Monday, June 22, 2009

Widows of Eastwick

The Widows of Eastwick The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike

My review

rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
The Widows of Eastwick is John Updike's last published book (he died January 27th, 2009 of lung cancer)and just because it was his last book, that in itself is worth the read. I love Updike's short story, "A&P" but haven't had the pleaure of reading any of his novels -- "Widows" was my first foray into Updikeland. I enjoyed his tangents about aging, loss and decreptitude. These are all surely issues that were on his mind as he was sick with lung cancer. The book, however, is mostly a self-indulgent mess without any real plot or point. But, because it's Updike, there are memorable lines such as this one, "We all are swaying on the makeshift rope bridge that society suspends above the crevasse."

Updike spends a unnecessary amount of time detailing two of the witches (now widows) worldwide travels in the Canadian Rockies, China and in Egypt -- when are we going to get on with the story? The plot then reunites the three: Alexandra, the oldest and fattest, Jane, the meanest, and Sukie the sweetest. They decide to spend the summer in their old haunts of Eastwick and share a condo at Darryl Van Horne's old residence (I was very disappointed that Darryl didn't make an appearance in this sequel). They try to start up their old tricks without their age slowing them down -- Sukie meets her old lover, Tommy, and Alexandra makes contact with her almost estranged daughter, Marcy. Their age does slow them down and they know that their powers may be gone soon as well (the youngest, Sukie, is in her late 60s and Alexandra is 74). The antagonist in this book is not so much the town or society, but rather death and how the witches fear it because they know they haven't made peace with what they've done. Alexandra is the most likeable and emotional center of the novel and she knows what she has to do to make the wrongs right, although she may die before she sees anything good happen.

To me this novel was merely OK - 2.5 out of 5. May Updike be remembered for his many other creative works.

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