Friday, January 24, 2014

The Widows of Eastwick

The Widows of Eastwick is the sequel to John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick. This book was written in 2008, some 24 years after the first book. Per Updike's usual M.O. when he writes a sequel, the characters all age accordingly. As such we meet up with the three witches all in their mid-to-late 60s. Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie have gone their separate ways and lived their separate lives. However, just before their parted, they used their witchcraft to fashion new mates. Yet now each has taken on the new label of widow.

The husbands whom the three Godforsaken women had by their dark arts concocted for themselves did not prove durable. Wicked methods make weak products.

As if somehow sensing the pain and loneliness of the others, the three witches begin to travel together and to reconnect. Eventually they make the decision to spent the summer back in Eastwick. They each want to see what has become of their old town, left so long ago. However, even beyond this curiosity, they dream to return to where they were at the height of their powers, both as witches and as women. In Eastwick they find that some things have changed and some things never do. The coven comes face to face with many of the troubles that they created in the past and now they are on the receiving end of some else's dark powers. Yet those that return to whence they came carry with them improved perspective and a new spirit for living.

I read an interview that Updike gave many years ago when he talked about why he liked to write sequels. He stated that he loved the challenge of testing his own cleverness. Could he create a compelling narrative that stayed true to the characters that he had brought to life? Could he successfully develop a way to connect the past to the present and to evolve lives through the years? This sequel was quite interesting and pleased me with the redemptive aspects of the story.