Synopses & Reviews
More than three decades have passed since the events described in John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick
. The three divorcées — Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie — have left town, remarried, and become widows. They cope with their grief and solitude as widows do: they travel the world, to such foreign lands as Canada, Egypt, and China, and renew old acquaintance. Why not, Sukie and Jane ask Alexandra, go back to Eastwick for the summer?
The old Rhode Island seaside town, where they indulged in wicked mischief under the influence of the diabolical Darryl Van Horne, is still magical for them. Now Darryl is gone, and their lovers of the time have aged or died, but enchantment remains in the familiar streets and scenery of the village, where they enjoyed their lusty primes as free and empowered women.
And, among the local citizenry, there are still those who remember them, and wish them ill. How they cope with the lingering traces of their evil deeds, the shocks of a mysterious counterspell, and the advancing inroads of old age, form the burden on Updike's delightful, ominous sequel.
"Motivated by advancing age, loneliness, latent guilt and a sense of unfinished business, the erstwhile Witches of Eastwick return to their former Rhode Island coastal town in this tepid sequel to the 1984 novel. Alexandra, the fleshy Earth Mother; Jane, the wasp-tongued snob; and Sukie, a would-be a sexpot operating beyond her expiration date, have each survived the second marriages that took place following their flight from Eastwick in the early '70s, after a rival, Jenny Gabriel, died as a result of their spell. Where before they were strong, sassy, lusty and empowered, now in late middle-age they are vulnerable, fearful and in thrall to their aging bodies. Witchcraft is now beyond them; when they try to resurrect their supernatural powers to atone for their guilt, an inadvertent death ensues. While Updike remains amazingly capable of capturing women's thoughts about their bodies and their sex lives, the plot never gains momentum; the first hundred pages, in fact, are tedious travelogues covering the widows' travels to Egypt and China. Updike's observations about culture and social disharmony flash with their customary brilliance a less than sparkling Updike novel is still an Updike novel." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Vibrant characters, careful detailing, and a sense of anticipation of impending dire events leave this an absorbing read, enjoyable to its fullest even by readers unfamiliar with its predecessor." Booklist
"A work of old age that takes its time, gently drawing us into its knowing orbit. We inhabit this story as we do the later stages of our own lives. Some will not like the book, but it is a vital part of the Updike experience." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n unsatisfying rumination on the loss of sexual vitality and death. As elegant a writer as he is, Updike has not quite been able to create fully drawn women characters who have vital lives and personalities of their own." Library Journal
"The author's real feat (aside from his gorgeous prose) is in vividly taking us inside the lives of three women in the early stages of their old ages....If these widows/witches have lost a little of their magic, their creator has not." Chicago Sun-Times
"Updike has slowed events to a dreamlike pace and given them a dream's hyperreality, so that the distinction between the actual and the imagined feels erased." New York Times
"The travelogues are entertaining essays-in-dialogue, where sharply etched scenery and fact-filled reflections on ancient lives mix with some boisterous, politically incorrect riffing on accents and stereotypes." Los Angeles Times
"There is magic in his Eastwick revisited, and realism, too. Sometimes in the same paragraph." Miami Herald
"With its fiery energy and wicked humor, The Widows of Eastwick is a truly enjoyable book to read, and one suspects it was an immensely satisfying novel to write." Kansas City Star
"John Updike is who he is, and, to those of us who admire his approach to his topics and themes, we conclude that no one does it better." San Antonio Express-News
More than three decades have passed since the events described in The Witches of Eastwick. Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie had each remarried and left town. Now all three are widowed and have returned to the Rhode Island seaside town in this long-awaited follow-up.
About the Author
John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker and since 1957 has lived in Massachusetts. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.