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The Witches of Eastwick

(Eastwick #1)

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  13,806 ratings  ·  1,117 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 Random House Trade (first published 1984)
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Ellen Amato
Nov 10, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of John Updike is The Witches of Eastwick and based on 111 pages, it's going to take Elizabeth Montgomery wiggling her nose for me to pick up one of the author's books again. Published in 1984, this literature is set in a quaint Rhode Island town (described down to the flowers or carpeting) where three bewitching women (described down to their facial features and dialects) become involved with a brutish bachelor named Darryl Van Horne. Some might even say he's the ...more
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

U, is for Updike.

1 I would like to go back and never purchase this Star

It’s not you it’s me! You know what?! It IS you, it is 100% YOU, Updike!! This book is AWFUL!!

There are so many attempts to make this book edgy that it came off entirely underwhelming. I mean, it took me over 2 months just to finish it for fuck’s sake! A 300 page novel… two months?! That is actually unheard of, for me!! I found every reason under the sun (of which there has been lots these last two months) to not read this

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:
I'm generally a fan of Updike's writing, despite its tendency to flirt with misogyny, but this novel of his is barely readable. Conceptually, it was a fascinating idea, and I can only assume it was the concept, rather than the actual novel, that triggered the idea for the movie.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-books
I wish I loved anything as much as John Updike loved the sight of his own words on the page.

The Witches of Eastwick has A Point To Make about the role of women in white, middle class, 1960s America. And it makes this point by embracing one of history's oldest conceits: independent women are evil. They're witches. And while the magical divorcées of Eastwick aren't burned at the stake of accused of turning young men into toads, they come close to the mid-twentieth-century version thereof. Accused
Apr 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013, fiction, male-author
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Luís C.
It tells us a slice of life of three divorced mothers who grow their emancipation (which often looks like carelessness) in their small hometown of Rhode Island and the milestones that occur within it. We are in the era of the Vietnam War, the mood and mindset which then prevailed in America. A mysterious eccentric who settled nearby just messing up their lives. Oh, these 3 women practice witchcraft. This is something very present throughout the novel. Nevertheless, I would characterize the conte ...more
May 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
this is a book in which characters look in the mirror to see how good-looking they are (particularly to admire their voluptuous breasts, or the breasts of their friends). it is also a book in which john updike tries to write feminist characters but succeeds only in building up a group of women who hate each other, who hate their children, who hate other women, and who are idly superior to the men.

Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Artemis Slipknot
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Είχα υψηλότερες προσδοκίες από αυτό το βιβλίο! Δεν έχει κάτι ιδιαίτερο, ούτε κάτι σκοτεινό, ούτε ιδιαίτερη μαγεία. Ένα πολύ χλιαρό βιβλίο.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aside from Updike's beautiful writing, there is not much to recommend the book when you have the option of watching the much better, George Miller-directed movie. While the movie focuses on female friendship and how it's affected by a f*ck-boy, the book introduces a coven of women who have a love-hate relationship with their sexuality and each other.

Mind you the movie isn't perfect, but at least it lacks Updile's weird way of bringing body fluids and odors into focus one too many times.
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
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the writing in this book, but as a whole it left me feeling kind of unsettled and ambiguous. I think what ultimately bothered me was the way that the witches, who had been hurt by men, seemed to spend all their time using magic against other women. That was probably the point, but it's sort of one of those things that's been pointed out so often that I've ceased to find it very compelling or clever. I'd be interested in other peoples' thoughts on this book, though.
SoManyBooks SoLittleTime (Aven Shore)
I was so young when I read this. I thought it was very strange at the time. But much of it stuck with me, including the mental images of Cher and Jack Nicholson, despite never seeing the movie!
Amanda Lyons
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As many people know from the movie, this is a book about three witches in a small town and what happens when a mysterious and inexplicably (largely because he's clearly a bit of a jackass) charming man comes to town. Each of them is a different woman, one mother goddess artist, one a dissatisfied but passionate musician, and the other a light-hearted fluffy soul who has a gossip column at the local paper. Mostly with this plot we're seeing what would happen if the divorced ladies of town found ...more
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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)
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
All the amazing Updike prose in the world couldn't make up for this gross book full of wretched characters.
Jun 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Ugh. Initially, I kept reading this book because I expected something interesting to happen. Finally, about 170 pages into the book, something did, and then for some reason, I kept on reading, partly because I'm stubborn and partly because I was compelled the way people are compelled to gaze at the scene of car accidents as they drive by.

Overall, this book is a disappointment. The three witch characters are unlikeable and even deplorable. In once scene, one of the women kills a squirrel for no
Originally, I told myself I'd give this book to the 10% mark to grab me, and then I'd DNF it. I did make it to 40%! But as I reflected on it this weekend, I realized I still couldn't say I was actually enjoying it at all on pretty much any level. Time to cut my losses.

Turn-Offs, in order of irritation:
- a male author writing female characters rhapsodizing about their newfound embrace of womanhood as they got older, got divorced, became witches. Bold move, Cotton. WORSE, there were 2 different pl
Lina K
Jun 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
I have no idea why I'm rating this 2 stars, to be honest. I did NOT think Witches was ok. I thought it warped, fucked up story of three supposedly powerful women. Supposedly powerful, because they're witches. They're witches because they were left or they left their husbands. What they do with the power is spend the entire freaking book trying to catch another man. They aren't even discerning, anyone will do. And mostly they go with men who are already married, usually to women who're so bad the ...more
So firstly, this bares as little in common with its film adaptation as 'The Stepford Wives' soooo... not a lot. Unfortunately this isn't the boon you might think it is.

Set in the sixties and with certain feminist (or attempted feminist) undertones it does actually have a certain The Stepford Wives vibe at times, mixed with the The Master and Margarita perhaps. However its far inferior to either of those.

Its main problem is that nothing happens... i mean Nothing! There was a few moments of intere
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Roderick Vincent
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
A big disappointment after reading Terrorist. InTerrorist, Updike had such a firm grip on his characters, whereas here, I felt they fell through his fingers. The Witches of Eastwick proves that good writing doesn't necessarily equal good story. While some of the scenes were well done in terms of witchcraft (Alexandra on the beach conjuring up a storm), opportunities were squandered. Instead of pursuing the art of witchcraft and all sorts of potential conflicts with the characters, half of the ti ...more
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John Hoyer Updike 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 his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more

Other books in the series

Eastwick (2 books)
  • The Widows of Eastwick (Eastwick #2)
“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.” 58 likes
“Wickedness was like food: once you got started it was hard to stop; the gut expanded to take in more and more.” 24 likes
More quotes…