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Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

A few things...

1. This book is proof that yes, ladies and gentlemen, you WILL get to that book that's been on your shelf for years and years. I bought this a year or so after it was published and I've finally read it some 20 years later.

2. Do not, I repeat, do NOT think this has anything in common with the movie with the exception of the names Darryl VanHorne, Sukie Rougemont, Alexander Spofford, Jane Smart and Felicia. There are only a few scenes that were used as the inspiration for movie scenes. The story is quite different in so many fundamental ways.

With that being said, I loved the book. It was a bit wordy at times but very charming. I've been to small communities in New England that Eastwick were modeled after and Updike reproduces the small town quite well.

I particularly liked Updike's take on "witches." He masterfully combined the witch mythology of flying ointments, connections with the devil and the Burning Times with the more Earth centered goddess worship common today. I discussed this book with a few friends and many of them thought it was a commentary on male domination; as Darryl was necessary for their power. I think that people might be confusing the book with the movie. In the movie, the ladies conjure Darryl. It happens a bit different in the book. The book already establishes them as powerful witches in their own right. They are contradictory in nature as well...feeling trapped by their children (brats) while reveling in the miracle of pregnancy.

Updike, obviously a man did a fantastic job speaking as a woman. I'm sure he must have researched women at length (hehe). Seriously, I can't imagine him writing some of the thoughts of the witches (particularly Lexa) without really speaking to women about their innermost feelings. I found myself, as a woman who has just moved out of the youthful twenties, connecting to Lexa. Women move into the Crone or "wise woman" stage and sometimes it's not necessarily a good thing; at least to them. We resist the changes in our bodies and in our minds. Some of us don't want to sacrifice our bodies or energy to wisdom yet it happens no matter what we do. The introduction of a younger woman into the "coven" and the jealousy that ensues is a very real emotion for some who are fighting this change.

Now, don't get me wrong...I loved the movie in and of itself. I found I loved the book as well. I also found that the movie was really it's own story independent of the book which is why I didn't necessarily get frustrated. Which was better? Why the book of course, silly!

Xposted on: bookish


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
I am going to read this book later on this year for an online book club (you're welcome to join!). I have heard mixed reviews on it, so I was happy to read your review! Now I am really looking forward to reading this! Thanks! :)
Jan. 25th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Are you thinking about The Widows of Eastwich? That was the sequel and it just come out. I heard that one got mixed reviews. It's actually the reason I read this one. I have the new one sitting on the shelf waiting another twenty + years to be read. LOL!
Jan. 25th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Nope, I am thinking of this one. A lot of people say they can't get past the beginning or compare it to the movie and are disappointed. I wont be able to compare it to the movie as I haven't seen it yet. ;P
Jan. 25th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
i have tried and failed twice now to read this book. it gives me similar issues as i get when trying to read Gaiman or Pratchett. sigh. it sits on my shelf. someday i shall conquer it. and American Gods.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )