The Witches of Eastwick

( 11 )

Overview

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. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox ...

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The Witches of Eastwick: A Novel

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Overview

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. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick—and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“John Updike is the great genial sorcerer of American letters [and] The Witches of Eastwick [one of his] most ambitious works. . . . [A] comedy of the blackest sort.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“A great deal of fun to read . . . fresh, constantly entertaining . . . John Updike [is] a wizard of language and observation.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
 
“Vintage Updike, which is to say among the best fiction we have.”—Newsday

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449912102
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 273,843
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John Updike was born in 1932, in Shillington, Pennsylvania. From 1955 to 1957 he was a staff member of The New Yorker and since 1957 he has lived in Massachusetts. He is the father of four children and the author of more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, and criticism. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.

Biography

With an uncommonly varied oeuvre that includes poetry, criticism, essays, short stories, and novels, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike helped to change the face of late-20th-century American literature.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1954. Following a year of study in England, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, establishing a relationship with the magazine that continued until his death in January, 2009. For more than 50 years, he lived in two small towns in Massachusetts that inspired the settings for several of his stories.

In 1958, Updike's first collection of poetry was published. A year later, he made his fiction debut with The Poorhouse Fair. But it was his second novel, 1960's Rabbit, Run, that forged his reputation and introduced one of the most memorable characters in American fiction. Former small-town basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom struck a responsive chord with readers and critics alike and catapulted Updike into the literary stratosphere.

Updike would revisit Angstrom in 1971, 1981, and 1990, chronicling his hapless protagonist's jittery journey into undistinguished middle age in three melancholy bestsellers: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest. A concluding novella, "Rabbit Remembered," appeared in the 2001 story collection Licks of Love.

Although autobiographical elements appear in the Rabbit books, Updike's true literary alter ego was not Harry Angstrom but Harry Bech, a famously unproductive Jewish-American writer who starred in his own story cycle. In between -- indeed, far beyond -- his successful series, Updike went on to produce an astonishingly diverse string of novels. In addition, his criticism and short fiction became popular staples of distinguished literary publications.

Good To Know

Updike first became entranced by reading when he was a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Pennsylvania. Afflicted with psoriasis and a stammer, he escaped his self-consciousness by immersing himself in drawing, writing, and reading.

An accomplished artist, Updike accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. He decided to attend Harvard University because he was a big fan of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.

One of the most respected authors of the 20th century, Updike won every major literary prize in America, including the Guggenheim Fellow, the Rosenthal Award, the National Book Award in Fiction, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of the Arts.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Hoyer Updike (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shillington, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Death:
      January 27, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Beverly Farms, MA

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2002

    A DELICIOUSLY EROTIC BOOK.. PACKED WITH SUMPTUOUS ENTERTAINMENT

    A dazzlingly thrilling book packed with steamy sex, mesmerizing beauty, and three voluptuous woman who with their witchcraft create havoc, fun, and comical breakouts. A Great deal of fun to read. Fresh, satanically clever, daring, perceptive and witty. I absolutely loved this book for three reasons. The shocking events paralelling the witches themselves, the bewitching delights that occur at the Van Horn estate, and the horrifying incident with the Devil himself, like acid rain on widlfire. One of the most intelligent books I've ever read. Not only because of the way it was written, but the plot and the terrific author whom thought of this fantasic theme to a hypnotic, and lyrical story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2000

    Scathing humor, & politically incorrect fun!

    The moment I opened 'The Witches of Eastwick' I fell in love. Updike's tasty language, his uncommon imagery, and his understanding of how women, who happen to be Witches, think...is astonishing. He beautifully captures the underlying currents of living in a New England seaside town, with its shifting tides and changing seasons merging with the mood and purpose of its inhabitants. The dialogue is sharp, accurate and scathing. His characterizations of the three Witches shows he has done his homework. I know that politically correct Wiccans decry the inclusion of nasty spells and wickedness...but let's be real for a moment...This isn't a story about Wicca in it's currently popular idealized form. It's a modern comedy, a battle of the sexes; and the women just happen to be full blooded Witches...not pentacle~wearing flower children. Hexes have been around for centuries, and darling, these women know how to conjure and hex! Updike's depiction of the 'Devil' is laugh out loud funny, ironic, and satirical. Yes, I know, Wiccans and Witches don't believe in the devil, but Christians do, and this is just as much a satire on the church as it is our culture in general...The Devil's speech about evolution was laugh out loud funny. The 'Witches of Eastwick' was pure pleasure to read. I only wish Updike would write about witches more! *** *BB*!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    A Writer's Writer

    This book is full of imagery, themes, and characters written for a writer's enjoyment. The main characters are fully developed and a real treat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    Never judge a book by it's cover

    Being only 18 years old I was very septic when I was handed this book by my AP Lit teacher. It was a book that we had to read for class. I kept thinking that I didn't want to read this at all and it sounded like it was going to be full of nothing but sexual activities. Well after I started reading it I found my self not wanting to put it down. In fact I finished it before anyone else in the class did. I fell in love with this story and I would recommend this story to anyone. I really enjoyed this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    This hexy, sexy novel is sure to leave a mark.

    SPOILER ALERT

    This hexy, sexy novel should only be enjoyed by those that are mature enough to handle and look past the (always-present) sexual topics and situations. This means, at least, age sixteen. One must also realize that this novel is very disturbing the way that is very typical of Mr. John Updike; taking normal commonplace events and portraying them in a gritty, blunt, and disturbing new perspective. The title of the novel says it all; The Witches of Eastwick. Not oly do the three girls Alex, Jane, and Sukie litterally have powers, but they are also, in my opinion, the worst types of people. One does become desensitized to their actions as the novel progresses though. The real shocker came from the ending. The three witches conjure up their perfect husbands and then they leave each others company by moving out of town. Not only will these husbands never last like all of the others, but the only comfort in the world to the witches was each others company; and now they are to abandon their only thing that gave a sense of humanity.
    These girls are the talk of the town; not for any good things though. Surprisingly, not much buzz is sparked because of the town knowing about the witches powers. I found this very interesting. John Updike created a world not too different from ours in which the citizens are desensitized to "vile" and "heathenous" things such as these whitches powers. There is so much of it that it is becoming commonplace. The ways in which the witches use their powers is in an almost playful manner though. In the story, the girls manage to make a tennis match rather enjoyable with all of their tom-foolery by using their powers to mess up the others girls games. At times, I wished for those abilities because of how appealing they are.
    All in all, this novel is a horrible novel with a corrupt character lineup and plot, but it really left an impression on me that really got me thinking.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

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