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The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick, #1)
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The Witches of Eastwick (Eastwick #1)

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  9,790 ratings  ·  760 reviews

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

Paperback, 307 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

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I'm suprised by all the reviews of this book that speak of Updike's ability to "get" and fully understand women ... because that seemed to me to be the most blatantly lacking part of this novel. There is not one redeemable female character in this novel. All of the women are vapid, vacuous and more often than not cruel, indifferent and self-absorbed.

I am not being prudish, I'm not suggesting that every female character should be a paradigm of female virtue - but what is Updike saying about wome

I read this book the way it ought to be read, or at least in the circumstances which are best suited for it.

I was away at a beach house for a weekend in the middle of summer and had pretty much nothing to do but lollygag around, smoke cigarettes, and read this book.

It's perfect for sunny clear skies and long hours drinking lemonade by the ocean.

The writing is crisp, quick and clear. Updike's pretty much encyclopedic when it comes to writing skills and he's doing everything pretty smoothly here:
High Hopes will almost always set a reader up for a fall. The excitement of chosing a book, THIS book, to begin my month... Witches and spells to celebrate the Halloween spirit of October.

Having never seen the film, or read any Updike novels before, I really did not know what to expect. I only knew that I expected great things. And sadly, this novel did not deliver many great things at all.

A little over two weeks spent trying to get into a novel that is only 306 pages long. That's an
I must confess that I was hoping that this book would be a light/fluffy/fun read. I really loved the movie and was looking forward to some light hearted revenge to ease the aching in my brain. Unfortunately for me and my brain, the only things from this book that made it into the movie were the three witches, the horrible rich man (wasn't Jack Nicholson just perfect in this role...totally disgusting but still gotta love him), and the game of tennis. Okay, maybe some other stuff too, b ...more
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Having seen the movie first, the cast of characters was already set in my mind. I could not envision them in any other way. This didn't really get in the way, but some of the differences in premise and plot did disappoint.

(view spoiler)
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I first picked this book up on one of my book speed-dating projects, and went back to it when I needed something to read before falling asleep. For John Updike, this really is quite fluffy. That's a good thing because I've abandoned Rabbit, Run at least twice - I just hate the characters so much that I can't even go along with the author on the journey.

I'm not really sure whose side to take on this book, because I have read that this was Updike's response to complaints of misogyny in his Rabbit
I love this book. Not only does John Updike write heavenly prose, but this book is quite the feminist manifesto. Jane, Sukie, and Alexandra are created by Updike with care and attention, and they are fun, well-drawn personalities to spend a little time with. Updike uses the natural setting of Eastwick, Rhode Island to great advantage. If you feel like getting away to one of those small hamlets on the eastern seaboard, watching a storm come in from the sea, this is the book that will take you the ...more
Three witches, what's going through their heads, gossip and how they handle the new man in town, that's pretty ,much the plot. While I can't say I loved the story, the description, details and generally the way Updike wrote it was impressive.

"Driving home in her Subaru, whose interior smelled of dog, she saw the full moon with its blotchy mournful face in the top of her tinted windshield and irrationally thought for a second that astronauts had landed and in an act of imperial atrocity had spra
A 2.5 really...

I was already really familiar with the film adaptation when I picked this up looking for a campy and fun pre-Halloween read, only to find myself somewhat disappointed at the very different tone of the book (not the only way in which this differs from the film, which also seems to have cast the lead actresses in the wrong roles as well as being in possession of a far more charismatic Darryl Van Horne than the one written). Usually I'm a book-first kind of girl, and I did admittedly
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I just finished this as part of an online book club. The idea was to read something spooky heading into Halloween but I got a late start and finished by Christmas. I barely recognized the movie with Jack Nicholson, but he was a good choice for the part. I had never read an Updike novel before and have decided I'm not a fan. The first half of the book he definitely works too hard at being clever with his descriptions. The second half was more relaxed, not trying to impress the reader as much with ...more
Amanda L
Initially I was extremely impressed with how well Updike crafted at least two of the three female leads. He seemed to be very in touch with female concerns and sensibilities and the characters, even though at times annoying, were on the whole quite likable because they felt very real.

These characters could only carry the story so far, however. Aside from the fact that their sensibilities became increasingly reminiscent of those we might expect men to impose on them, the story itself was really s
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I read Witches of Eastwick because it's said at the back cover that my favorite author Haruki Murakami likes John Updike's novels as well. So I gave it a shoot.

I must confess, Mr. Updike's subject matter (daily affairs of a bunch of middle class women in a quiet island community) and his writing style is not my favorite type. Still I found Witches of Eastwick riches with clever writing, and it's no feel-good chick-lit; those Witches of Eastwick are no harmless and likable creatures. I'm both sur
Eric Chappell
Read Summer 2010; Re-read January 2011

Summary: Wickedly entertaining. The Witches of Eastwick is about three divorced women in the New England town of Eastwick who discover that after being abandoned or divorced from their husbands, they have supernatural powers. Alexandra Spoffard, the sculptress, is the leader of the three. She makes little clay figurines (called "bubbies"), stores too much tomato sauce, and is carrying on an affair with Joe Marino, the town plumber. Jane Smart, the cellist, i
Characteristically Updike--bitter, poignant, and incisive. Three women find that their failed marriages have brought them not only freedom but also magic powers. They need each other for friendship and support but also can't help but put each other, and the other women in their small town, down from time to time. I think I would find this kind of misogyny trite and offensive if the characters didn't have the depth that they do, and if he wasn't even worse about men. The promiscuity had even me a ...more
Kylin Larsson
The Witches of Eastwick feels like John Updike's reaction to the phenomenon of feminism. The classic witchy features of the three divorced women felt familiar from other stories and films. The three witches unstick themselves from small town drudgery when a warlock (or demon) in the guise of Daryl Van Horne buys an old residence on the outskirts of town. I was sometimes conscious of a forced feeling to the writing, a sense of trying too hard and stumbling. That writing possesses a haunting rhyth ...more
I picked up this book because of a few great quotes I'd heard from it. I wasn't disappointed on that front: the prose was beautiful and intelligent.
However, the actual story was not. As so many people have said, this book reads like an old man trying to write a feminist book. While I love the idea of women being empowered by their bodies, the descriptions of this were sometimes cringeworthy - period cramps were exaggerated hugely, and the ability to give birth was portrayed as the be-all end-all
The abundance of John Updike obits and essays has inspired me to get around to reading the small percentage of his output (over 60 books!). I adored Witches of Eastwick. I have not seen the movie, but the way it has been described to me sounds so different tone and plot that my guess is you can read this book and have it feel completely fresh, without contamination from the movie.

I read Beck: A Book, and decided Updike was a brilliant male author at writing about men -- their existential crises
Carolina Dean
The Witches of Eastwick is another example of a great book being turned into a less than stellar movie. If you’re familiar with the movie, there’s a lot in this book that you’ll find familiar as well. Unlike the movie which was set in the late 1980’s, the book takes place in the fictional town of Eastwick, Rhode Island at the time of the Vietnam War. The story mainly concerns Alexandra, an artist; Jane, a cellist; and Sukie, a columnist. They are in the primes of their lives, each having either ...more
I really liked this in the eighties, and on rereading, Updike's language remains flawless. This early passage spoke to me, not only because my own tomatoes have been bounteously fruitful this summer.
ever since, two summers ago, Joe Marino had begun to come into her bed, a preposterous fecundity had overtaken the staked plants, out in the side garden where the southwestern sun slanted in through the line of willows each long afternoon. The crooked little tomato branches, pulpy and pale as if mad
In The Witches of Eastwick, Updike creatively augments the traditional powers ascribed to witches with the power to create thunderstorms (Alexandria), turn milk into cream (Sukie), and fly (Jane). Each witch's power is fitting of their creative professions, Alexandria a depressed sculptress of fat novelty clay women, Sukie the local gossip columnist, and Jane a concert cellist.

These creative pursuits symbolize a larger freedom shared in their status as single mothers. Their powers arrive as thei
I came into possession of a paperback copy of John Updike's 1984 novel "The Witches of Eastwick" at a Borders store in Burleson, Texas, on March 30 of this year, the bookstore closing its doors at the end of business that very day. There were a few half-filled bookshelves left in an otherwise empty interior. The books were 90% off, and I bought this $15 paperback for $1.50. Updike is worth full price; a bargain is even better.
The novel looks at the lives of three women with witch-like powers i
Lina K
I have just finished watching the last episode of short lived tv series "Eastwick" and it made me wonder about the ideas that the story explores.

I found some interesting reviews on this site and it brought back the memory of this book. I believe I read it a couple of years ago - I still remember how disappointing it was... In some way I could compare it to The Vanity Fair which I really didn't like - I am not sure I was able to even finish it (or maybe it was so disappointing that I don't even r
Overall, while reading John Updike’s book The Witches of Eastwick, I found myself disgusted and appalled. I expected a witty, entertaining story about a coven of witches, but was greatly disappointed. I’m not a prude or anti-feminist by any standards, but I felt like Updike was just trying to cover up any real writing style by including explicit sexual content. I found no purpose or deeper meaning in this book.

Now I’ve read that many have seen this work as an example of Updike as a feminist, bu
The Witches of Eastwick is a John Updike novel published in 1984 by Ballantine Books. Updike was a Harvard school graduate, and also attended the Ruskin school of Drawing and Fine Art. He was a member of the staff of The New Yorker for two years, and he has achieved the Pulitzer Prize for his novels. He died in 2009 at the age of 76.
Many have said that this novel by John Updike is “bewitching,” a play on words because the novel is about 3 witches. I think the word is clever, but perhaps misused
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The first 100 pages were insanely hard to get through. Honestly I kept falling asleep and I was reading this book in public in the middle of the day. The middle section was much more engaging but built towards a big "meh" of an ending. Much like in the last book I read, the philosophical ideas put forth in this book were much more interesting than the story itself.

This was another book that suffered from protagonists that were utterly unlikeable and unrelatable. Also, logistically, the way the w
Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane are witches who don’t have the best reputations around their small Rhode Island town. Alexandra is the one who harnesses the most power but she is also the one who can’t get over the feeling that she has cancer growing in her. When the rich Darryl Van Horne moves into a mansion, the three women become fixtures there, on his tennis court and in his hot tub. The four of them enjoy a special physical relationship, each woman thinking that she holds Van Horne’s affection. ...more
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I Read Therefore ...: October Spooky Read - The Witches of Eastwick 5 11 Oct 22, 2013 12:56AM  
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John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania) was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for hi ...more
More about John Updike...

Other Books in the Series

Eastwick (2 books)
  • The Widows of Eastwick (Eastwick, #2)
Rabbit, Run (Rabbit Angstrom, #1) Rabbit at Rest (Rabbit Angstrom, #4) Rabbit Is Rich (Rabbit Angstrom, #3) Rabbit Redux (Rabbit Angstrom, #2) Couples

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“Some people find fall depressing, others hate spring. I've always been a spring person myself. All that growth, you can feel Nature groaning, the old bitch; she doesn't want to do it, not again, no, anything but that, but she has to. It's a fucking torture rack, all that budding and pushing, the sap up the tree trunks, the weeds and the insects getting set to fight it out once again, the seeds trying to remember how the hell the DNA is supposed to go, all that competition for a little bit of nitrogen; Christ, it's cruel.” 33 likes
“Wickedness was like food: once you got started it was hard to stop; the gut expanded to take in more and more.” 13 likes
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