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The Widows of Eastwick: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 320 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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.)
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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: 2752 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; Reprint edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Publication Date: October 21, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001BAGVZ6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,266 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
(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 By John Murphy on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"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 By sl on November 7, 2008
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 By Billyjack D'Urberville on January 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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