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The Widows of Eastwick: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

John Updike
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Three decades after the original release of Updike's The Witches of Eastwick comes this follow-up featuring the same depressed, divorced and devilish ladies of the original. This time around the women are, naturally, widows who travel the world searching for happiness and ultimately find themselves back in Eastwick. Kate Reading gives a powerful and entertaining performance, capturing the essence of each character with equally driven intensity and passion. The flawless Reading is especially captivating in her role as witch Sukie. Though Updike's writing may not possess the same power that it had in the original, Reading keeps listeners focused on the present and yearning for more in the future. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, July 28). (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

If it weren't for the popular film version (1987), it's not certain that The Witches of Eastwick—playful rather than powerful like the Rabbit novels and accused by some of misogynist leanings—would have remained as popular as it did. Yet, despite lukewarm reviews, those who enjoyed that first novel may find something to like in this sequel. Widows resurrects the fun of the original, and Updike is, as usual, a master stylist with sharp, sensual writing. Some critics, however, were thrown off by the contrived premise, the initial aimless travelogue, and the sappy subplots. A few even suggested that Updike doesn't adequately understand women's aging, though the New York Times argued that the witches are most compellingly understood as ordinary women. In sum, Widows is a mixed bag, best enjoyed by readers curious to see where Updike's brand of feminism has landed him 25 years later.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 1157 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001BAGVZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,516 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
(3.5 stars) Thirty years after Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie worked their black magic on their enemies in Eastwick, Rhode Island, earning the enmity of many of its citizens, they decide to return to Eastwick for a summer vacation. The three women have all been widowed, and they have not had much contact during the thirty year interim. Reconnecting initially through letters and phone calls, the women have traveled to international destinations during the previous two summers--first, a trip by Alexandra and Jane to Egypt, and the following year, a trip by all three to China. Though all of them have changed, they look forward to their return to Eastwick, partly out of curiosity and partly out of guilt for the death of Jenny Gabriel, the young bride of Darryl Van Horne, who had had affairs with all three "witches."

Their return to Eastwick is shocking to its inhabitants. Taking the only summer rental they can find--at the former Van Horne mansion, now condos--they discover that the town has changed, not surprisingly, and many of the people they knew there are now dead. "Eastwick's lost its messy charm," Jane notes. "There's something unfriendly out there," she believes. When they discover that Christopher Gabriel is in town, they know that this "disciple" of Darryl Van Horne, who is also the brother of Jenny Gabriel, will bring about a showdown that may cost them their lives.

Updike's prose often sparkles, filled with the figurative language he has made a trademark, and his tone keeps the reader amused and interested. The dialogue is often wooden, however, as he sometimes uses it to provide essential background information while attempting to advance the action.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hex and Sex January 18, 2009
"Years ago we grabbed what we wanted from the town and then left. Now we've returned to give something back." So avows Alexandra, one of the three Witches of Eastwick who have transformed, through no unnatural spell, into three aging Widows of Eastwick, the title characters of John Updike's latest charm. The Widows were once-upon-a-time (in the early 70s) thirty-something divorcees dabbling in the dark arts, tasting the Devil's fruit in their sleepy Rhode Island hamlet. Time has since worked its strange alchemy. Now they are a coven of crones, recently widowed, revisiting the scene of their worst crime in Eastwick, where they put a hex on a younger, more innocent romantic rival that resulted in the woman's death.

This promising concept misfires in the execution. The first third of the book is a beautifully written travelogue. (If that's a compliment, it's a backhanded one.) Alexandra, the coven's matron, takes a scenic tour of Canada. Then she and Jane, the hissing cynic, together visit Egypt. Soon, with Sukie, the youngest and prettiest of the trio (even as she approaches seventy), the coven is fully reconvened...and they take a trip to China. Though Updike has never been known for his plots, Widows' is non-existent. It's as if he had taken notes during his own travels -- in majestic prose, full of keen observations, shimmering with surface detail -- but couldn't figure out a way to seamlessly incorporate them into his narrative. Readers unwilling to savor words for their own supple sake can blamelessly skim to page 120 or so.

That's when the three women finally arrive in Eastwick, only to find the site of their former transgressions a quaint, would-be tourist town.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastwick Redux November 7, 2008
By sl
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I missed the witches and am grateful for Mr. Updike's return to Eastwick. Life has mellowed our Sukie, Alex and Jane, but this is true of all of us. Having lost their husbands, the three witches travel the world and end up, in all places, back in Eastwick. The town has changed, but there is enough of the old magic left to get this trio into trouble. Many reviews I have read take issue with the first chapter, which is devoted to the three witches traveling the globe and reconnecting. Updike is NOT for lazy readers. Updike takes us to ancient places where man tries to make sense of death through magic and nature. Updike's writing has lost none of its precession. He has cracked the code of human behavior and translates it to the page better than most.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Subtle and Well-Polished Sequel January 1, 2009
Updike's original Witches of Eastwick, over 20 years ago, stands as one of his best books. While a first rate realist in his famous Rabbit books and Maples stories, Updike is often strongest in his forays into the semi-mythic and surreal, as evidenced by his early Centaur. The original Witches was a scathing social satire and a frank moral tale, the notoriously unfaithful movie version notwithstanding. The three middle aged witches started out all fun, and then the story moved into true horror and darkness. In one of the best sustained pieces of prose in Updike's career, they drove a man to murder his wife and his own suicide. As the book wound horribly down from that peak, they contrived to kill the couple's young daughter, a rival in love to their warlock master.

Shrewdly, this book is more subtle and nuanced, like a series of Bella Bartok variations as compared to Lizst's Dante symphony. The writing is brilliant as the witches, now elderly, reunite for travels. As usual, the seemingly desert stretches of Updike are crammed with first rate social observation and dry wit. Finally, the old witches cannot resist returning to the scene of their crimes, Eastwick. Updike sustains the lightness even further, which one finally realizes is a tense, ominous deadness. Finally, in a worthy pendant to the brilliant murder scene of the first book, the three recreate their cone of power to unexpected and dire results (I will follow the Amazon rules here & refrain from plot giveaway--especially necessary in a book this subtle and fine-tuned).

Briefly, though, it can be told that what emerges here is a direct play-out of the action of the earlier book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Hate it.
Published 2 months ago by Emily
3.0 out of 5 stars Alexandra, Jane & Sukie
I am a huge John Updike fan, may he rest in peace. I believe "the end" for him was in 2009. Read more
Published 2 months ago by BrokenArrow
3.0 out of 5 stars Return of the Witches of Eastwick
Book Description
Publication Date: October 14, 2008
More than three decades after the events described in The Witches of Eastwick, Alexandra, Jane,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Leona Olson
4.0 out of 5 stars The One and Onlu Updike
Though not as good as much of the Rabbit tetraogy, John Updike always make me read paragraphs over and over. His command of the language is enequalled.
Published 10 months ago by Hy Abady
5.0 out of 5 stars great condition.
The book, of course, was great. It came quickly and in great condition. I bought to go along with the others in the series which I had already read as I watched the show... Read more
Published 18 months ago by T. Kriss
4.0 out of 5 stars very entertaining!
This novel was done in the manner and style that i can only expect from john updike. I couldnt put it down.
Published 21 months ago by judy charles
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed it
Not superb but a decent read. I still feel like something is missing from this series but I do continue to read so its not that bad.
Published 22 months ago by AmyA
2.0 out of 5 stars widows not as entertaining as witches....
i was excited to read what those three New england "witches" had been up to sense the last book.... Read more
Published on February 3, 2013 by mrs.pennyapple
4.0 out of 5 stars The King of Dick Lit!
The King of Dick Lit! John Updike makes me happy and scandalized in a way no other male author can. This book is a hilarious read. It's a book I want on my shelves. Read more
Published on December 11, 2012 by Jillian Igarashi
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, but I didn't love it.
The first thing that struck me about this audio book was the narrator. What a beautiful voice. Her words slid through the air like snow falling, consonants delicate taps on the... Read more
Published on September 29, 2012 by Midnyte Reader
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More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker, and since 1957 lived in Massachusetts. He was the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels won the Pulitzer Prize (twice), the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal. A previous collection of essays, Hugging the Shore, received the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. John Updike died on January 27, 2009, at the age of 76.

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