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 of Updike’s delightful, ominous sequel.
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, having published 22 novels and more than a dozen short story collections as well as poetry, literary criticism and children's books. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems have appeared in The New Yorker since the 1950s. His works often explore sex, faith, and death, and their inter-relationships.
Updike's apparent fascination with possible body odor emanating from his characters' nether regions was enough to make me feel a little queasy. After one particularly odd scene of an old lady's behind in someone's face that may or may not have stunk, I slammed the book shut and stared at Updike's picture in despair. Why, oh why did you have to make me read that, John? What did I ever do to you?
So I took a deep breath, composed myself and plunged through the book as quickly as possible, secretly terrified that I would be forced to endure another visual whiff of old lady genitalia. The slap in the face was the anti-climactic ending. The least he could've done was write a good finish line.
I wonder why this book only gets 2.9 stars from Goodread.
After the messy events in The Witches of Eastwick, the three witches: Alex, Jane and Sukie were more or less forced to leave town. Now 30 years later, the three women had already aged and widowed, so they decided to travel around the world and then went back to Eastwick to spend a summer there. But after going back to Eastwick, they soon realized after so many years, not everyone in the small town had forgotten what the witches had done in the past.
First, I have to tell you DO NOT expect a lot of fancy witchcraft or magic display when you read this book, The Widows of Eastwick is more about old age, the loss of youth, beauty and health, facing your past mistakes and guilt, and about how to deal with life itself than about supernatural stuff.
The first part of the book deals with the trio's travel to Egypt and then China, there're a lot of interactions among the aged three witches. After they went back to Eastwick, the story is more focused on Alex and how she reconnected with her estranged daughter and then faced what she and her sister witches had done in the past. But don't worry, you are not going to see any "Oh my daughter I miss you so much!" or 'Oh I was such a sinner I need to make peace with all my victims!' soap opera here. The witches would not forsaken their pride and maturity to please the readers anyway.
Meanwhile, Alex's sister witches Jane and Sukie were busy meeting up with ex-lovers, old friends and foes; with this part I must confess I like how John Updike described the change of Eastwick and its people, how he described old age and what went through the mind of those old gentlemen and ladies.
The three witches were still partly unlikable and they still could be selfish at times, but old age and time had boarded their view and given them more wisdom and insight; I'm also delighted to find the witches seem to have more things in their mind than men and sex, unlike when they were 30 years younger. Therefore, Despite the witches are (partly) unlikable and flawed, I still found the witches interesting to read and their stories keep me reading no matter what. And do you remember J K. Rowling's novel The Casual Vacancy? Comparing with what Rowling had done (or failed to do) with The Casual Vacancy, Mr. Updike really did show a lot more wit, sense of humor, understanding on human natural and how relationships work among different individuals.
Mr. Updike never drew a clear definition to define witch in his books, he merely said the witches came to realize they had the power after moving to Eastwick and they believed in their magical power other than their motherhood nor their wifely duties, which eventually made them witches. So exactly what makes a woman a witch in his mind?
After reading two books, I guess witches are women who live for their desire and needs instead of social norms; who answer the call of Nature, who are unafraid to be connected with the ever-changing, chaotic and destructive power of Nature. Perhaps that's what make those women witches.
But people might ask: but did Mr. Updike really understands women and old women so well?, my answer is unluckily the voice of his female characters do sound forced and a bit unnatural at times, still I can forgive those minor flaws.
To sum up, it's an enjoyable, delightful read, I really like this book even more than I like The Witches of Eastwick.
So when I clicked the "read" option to bookshelf this poor excuse of a novel, I ending up wishing there was an option saying, "I gave up on this piece of shit nearly 95 pages into it because it was an even MORE watered-down version of Updike's alleged 'feminism' found in The Witches of Eastwick."
I wanted to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, hoping that perhaps after 25 years he might have evolved past the Silent Generation's warped social views, and maybe even better redeemed the horrible "feminist" women portrayed in the first book.
The only enjoyment I got out of this book was showing my colleagues his picture on the back-flap portion of the novel. At first I thought I was deplorable to enjoy a laugh at his expense..."The poor guy's not a looker. I'm being shallow." But then I figured I'm allowed to be just as catty as the bitchy, grudge-holding women he writes about.
Having read the first book (and seen the movie), I'm disappointed in this sequel. Putting aside my feelings on the characters and their adventures in the first novel, this book on its own has a very weak "plot" and a poor structure.
Once upon a time, Alex, Jane and Sukie were best friends living in a small town in Rhode Island, dabbling both in sorcery and seduction of their neighbours. Thirty years on, they have gone their separate ways, found love and subsequently lost it, which leads to their current position as the titular Widows. Unfortunately, the introduction to the entire story (and a rather large chunk of it) is spent following first Alex, then Alex and Jane, and finally the entire trio, as they traipse around various world locales listening to (and forcing the reader to endure) history lessons about foreign cultures. Most of this part of the story read like a lecture; I might have enjoyed it more if I had purchased a book called The Encyclopedia of Eastwick. The real shame in this is that the examination of history and culture dwarfs the relationships of the women; a casual phone call after nearly three decades, presented as a rather distant ten-minute conversation, leads to an almost immediate rekindling of friendship and an agreement to travel the world together.
There is little emotional depth behind the reasons these women want to resume their friendship, and this sense of unease amongst them pervades the entire book. This was a lacking on behalf of the characters in the first novel which seems to have grown even worse here, in that they are so jealous and petty and vicious - even with one another - that you sometimes wonder why they are friends at all. The answer seems to be that they, as witches, are snobs. They would rather their trio, bitter as it is, than the morally upright and therefore common people by whom they are surrounded. Not all friendships can be perfect, but the glue which held these women together in Witches - which, they underline here, involved their shared gripes about children and schoolteachers, local gossips, the banality of Eastwick and the puritanical townspeople - is gone in Widows. I would not want to read about three people who don't like one another very much travelling the world together any more than I would care to actually travel with them.
The book reads, overall, as though Updike wanted to revisit the world of Eastwick but did not quite know how to do it, which is where the structure seems so strange. After much of the story is spent watching the widows flit from place to place, ruminating on their former lives and how every crease, odor, lump, bruise and wrinkle has turned them into shadows of their former selves, there is a sudden (and almost unexpected) introduction of some danger for the women in the form of a character from the first book who returns intent on getting revenge. However, it is hard to care much about any of the womens' fates when they seem to care about one another's so little. Overall, the book reads like a series of small adventures - first, into the travels of the three main characters, and then into their attempts to each repair some wrong they feel they have caused in the lives of those around them. The attempts to tie this all together with the return of the dangerous character seems almost like an afterthought.
With regards to prose, Widows works very well in some places and suffers in many others; there are sentences and passages which are overlong and complicated. The characters have a bad habit of all speaking in the same voice, uttering run-on sentences designed to give the reader backstory but making them all sound like they are reading from the same expository text.
Mostly an examination on how much getting old sucks, there is very little to enjoy in revisiting the world of the witches of Eastwick. Anyone who has read the first book may well be disappointed by this sequel, and anyone picking this up having only seen the film will find almost nothing familiar about their adventures - or any fun.
I discovered that Updike had written a sequel to "The Witches of Eastwick" one day while I was at the library, reading the original book, which frustrated me, as did its movie adaptation. As I write this, all of the movie's cast are still alive, so when I checked out the book's sequel, I had this notion that the book would have me imagine a sequel to the movie that could still be made. But the original Eastwick novel and movie are so different and end so vastly differently, that this sequel would make no sense in relation to the film. I remember thinking that I probably wouldn't finish the sequel if it was at all frustrating at the start.
Imagine my surprise as I immediately enjoyed "The Widows of Eastwick" far more than its original. Even more surprising (and a reason why others may not enjoy this book as much as I did), this book often feels more like an old lady's travelogue. (In my teens, I read all of the Fletch novels, and it felt like every other one of those was more of a travelogue than a mystery, which I preferred much less to the more mystery/story-driven books.) It felt like Updike's style read better this time, and perhaps he was writing more about what he knew, as this was his last published book in 2008 and he died a year later. He was writing about characters in their 70s while he was in his 70s.
Why did this book move me so much? It was probably the mortality of the characters that I had liked more than their original story. I was very invested in the characters, and it probably didn't hurt that my parents are also in their 70s now. Early when I started reading (thankfully I didn't read the book flap and went in knowing nothing), I wondered if the story would even return to Eastwick or if certain characters would pop up again, as I was so happy with just a story about the witches' renewed friendship and world travels. If I had had my questions answered back when I first started, I might have been disappointed, and to tell you the truth, I became quite terrified in the second half of the book that Updike was making another wrong turn in the story of the witches that would greatly disappoint me. However, it ended up being very thrilling, and the painful moments were not disappointing, and I cried a number of times while reading in public and at home. I finished last night and cried myself to sleep. Five stars!
If we were to make a movie of this sequel, it would really need a new "Witches of Eastwick" movie to build off of, which I know would be blasphemous; how could anyone remake a movie with such a perfect cast?! And my problem would be I don't even want to see that remake... I just really like this sequel!
This got abysmal reviews when it was first published, but when I saw a hardcover copy for $5 at my local independent bookstore (Taylor Books) I snapped it up (tangent: when I got it home I noticed it has what appears to be the small box with numbers on the back of the dust jacket, which usually means a book club book....how do those get to stores? Remaindered? Something else?).
Anyway, enjoyed it more than I thought I might, given those reviews. I LOVED The Witches of Eastwick and generally enjoy Updike (however, sadly, my visual images of the women have now become those of Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer from the movie version, which do not at all match up with the physical descriptions in the books). Here, Updike and the witches have aged, and it's not always pretty, but it's probably pretty accurate, both for the women and the writer. Alexandra, Jane and Sukie are now in their late sixties/early seventies, I think. Not elderly, but getting there. They have all recently become widows (natch) and they reconnect and the story is really one about aging and last grasps at what came before.
As a childless woman I always admired the way the Witches were not at all defined by their children (as so many in today's books are, but Updike nearly always avoids that...perhaps because he's a man?) and that continues here, but even I was a bit surprised at the relative disdain all the women have for their adult children and grandchildren. Or maybe that's typical, how would I know? They all do seem pretty irritating if not downright loathsome. The Witches themselves are presented realistically - Updike doesn't so much care if you LIKE them, he wants you to RECOGNIZE them, I thought, and I appreciated that. The infirmities of the aging body are depressing, but, again, ring true. Overall, worth reading for Updike fans.
I've got 50 pages to go. It's better than most of reviews it received gave it credit for ... but it's not nearly as good as "The Witches of Eastwick" - the original appearance of these 3 ladies. I am always compelled to read the "new Updike" (as I am "the new Roth"), and I've noticed in his last few novels he has developed a penchant to referencing his characters' (who are mostly aging, as he is) body odors. The widows are all three of them obsessed at times with how they smell and how they think others smell them! And it's mostly the unpleasant stuff that issues forth from the nether parts.
In general I am enjoying this book. But not as much as I remember enjoying the first one. Is Updike a misogynist? That's the key accusation made by his critics. About this I am not sure. I'm waiting to finish before I make that call on this one. But I think maybe he's whatever the word is for someone who doesn't like the elderly and aging. His own aging, especially. And he takes it out on his characters, who in this case happen to be women. Well, I'm not finished reading so ...
25 years later, and possibly more racist, misogynistic and homophobic that the first book. I suppose it’s impressive, in a very depressing way. Sadly, Updike appears not to have taken the opportunity over the quarter century since he last wrote about these characters to speak to even one woman. Similarly, he chose not to listen to all the readers who tried to explain to him the difference between a novel and an unsolicited lecture.
I first read the Witches of Eastwick back in the year 1984. This is the follow up book to that. The 3 witches EVENTUALLY get back together and travel to Eastwick for the summer.
The witches are Jane (serious, mean, cello player who marries into a rich New England Nathaniel Hawthorne sort of family), Sukie (an attractive redhead who worked for the town paper and was into the town business in more ways than one) and the third I can't recall, but she is the fat pretty brunette who neglects her kids and marries a cowboy and moves to New Mexico where they become potters and work in the dusty dessert-scape with the dry brown colors of the earth.
It wasn't easy to recall the first book but the way the author writes this book, referring to parts of the first book, it made it easy to follow the story.
It was a bit overlong but I liked it and found it entertaining. However, a few days after reading it, I felt blue and depressed cause his message is quite dreary and sad and basically says when our reproductive services are done, so are we, according to nature. (No mention of a divine plan here). So it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, I guess you could say.
Back to the story: the original witches were most likely in their late 30's, early 40's. We pick up now with the witches in their 70's and their power is waning (sexual power that is).
The book brings back the gay young man with the grudge against the witches for killing his sister in Book 1 and the young stud that Sukie (?) seduced back in the day (now, gasp, she realizes the "young" man is only 11 years younger, practically a contemporary.).
Honestly, the book sort of meanders all over the place, starting with fat brunette travelling after the death of her spouse, realizing she needs company, hooking up with Jane to travel to Egypt and then finally they add Sukie (making 3 travellers) and then they end up back in Eastwick, Rhode Island, (where book 1 was set and they committed their mis-deeds). Eastwick is now a place which is not too welcoming towards the once scandalous witches.
The plot was mostly about the end of life, the waning of the witches' power and how Nature is gentler on men than it is on women. The women connect with their children and forge relationships, realizing that life goes on through their children and grandchildren. Nothing too profound that hasn't been said many times before, in fact, sometimes in better ways.
I might add that Updike's powers as a novelist appear to be waning in HIS old age cause quite frankly, the book is ok but nothing to write home about.
From amazon.com: Book Description Publication Date: October 14, 2008 More than three decades after the events described in The Witches of Eastwick, Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie—widowed, aging, and with their occult powers fading—return for the summer to the Rhode Island town where they once made piquant scandal and sometimes deadly mischief. But what was then a center of license and liberation is now a “haven of wholesomeness” populated by hockey moms and househusbands primly rebelling against their absent, reckless, self-involved parents. With spirits still free but energy waning, the three women reconstitute their coven to confront not only this youthful counterspell of propriety but also the enmity of those longtime townsfolk who, through their youthful witchery, they irreparably harmed. In this wise and wicked satire on the way we make peace with our pasts, John Updike proves himself a wizard on every page.
I found this book at my local library. I actually needed an author that last name began with U so I chose this one. I have not read the first book or seen the movie; it happened to be on TV as I was reading the book but to be honest, it did not hold my attention so I did not watch all of it. The book was about three ageing women/ witches trying to go back to Eastwick. Things have changed as one finds when they return to the past. The book was OK and maybe because I am in my 70s, it was somewhat a little depressing. I did like the characters. I felt there were too many happenings in the book but I did enjoy the travels and descriptions. I never got to Egypt but have been to China to see the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors. I will give it a 3 star for my rating. Leona Olson www.mnleona.blogspot.com
The witches of Eastwick thirty years later, now widowed, on the other side of second marriages, far away from sex and witchery, reunite first in world travel and then back in Eastwick itself. Once in Eastwick, they discover that certain echoes from their earlier mischief live on and eventually entice them to return to witchcraft and, in Sukie's case, sex. But somehow this book never quite rang true to me. Much of the travelogue was well-written but seemed here to be filler (gotta get 300 pages!). Plus, Updike is not always convincing, at least to this ear, when he plants himself inside a female mind . . . although how would I know? Do women really think and talk about sex this way? Or is this how men wished they thought and talked about sex? Finally, witches don't do it for me . . . and the long explanations of Christopher's mysterious power over electrons get tedious. Hey, if you want to have a character who can mysteriously shock people, that's fine, but don't give a lengthy pseudo-scientific theory about how this is done (especially one that involves old panties). Don't know quite why I've always liked Roth so much and felt so uncomfortable with Updike. Two talented writers of the same generation, both from the world of the eastern seaboard, but somehow two very different sensitivities (one Jewish, one Waspish, to be sure, but I think there is something more than just that). Ideas welcome.
This is really a 3.75, but I like Updike enough to give him the full 4 stars. I read this in about 2 days (while I should have been studying.)
I think _Widows_ illustrates some of what is so compelling--and so dirty--about Updike. To a younger reader, there's a certain horror in learning how little the widows care for their children, how disposable their husbands were, and how attached they are to both husbands and children nonetheless. Is this what aging is like?
There's a wonderful olfactory quality in the story; I completely understood what Lexa's daughter's house smelled like, and Joe Marino's family's home, too. There's just enough relevant New England detail in Eastwick this time around to seem authentic.
Perhaps what's most unsettling is seeing the present through characters we last heard from during the late sixties. _Widows_ rehearses some of what was so compelling in the _Rabbit_ novels for me, in this way. This is not the best of Updike, as far as I'm concerned. I agree that the story seems uneven, like it veers off into the future somehow. Not unlike _In Cold Blood_, in that way. Even so, that seems apt for these characters. They succeed us.
OK, it's not as brilliant and tight as the first book, but I take exception to all the rather tiresome reviews going on and on about what a sexist Updike was, how much he loathed women, etc. - bullshit: he was a gimlet-eyed misanthrope, but not particularly meanspirited about it: EVERYone gets skewered at some level, but most everyone also has well-sketched human qualities. The characters seema as real and well-limned as ever - the man was a keen observer of human motivation and interior life as well as public mores, and, well, since I'm a good deal older than when I read the first book, re-encountering our (anti-?)heroines at a more advanced age made a good deal more sense than it would have when I was in my 20s. Like Updike or don't (personally, I find the "Rabbit" books unreadably dull, but that's because I fail to connect with the character, though he's undoubtedly well-written...the New England WASPy & waspish satirist in Updike never ceases to appeal to me), but simply dismissing him as a sexist is a cheap copout.
The Witches of Eastwick was one of my favorite guilty pleasures of the eighties, but this years-removed sequel just doesn't measure up. The Widows, now thirty years older, attempt to reunite beneath the cone of power they had used to upend Eastwick in their youth, but it just never comes together for me. At times the writing is great, especially as the widows tour the world together, but at other times it drags. Maybe witchcraft is best left in the hands of the young.
I see this book gets an average rating of 2.95 stars, the lowest of any book I’ve read. I get it, nothing much happens for the first half of the book except catching up on the lives of the three witches in the 30 years since we met them. I’m giving it 4 stars because Updike’s writing (this was his last book), his descriptions of people and scenery and emotion are so incredibly well done, so subtle and nuanced, reading him is like watching highlight clips of Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Serena Williams. You don’t need to know the context, you just watch/read and think good lord, this is graceful and beautiful and sublime.
The sex positive witches get back together, this time withered, more cutting and less interesting. That also describes Updike's writing. Unlike the Witches of Eastwick, this is insipid, not particularly playful and the language is not particularly beautiful. It was just a ploddingness that brooded over something which might be called a story.
First of all let me say, I never read the first book, although I did see the movie. This book is nothing like the movie, but then again, I have heard the first book is nothing like the movie either. In my mind, I kept seeing the actresses (Cher, Susan Serandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer.) As much as I enjoyed the writing, it took a while to get into, as it sometimes had long sentences, and even longer paragraphs. Once I picked up the flow, it wasn’t too bad. I found it to be well researched, but sometimes the details bogged down the story, and I found them distracting without adding much (the history, science, and even the romance novel at the end…) I thought sometimes these felt like filler. And in the end, it just seemed to stop. I never felt much wrap up, or conclusion. Maybe he was leaving it open for more, but I’m not sure how much room there is to continue the story, as I believe the ladies to be in their 80’s. And without spoiling anything, I felt the ending should have been all or nothing, and it was half way (you’ll have to read the book to understand that, or if you have, tell me if you agree.)
Now with that said, I really enjoyed the language of the piece. It was an amusing little story to follow along, and very much had the same feeling I expected (sense of humor, ect.) Though I could not necessarily relate to these women, it was an interesting journey to take with them, and there were enough side stories to keep me engrossed. And I feel the author did a good job, keeping me up with what was going on, despite the fact that I never read the first, I never felt lost. All in all, despite the little things that got under my skin (I know, my own personal pet peeves) I found this story a fairly pleasant way to spend my time. I may even have to go back and pick up the first one day. =D
The Widows of Eastwick is John Updike's last published book (he died January 27th, 2009 of lung cancer)and just because it was his last book, that in itself is worth the read. I love Updike's short story, "A&P" but haven't had the pleaure of reading any of his novels -- "Widows" was my first foray into Updikeland. I enjoyed his tangents about aging, loss and decreptitude. These are all surely issues that were on his mind as he was sick with lung cancer. The book, however, is mostly a self-indulgent mess without any real plot or point. But, because it's Updike, there are memorable lines such as this one, "We all are swaying on the makeshift rope bridge that society suspends above the crevasse." Updike spends a unnecessary amount of time detailing two of the witches (now widows) worldwide travels in the Canadian Rockies, China and in Egypt -- when are we going to get on with the story? The plot then reunites the three: Alexandra, the oldest and fattest, Jane, the meanest, and Sukie the sweetest. They share a condo at Darryl Van Horne's old residence (I was very disappointed that Darryl didn't make an appearance in this sequel) and try to start up their old tricks without their age slowing them down. And their age does slow them down. The youngest, Sukie, is in her late 60s and Alexandra is 74. The antagonist in this book is not so much the town or society, but rather death and how the witches fear it because they know they haven't made peace with what they've done.
To me this novel was merely OK - 2.5 out of 5. May Updike be remembered for his many other creative works.
"How quickly, Alexandra thought, they had slipped back into being a trio, a trinity coming together to form a cone of power. It was not that she like the other two women better than her leathery, bohemian, long-haired, jeans-clad female friends in Taos - comparatively, Sukie and Jane had narrow, Northeastern horizons - but in their company she felt more powerful, more deeply appreciated, more positively enjoyed. They had known her at the height of her desirability, in a society that, isolated from urban narcissism and yet partaking of the sex-centered excitement of the times, had valued desirability above all else." P. 90
The first 3/5 of the book is individual sketches of the widows dealing with the memories of their dead husbands, separately, via mail and in exotic travels to Egypt and China. During this time the author is full of references to the first book, their previous time together. I felt like I was not part of the club as I have not read The Witches of Eastwick or seen the movie.
At last the get together in Eastwick. What they each want to accomplish and how that works out fills the remainder of the book.
I found all these women incredibly narcissistic and stuck in their pasts. There was no humor to speak of in the book and from my experience the things that bothered them were more 'what a man would like to think that women are bothered by' than any realistic account of a widow's world.
Just re-read Witches and was excited to keep it going with Widows, but no. Updike's writing drags in a lot of places and honestly this book felt like an old man's fist-shaking "get those kids off my lawn" diatribe but filtered through familiar characters. The theme of getting older and losing your sense of the world is valid but the writing is so slow and whiny that it's hard to get into it.
Besides the slow pace, the extra babbling descriptors make the conversation so stilted that there have to be several disclaimers in each paragraph to remind you who's speaking. Which is extra annoying when the three women travel the world and there's endless pages of descriptions of places that honestly feel like the author had never been there. Everything was written like a travel brochure. Boring. And it's not just a few pages or a chapter, it's 2/3 of the book.
I can't recommend this book to anyone. Enjoy Witches and then put it away.
In the first half of the book, nothing happens, it's all character re-development using the device of a series of travelogues. It's like reading "What I Did on My Last Three Summer Vacations," by John Updike. Elegantly written, as you'd expect, but no action whatsoever.
The second half of the book is completely different, as the widows return to Eastwick, only to learn how much it, and they, have changed. But traces of witchiness remain, and even as benign as Eastwick seems to have become, the town may not be entirely safe for them...
If you enjoyed "Witches," you'll probably enjoy reconnecting with Alexandra, Sukie, and Jane again after all these years. You may be disappointed by the pacing, especially early on, but I can't imagine any intelligent reader being entirely disappointed with anything that John Updike wrote.
This book was not very good at all and reminded me of why I never read more than one of his other books. It didn't seem like he had much to say so he had to fill in with a travelogue, physics lessons, gratuitous sex, and even a pathetic bodice ripper. It gets my goat when men presume to write from the perspective of women (a notable exception being the author of The Last Living Confederate War Widow Tells All). He did not hit the right notes to make the characters come alive and I didn't like any of them anyway. The description of a town as being "the dirty fingernail at the end of a finger lake" was good the first time but he used it twice more. Updike must have wanted to put closure to his witches'/widows' stories before he died but it doesn't read like he knew where he was going or that he really had anything much to add.
This story was interesting enough, but not quite a good as Witches of Eastwick. The beginning rambled on about foreign trips some of the witches took alone, and with each other. It was quite a wait till we got to Eastwick again.
It was nice to have them reunited in town and shown all the changes that happened over the years but there wasn't much magic, unlike the previous book.
However, all this being said, I really enjoyed the story. The personalities of all the women were all quite different, even though I thought Jane was a complete crab this time around.
So, this story was a nice closure for the tale that began years before. I'm sorry there won't be anymore tales of Jane, Alex and Suki. And I can't help but fantasize about a book that would have closed the gap between the two time periods. That would have been awesome. But, alas, is not to be.
I'll repeat my review of "Witches of Eastwick", because I felt about the same:
Updike's voice is there, his excellent writing, the wit, but this one didn't grab me as some of his other, more personal dramas have. Maybe I didn't like the writing for a cast instead of an individual. Maybe it is just that the witches seemed pretty much one note, and not one that I can identify with.
This one felt a bit odd and I didn't much like it until the end. I liked the "humanity" of the ending, although I didn't like the characters involved all that much.
I had to relegate this book to the dark, Pit of Despair. Reading Updike is hard. Sentences go on for pages, thoughts could last entire volumes. I know he was one of the Great American Writers. I don't dispute that. I just didn't like this book. The first one was okay, and I forged through. But I've decided that life is too short for bad fiction and now I am not feeling so badly about not finishing books. The POD is getting bigger all the time!
Not exactly Updike's masterpiece, The Widows of Eastwick is an enjoyable sequel to its famous predecessor and I admit it was delightful to spend time with Suki, Alex, and Jane again. Keeping with my no spoilers policy, I will not go any further into the plot except to say that if you enjoyed Witches of Eastwick, this is a nice coda to that story.
Updike revisits his heroines from The Witches of Eastwick bringing them 30 years into the present. It took me about 100 pages to get into this book but even then it was still only okay. I doubt I'll read anything else by this author