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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years) Mass Market Paperback – Illustrated, September 25, 2007
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"Gregory gets the complications and uniqueness of women very well." (Kristen Chenoweth)
“At the heart of this remarkable, unforgettable novel is a wildly original premise-- one that only a writer with Gregory Maguire’s intellect and daring could have dreamed up: that the Wicked Witch of the West was a real woman, with an actual name, and her own story to tell. It was radical when Gregory first wrote it, and remains radical. It has the power to reshape one’s view of the world.” (Winnie Holzman, co-writer of Wicked: The Musical)
“Long before there was any thought of a musical, I read Wicked. I felt a quiet joy that sisterhood had made its way to the Yellow Brick Road. What happens when a witch, green or otherwise, gets to tell her own story instead of being vilified and misrepresented by dominant cultural authority? We witches know how that turns out!” (Holly Near)
“I knew that Gregory Maguire had come up with a genius idea the moment I heard about Wicked. It’s a book that has changed a lot of lives, including mine.” (Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist of Wicked: The Musical)
From the Back Cover
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?
Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
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NOTHING LIKE THE MUSICAL!!!
::: There Is Always More to the Story :::
Gregory Maguire's first novel turned one of the most established legends of our time on its ear with its premise: what if the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz wasn't so wicked after all, but was actually viewed that way based only on perception? The story surrounds the life of Elphaba, the daughter of a minister and a woman who wasn't the most faithful minister's wife ever. Her unfortunate tale begins with her birth, when she is born with green skin, teeth so sharp she bites her own skin, and an aversion to water. Her mother turns to herbal drugs, and her missionary father believes that Elphaba's condition is somehow his fault. The only stable figure is really Elphaba's mother's former nanny, who comes to take care of the little green girl.
Elphaba's childhood is defined by her father's missionary work in Quadling country, the poorest section of Oz, and a far cry from the upper class of Munchinland to which her mother was born.
Maguire picks up the story when Elphaba is older, and a new student at Shiz, the university of Oz. The university is divided into all-male and all-female colleges, and Elphaba ends up rooming with the very snobby Galinda, much to Galinda's dismay. Elphaba quickly becomes suspicious of the headmistress, Madame Morrible, and after an Animal (the walking, talking, intelligent versions, much like the Cowardly Lion) professor dies under mysterious circumstances, Elphaba finagles an audience with the Wizard for herself and Galinda, where she quickly realizes that the Wizard is not the paternalistic ruler he was believed to be.
Elphaba sends Galinda back to Shiz and begins a life of resistance, first on behalf of the Animals, then with a life in a convent (or mauntery, as they call it), and finally ends up in the land of the Vinkus, where she creates her famed winged monkeys, begins to dabble in sorcery, and her story intersects with the story of Dorothy that we all grew up with.
::: Politics, Social Classes, Despots... Just Like Real Life :::
Trying to sum up the various plots in Wicked is impossible, and I feel impotent even attempting it. Maguire has created an incredible character and the book will leave you unable to watch the movie the same way again. Not only has he created a rich and sympathetic character in Elphaba, but he has also created a world that seems so real that every time I had to put the book down to do something else I felt as if I was being jolted from one world to another.
While at times it might seem as if Maguire is leaving too much out, jumping as he does from one period in Elphaba's life to another, he has chosen the most significant points to focus on; each set of experiences is one that would have shaped the woman who became known as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The hardest part of reading Wicked is knowing how it is going to end. From the start, you know that Elphaba is doomed; that she will die at Dorothy's hand, and nothing will change that. Still, even knowing this, you find yourself hoping against hope that Maguire will change the story and find a loophole for Elphaba, that she won't truly die, but live on, fighting the corrupt Wizard and everything he has created.
::: This Isn't Broadway :::
For those introduced to the softer side of Elphaba through the Broadway show of the same name, the novel will probably be a huge surprise. "Based on" is the operative phrase in the description of the musical, which has a far simpler plot than the novel. It would have been impossible to condense all the political intrigue and vast cast of characters in the novel into a musical, and many of the plot devices were oversimplified, including the love affair between Elphaba and Fiyero. The Boq of the novel is, in fact, a Munchinlander who had a crush on Galinda/Glinda, but he plays a far more important role in helping Elphaba in her research for Doctor Dillamond, and later, in helping Dorothy. While I love the show, the book has a much greater depth than the musical, and requires more of the reader than the audience member.
Wicked is one of the best novels I've read in a long, long time. I find myself reading it over again, still hoping that Elphaba can be saved, and still getting lost in the world of Oz as Maguire sees it. This is a book not to be missed, and I guarantee that you'll never view blue gingham and ruby slippers the same way again.
Top international reviews
The chapters are based on each character and carry out detailed sections on each individuals lives.
this is a must read for any wicked enthusiast!
But just couldn't get into it somehow. I was expecting the story of the novel to be different to that of the musical, but the book seemed to have very little in the terms of plot. The story is separated into several different parts. Some of which are more interesting than others. I enjoyed somewhat the bits with Elphaba at school, and getting to know other friends. But after they left the school, the plot dragged and the style of writing of the author didn't flow well enough to keep my interest. Quite a lot that happens seems to have very little relevance to the overall story. So consequently the ending fell flat, and I didn't find myself caring what happened.
These novels seem very popular, but I just couldn't get into it.
This was a fantastic read and it was fascinating to read into the life and times of the little green girl who, though not inherently evil, grew up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, along with her sister who became the Wicked Witch of the East.
I actually ended up feeling vary sorry for the witch and was quite saddened when she was killed by Dorothy. Though called the Wicked with she wasn't actually that evil and did have compassion and love within her.
The story kept me wanting to read one more chapter before putting it down and I was a little disappointed when it ended; I really wanted to witch to live in the end.
I recommend this story to any fan of the original Oz story who is interested in reading more about the land of Oz and its characters.
I wish this was available on the Kindle; the 3 sequels this book spawned are on Kindle. For some reason this book is available on Kindle on the US store but not the UK store. Oddly though the Amazon UK site sells the kindle version of this book in the German language, and on Amazon Germany you can get the English version of this book. Amazon, why is this? Why can I not get the English Kindle version of this book from Amazon UK, only the German version, yet on your Germany site it's available in English?
Note: the book is completely different to the musical but both are enjoyable.
I have a penchant for fairytale retellings that are a bit dark and misunderstood villains and this ticked all my boxes. It didn't get five stars though just because I prefer the ending of the musical version.
It is a book to be read and devoured, a character than anyone with a love of the Wizard of Oz will throroughly appreciate, this is the tale of the Wicked Witch of the West - Elphaba. I cannot recommend this highly enough, Gregory Maguire captures the imagination and her tale unfolds with great characters along the way.
This is storytelling at its best.
I LOVE THIS SERIES
Arrived on time in a perfect package. I love Amazon, it never lets me down.