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The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
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Oct 04, 11


Some things are not what they seem to be...

Witches of Eastwick by John Updike. Puffin Classics, Kindle Edition.

The setting of the story is a town called Eastwick. There are three women: Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart, and Sukie Rougemont. These are no ordinary women. They are actually witches who gained their powers after their husbands mistreated them by leaving or making them leave. They can change the weather or physical objects. The witches make the men of the town their own sexual conquest. They cycle through them. Soon a new character is introduced. Darryl Van Horne moves into town cause a stir with the three witches. He definitely sparks a curiosity or perhaps an unconscious suspicion within the three witches. Darryl seduces all of the women at the same time and they all begin their “relationship” with him. However, girls will be girls. They all become jealous and want Darryl to pay more attention to them individually. The story plays out their “love” quarrels.
I decided to read this novel because I saw the movie when I was a child and I remembered John Updike from a short story called A&P. The book was well written, but I had my problems with it. From what I have read by John Updike I am getting the hint that he is a bit of a misogynist. A&P had the whole segments devoted to the girls in the bikinis. However, this book was more severe. These women were “witches”. They did not seem to have any redeeming qualities. All of them were sexually promiscuous, jealous and vindictive. They use their abilities for their own gain and interests. They end up hating Darryl’s new-younger girl and become very jealous. They use their magic on frivolous things like changing the weather so they could be the only one on the beach. They also want to have a more difficult game of tennis so they turn the balls into frogs. None of these characters garner any sympathy from the reader. Also, Updike cripples the women in this story by making them dependent on a man or men in general. They could be using magic to make their life better in some other way. However, all of their focus and abilities are concentrated on keeping Darryl for themselves or getting a different ideal man. I wonder if this is Updike’s real view of women.
The more that I think about it the more I start to dislike this book. Who wants to spend three hundred pages reading a book with worthless characters who completely downplay my gender. I hate watching movies or reading books were the character can’t seem to help themselves or be strong individuals. There is nothing more frustrating than observing spineless individuals. I should have remembered this from the movie and spared myself the pain. However, if I remember correctly, the movie was very different from the novel.
I don’t want to completely trash the book. I really like the way that Updike writes. He does tell a story. I just did not enjoy the subject matter of the novel.
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