Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss reunite, have words in Toronto

Margaret Atwood spoke of the power of the spoken word at Toronto's Union Station on Wednesday morning as she helped promote the Canadian launch of Amazon's audio division Audible.

Staged reading of The Handmaid's Tale in downtown Toronto promoted Canadian launch of Audible

Audible CEO Don Katz, left, is joined by author Margaret Atwood and actor Elisabeth Moss for a reading of The Handmaid's Tale, to mark the launch of the audiobook retailer's Canadian website. (CBC)

Margaret Atwood spoke of the power of the spoken word at Toronto's Union Station on a busy Wednesday morning, as she and her friend, actress Elisabeth Moss, helped promote the Canadian launch of Audible.

The audio giant, owned by Amazon, is now producing and offering a string of audiobooks of Canadian novels, and it's hoping attract new customers by playing off the buzz surrounding Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale and the subsequent TV series, which nabbed 13 nominations at the upcoming Emmy Awards.

To that end, Audible CEO Don Katz, along with Atwood and Moss, took over a section of Union Station, and passersby paused to hear Moss, who plays main character Offred in the television series, read out a passage from the dystopian novel. 

"I slice the top off the egg with a spoon, and eat the contents," Moss ended her recitation from the book's 19th chapter, as the assembled crowd broke out into loud applause. "It's not bad, Margaret," she said to Atwood with a laugh.

Atwood praised the audiobook as a popular option for today's busy world, while noting it is essentially the past coming full circle. 

"You can think of Audible possibly as the return of radio or possibly as the return of the voice, which never really went away," the author said.

Moss was pleased to have the opportunity to read one of the many "delicious" passages from the iconic book.

"To read it in front of Margaret Atwood is an incredibly weird, surreal experience," the 35-year-old actress confessed.

"I was like, is that okay? Did I do all right?" 

Elisabeth Moss called reading a passage from Margaret Atwood's novel in front of the author 'an incredibly weird, surreal experience.' (CBC)

'We feel loved and protected'

The event was also another step in Moss' gradual return to Toronto, ahead of filming set to resume next week on The Handmaid's Tale's much-anticipated second season. 

"It feels very safe," Moss told CBC News about how it feels to shoot the series in Canada.

"We feel loved and protected. Margaret is such a beloved figure here," she added.

"I feel really lucky that we ended up in Toronto." 

As for the second season, Moss warns fans to expect the unexpected. In fact, she says even Atwood was surprised when she saw the script for the first episode of the new season. 

"She said 'I didn't see that coming,'" the actress revealed.

"That's the greatest endorsement you can get from the author, who has clearly thought about what would happen next and if she hasn't thought of it, we're in the right place.

"But she loves it, so it's good," Moss concluded. 


Salimah Shivji


Salimah Shivji is CBC's new India correspondent, soon to be based in Mumbai. She has been a senior reporter with CBC's Parliamentary Bureau and has covered everything from climate change to corruption across Canada.