Witchcraft is something women go through in their thirties, especially after a divorce, apparently. This is according to John Updike in this dark novel - much darker than you might expect if you've only seen the film and the musical, as I have.
Alex, Jane and Suzie have already come together as a coven when the novel starts; they are three women who use their powers as the whim takes them. They are more closely related to the witches of Salem and "The Crucible" than the quirky trio in the film.
Daryl Van Horne is a strange, scruffy little man who spends money like water, but never seems to pay his bills. His enchantment of the women is as much by his charisma as anything else and when they lose interest in that, after he has married Jenny, what they had previously enjoyed seems tawdry.
Their revenge on Jenny is a spiteful thing and all the more sad that they can't undo it in time to save her. Felicia, Brenda and Franny Lovecraft are equally victims of their spite.
It is an interesting take on witchcraft: the passing of a phase in a woman's life. By the end of the story the first three witches have lost the urge and another three are rising in power. Certainly it presents a rather misogynistic viewpoint.
The prose is often dense and, for me, slows down the pace. I found it hard to keep picking up the narrative. Probably a book best for Updike fans.