Celery's Reviews > The Witches of Eastwick

The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
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Mar 28, 2009

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Read in March, 2009

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 Jack...you gotta love him), and the game of tennis. Okay, maybe some other stuff too, but not much. This novel is to its movie what Wicked by Gregory Maguire is to its musical. Deep and Dark vs. Warm and Fuzzy.

That being said, it was still a good book. Something darker that takes all our faults (physical or otherwise) and displays them right out in the light. A view from the other side of the fence, you know, the side where the people we all judge live. Here are these people, and they're doing these "bad" things, and look, here are the reasons they do them. Not really good reasons, but still reasons. And then, how they feel afterwards. The way Updike writes (or wrote...we lost a great writer this year) you can put yourself in their shoes...I don't think I have ever heard -or will ever hear again- a better justification for a woman who sleeps with married men. Still not totally justified, but with this explanation, you have to say, "Yeah, I can see that." Reminds me a little of Watchmen...people with powers are still people after all, with all the character flaws, but maybe natural reactions are harder to suppress, like picking up a Faberge egg with super strength. Super powers don't come with super control. Wishing the barking dog across the street would just shut up and die doesn't end with a dead dog, but if it did...would you be able to control yourself at two in the morning during a bout of insomnia and menstrual cramps?

Updike's descriptives were really potent and he seemed to have a pretty good idea of how the female brain operates even if he didn't present us in the best light. So, over all a pretty good read, even though the ending of the book really makes the feminist in me go, "What!?!" But my feminist side is pretty small so I'll have to read The Widows of Eastwick to see what Mr. Updike had in mind for us (I mean the characters...see what I mean about putting yourself in their shoes?) 26 years later.

Favorite quote, "It was nice to have yourself known by a man; it was getting to be known that was embarrassing: all that self-conscious verbalization over too many drinks, and then the bodies revealed with the hidden marks and sags like disappointing presents at Christmastime. But how much of love, when you thought about it, was not of the other but of yourself naked in his eyes: of that rush, that little flight, of shedding your clothes, and being you at last."
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