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The Witches of Eastwick (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

John Updike
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Feb 2007 Penguin Modern Classics
The air of Eastwick breeds witches - women whose powerful longings can stir up thunderstorms and fracture domestic peace. Jane, Alexandra and Sukie, divorced and dangerous, have formed a coven. Into the void of Eastwick breezes Darryl Van Horne, a charismatic magus of a man who entrances the trio, luring them to his mansions...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (22 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188973
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. He attended Shillington High School, Harvard College and the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford, where he spent a year on a Knox Fellowship. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of the New Yorker, to which he contributed numerous poems, short stories, essays and book reviews. After 1957 he lived in Massachusetts until his death.

John Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published in 1959. It was followed by Rabbit, Run, the first volume of what have become known as the Rabbit books, which John Banville described as 'one of the finest literary achievements to have come out of the US since the war'. Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Other novels by John Updike include Marry Me, The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a major feature film, Memories of the Ford Administration, Brazil, In the Beauty of the Lilies, Toward the End of Time and Villages. He has written a number of volumes of short stories, and a selection entitled Forty Stories, taken from The Same Door, Pigeon Feathers, The Music School and Museums and Women, is published in Penguin, as is the highly acclaimed The Afterlife and Other Stories. His criticism and his essays, which first appeared in magazines such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, have been collected in five volumes. Golf Dreams, a collection of his writings on golf, has also been published. His Collected Poems 1953-1993 brings together almost all the poems from five previous volumes, including 'Hoping for a Hoopoe', 'Telephone Poles' and 'Tossing and Turning', as well as seventy poems previously unpublished in book form. The last books of his to be published by Hamish Hamilton were My Father's Tears and Other Stories, and Endpoint and Other Poems. He died in January 2009.


Product Description

Review

" A Great Deal Of Fun To Read...Fresh, constantly entertaining...The text also abounds with delightful aphorisms for these times...John Updike remains a wizard of language and observation." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer " A wicked entertainment with lots (and lots) of sex...In book after book, Updike's fine, funny impressionistic art strips the full casings of everydayness from objects we have known all our lives and makes them shine with fresh new connections." -- The New Republic " A dazzling book...A very funny and very unsettling story of what witchcraft might look like if it were around today...Updike is devilishly clever." -- Los Angeles Times Selected By Time Magazine As One Of The Five Best Works Of Fiction Of The Year --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Updike was born in 1932 in Shillington, Pennsylvania. John Updike's first novel, The Poorhouse Fair, was published in 1959. It was followed by Rabbit, Run, the first volume of what have become known as the Rabbit books, which John Banville described as 'one of the finest literary achievements to have come out of the US since the war'. Rabbit is Rich (1981) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other novels by John Updike include Marry Me, The Witches of Eastwick, which was made into a major feature film, Memories of the Ford Administration, Brazil, In the Beauty of the Lilies and Toward the End of Time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 4 2 Aug 2012
By Hils T
Format:Paperback
Once I'd settled into Updike's style of writing, I really enjoyed the first part of this book but this didn't last. The plot, witty at first with elements of humour, soon darkens perceptibly, as, under the influence of their dark mentor, the witches allow their powers to run amok. Finally, it ends cruelly and unpleasantly, with only one witch apparently feeling any remorse for their actions. I found that difficult to deal with and ended the book feeling rather dispirited.

Certainly Updike's use of language is incredible and poetic at times but he also tends toward some very wordy, convoluted sentences which need close attention. I'm glad I've read "Witches...." but don't feel inspired to tackle any other of the author's works including the book's sequel, "Widows...."

It's a very different plot from the film based on the book which has far more "moral" outcome, yet the book's Darryl Van Horne is unmistakably the film's Jack Nicholson!
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the witches of eastwick 20 Aug 2007
Format:Paperback
Reading The Witches of Eastwick was slightly surreal for two reasons. One is that when I saw the film all those eons ago, I had no idea it was based on a book by Updike, and Jack Nicholson was so potent in his portrayal of Darryl Van Horne that his image haunts the book. The second is that Updike is one of my favourite authors, mainly because he can describe the mundanities of normal life with such perspicuity and acute perception that it makes my spine tingle. So I wasn't sure how I felt about him writing about witches - women with supernatural powers. Being on par with Richard Dawkins about this subject enflamed this disbelief.

Yet I greatly enjoyed The Witches of Eastwick. Most people will be familiar with its story through the eponymous film - three divorced women, Alexandra, Sukie and Jane, become swept into the life of Darryl Van Horne, a droll, unconventional and magnetically sexy newcomer to their small town. The divorcees have magic powers which they have used to avenge themselves in past situations - causing a dog to die here, a necklace to snap there. But their growing obsession with this suave man calls on them to increase the magnitude of their spells.

The first thing to say is that Jack Nicholson was Van Horne down to the hair on his back. The drawl, the slightly repugnant air, the staggering confidence, the je ne sais quoi which transformed this hirsute little man into an object of desire.

Updike's prose is as crisp and perceptive as ever. Whether he is describing the physical characteristics of a person or a landscape, he has the ability to make you draw in breath in admiration or suppress a chuckle.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Black as Pitch 17 Jan 2013
By M. J. Saxton VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A wickedly delightful novel by Updike. A story that not only entertains with its lively and humourous narrative, but also an imaginative portrayal of a small town determined to hold on to its ordinariness and the three women who are a reminder that life is to be enjoyed. After reading this, I am definitely a fan of Updike.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MAGIC 17 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Several years ago I read and reread this book finding it difficult but fascinating. The story of the three witches remained in my memory until I bought this copy and read it yet again, this time I enjoyed the novel more than before. It is far superior to the film (which isn't bad) in the way Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is better than any of the movies based on it. Though not a horror novel it does have supernatural elements making it a strange rather haunting tale, the witches Jane, Alexandra, and Sukie are the heroines though there behaviour is questionable - unusual - recommended - MPC.
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5.0 out of 5 stars gripping 14 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
great story line - liked the characters and the combination of fact and fiction. really enjoyed it. great for people who like supernatural story lines with an insight on the female perspective, from Updike's point of view.
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