The Witches of Eastwick – John Updike


Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcées with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Alexandra, a sculptor, summons thunderstorms; Jane, a cellist, floats on the air; and Sukie, the local gossip columnist, turns milk into cream. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.

My Review

Have you ever enjoyed the movie more than the book? I usually prefer the book… In this case, I preferred the movie.

John Updike can write. There is no denying it. I actually enjoyed the way he writes. I appreciate Updike’s style of writing, his eloquence with his words, his characterisation and his statements made. He uses a range of literary techniques throughout that create a sense of a very thoughtful and knowledgable author. He develops his characters well, especially the three witches. In contrast, there were parts of the novel that did not hold this same exceptional skill, including his vulgar comments used and mysoginistic statements. I was quite shocked by what I was reading at times.

There are themes in the novel I enjoyed, including the focus on relationships being less structured and what each person wants. As a heterosexual woman with a husband and child I have not had to face discrimination due to my sexuality. This book challenges the idea of society’s expectations of being either heterosexual or homosexual. The characters enjoy experimentation. Personally, I believe that love is love and if an individual falls in love they should feel comfortable in thier relationship in society with complete acceptance and non judgment. This is where I am torn with the book. Updike’s messages behind his words are very clever. He gives the three witches power to stand on their own and in this respect is the opposite of chauvanistic. He does show a blatant disregard for motherhood and maternal instinct of every female character with children, which made me feel a huge disconnect with the characters.

This novel does not have as much magic as I expected and hoped for. It is not a light, fun read… I found the plot to be slow paced and did not enjoy reading the novel by the end.

In summary, Updike is a capable author who I respect for his writing ability, along with the important issues raised, yet I was disappointed and did not enjoy reading this novel. For me to have enjoyed this reading experience, it needed more magic, a better storyline, a faster paced plot, less vulgar comments and a better ending.


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