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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Villages, 6 April 2006
This review is from: Villages (Paperback)
John Updike's 'Villages' savages US suburban life with its depiction of computer programmer Owen Mackenzie, the neighbourhood cuckold whose entire life seems to drift by in a succession of extra-marital affairs. As you would expect from Updike, this book is brimming with insights about middle-class America, told with the knowing wink and tongue-in-cheek of an author of extraordinary powers. Like Updike's protagonist Owen Wilson, this book is something of a cold fish. Rarely are we afforded the opportunity to glimpse beyond the author's enormous appetite for cynicism, his sharply-drawn characters as they are so harshly debased to cultural mores. Owen makes for a tangible but depressingly shallow protagonist, with little sense of loyalty or compassion. It is not immediately obvious why women are so attracted to him or often what attracts him to them, but it is a credible portrayal of someone that is ultimately unfulfilled by his suburban existence but is only able to articulate it through pursuit of his extra-marital affairs. It all makes for a rather damning portrait of 1960s and 70s America that sits quite comfortably with Updike's more compassionate Rabbit series. The world of 'Middle Falls' (i.e., Anytown, USA) - like Owen's aloof wife Phyllis, and the arcane world of computer programming - is depicted as emotionally impenetratable. This seems a deliberate attempt by the author to evoke a sense of detachment and superficiality - but it doesn't make for the most enjoyable read. Nevertheless, Updike still has the power to startle with the wit and veracity of his language, like the analogy he makes for Owen returning guiltily to his family home after a secret tryst, feeling 'the gaze of its windows as reproachful, like that of a forsaken pet'.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful story, 6 April 2005
By 
Sancho Mahle (Charlotte, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Villages (Hardcover)
Villages is the first John Updike book I have read so I can't compare it to his other titles. However, I loved it. John Updike is a great storyteller I shall start taking seriously. The story was a well constructed . I especially liked the Character development and like Owen, the main character the most. Like all stories set in a society in transition, innocence, ignorance, enlightenment, courage, evil, sex and goodness are all interwoven to make situations so exciting,. John Updike captured all of those in this novel. A highly recommended read.
Also recommended: DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, GILEAD, THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good yarn, 20 Sep 2009
By 
G. D. Busby "Cornish Graham" (Cornwall) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Villages (Paperback)
More than thirty years after first reading John Updike, I have come back to his work and can now see why he is 'rated' although I don't believe this novel is particularly literary. Not sure which came first of these but I felt there were similarities in background with Vonnegut's Bluebeard and Irving's Widow for a Year but then that could be my imagination.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great, 28 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Villages (Paperback)
smooth sailing, I will use them again indeed if I require the purchase of anything such as this again for sure.
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Villages
Villages by John Updike (Paperback - 31 Oct 2005)
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