction. It is set in a future north america where a type of Christian religion has taken over the government, human rights have been limited and woman have no rights, including being forbidden to read.
There is one class of women are kept to be handmaidens and men are supposed to have contact with them only during "the ceremony," a ritual of sexual intercourse intended to result in conception and at which his wife is present. This is what is supposed to happen but of course feelings develop.
In the latest version of the story to be made into a movie Elizabeth Moss, of Mad Men, will play Offred, a handmaiden to a high ranking offical.