Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Witches of Eastwick, by John Updike

2.5 stars

I was already really familiar with the film adaptation when I picked this up looking for a campy and fun pre-Halloween read, only to find myself somewhat disappointed at the very different tone of the book (not the only way in which this differs from the film, which also seems to have cast the lead actresses in the wrong roles as well as being in possession of a far more charismatic Darryl Van Horne than the one written). 

Usually I'm a book-first kind of girl, and I did admittedly struggle thanks to having the film so vividly in my head, and found myself continually comparing the two.

Alexandra, Sukie and Jane all reside in the Rhode Island town of Eastwick where their powers flourished once they'd been relieved of their husbands through either death or divorce. They spend their time sleeping with the remaining married men of the town in between their Thursday meetings where they raise their power as a coven and raise small but mean-spirited spells on their neighbours while boozing and gossiping. Until the arrival in town of the mysterious Darryl Van Horne, taking up residence at and renovating the old Lenox mansion. He's soon having the ladies over for orgies, testing the bonds of their friendships and separating them from the rest of the town before disappearing, leaving their friendship forever changed and them facing a new coven of opposing witches, whose own powers arrived once they were deprived of their husbands by our witches. Eventually, our witches too leave town, having magicked themselves up new husbands.

For such a relatively small book it took a long time for me to get through, quite possibly due to the lack of narrative thrust - I'd quite often put it down and then forget to read it again for a few days. And while Updike writes well - and never more so than during the incredibly effective passage on the murder-suicide of the Gabriel's - his flair for description didn't do enough to counteract what I felt as a lack of narrative drive.

Having neither loved nor loathed this, I'm probably not destined to remember much about it either.

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