When John Updike published the sequel, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to read The Witches of Eastwick for years. Loved the movie, though it has been years since I’ve seen it. Like Updike. I had heard the novel was really different, but had not heard a consensus of opinion on whether “different” meant “better”.
And I still couldn’t tell you. It really is different.
The film version, as I remember it, had these three women with some exceptional talents have something absolutely magical happen. Which leads to a few more magical things. The magical things go very, scary bad and how do our heroines fix it?
In the novel, our heroines are not really heroines. They are not even particularly likable. And they are true witches – actively practicing magic for their convenience or their spite.
What the novel has is a really interesting portrayal of witchcraft. Part of it was explained so quickly, I almost missed it – that any woman that had left or been left by her man had this power. Whether she developed it was up for debate.
Also interesting was the rather careless way the magic is tossed about until toward the end when a clear line is crossed. The last section is even titled “Guilt”. That feeling gave the book a bit more heart than the film. But the film was more fun. So take your pick.
I love both the book and the movie, but for different reasons. (The movie has so many great actors.) I find a lot of Updike to be fairly sexist (could barely make it through all the Rabbit books, finding the women characters lacking in dimension) but I loved the array of female characters in Eastwick. I like all the small-town shenanigans, and how hilarious and gossipy everyone is.Haven't read the sequel. Now I'm thinking about it.