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More than three decades have passed since the events described in John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick. The three divorcées—Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie—have left town, remarried, and become widows. They cope with their grief and solitude as widows do: they travel the world, to such foreign lands as Canada, Egypt, and China, and renew old acquaintance. Why not, Sukie and Jane ask Alexandra, go back to Eastwick for the summer? The old Rhode Island seaside town, where they indulged in wicked mischief under the influence of the diabolical Darryl Van Horne, is still magical for them. Now Darryl is gone, and their lovers of the time have aged or died, but enchantment remains in the familiar streets and scenery of the village, where they enjoyed their lusty primes as free and empowered women. And, among the local citizenry, there are still those who remember them, and wish them ill. How they cope with the lingering traces of their evil deeds, the shocks of a mysterious counterspell, and the advancing inroads of old age, form the burden on Updike’s delightful, ominous sequel.
“John Updike is the great genial sorcerer of American letters. His output alone . . . has been supernatural. More wizardly still is the ingenuity of his prose . . . This isn’t writing. It is magic . . . Updike’s asperities on age reflect back on himself, but not in the way we might expect. At 76, he still wrings more from a sentence than almost anyone else. His sorcery is startlingly fresh, page upon page . . . [Updike’s subject is] nothing less than ‘the whole mass of middling, hidden, troubled America.’ No writer of our time has reached into it so deeply or conjured so many of its mysteries so pulsingly to life.” —Sam Tanenhaus, The New York Times Book Review
“If wit is a form of witchcraft, igniting sparks from airy nothingness, concocting a peppery brew of words, then John Updike’s powers are undiminished . . . In wickedly glinting sentences, Updike explores the distinctly unmagical humiliations of advancing age, and the prickly temptations of sin.” —O, the Oprah Magazine
“The Widows of Eastwick might just be his best novel since 1990’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Rabbit at Rest.” —John Mark Eberhart, Kansas City Star
“There’s no one quite like John Updike for a trip to New England. History, theology, period-detailed houses and frequent sex whiz by in a blur of inimitable writing . . . Thank whatever deity you happen to worship . . . because Updike has now written The Widows of Eastwick, a frolicsome new book about the trio [of witches of Eastwick]. As with New England autumns, we witness a maturing of these women’s natures–a last, hot-red, end-of-season change as rendered by this literary sorcerer.” —Celia McGee, Town & Country
“Vibrant characters, careful detailing, and a sense of anticipation of impending dire events leave this an absorbing read, enjoyable to its fullest even by readers unfamiliar with its predecessor.” —Booklist
“[I]ts seamless blending of dexterously plotted narrative with penetrating characterizations . . . evoke with nearly Tolstoyan poignancy the weary, resigned clairvoyance of old age . . .” —Kirkus Reviews
“Updike hasn’t only written a stunner. This serious literary novelist has also used romance fiction to supply important insights into what narrative art of any kind consists of: tons of hard work and a devotion to detail. The luminosity of Widows confirms the wisdom of his advice.” —Peter Wolfe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The Widows of Eastwick is by turns funny, philosophical, suspenseful, and sad. At 76, Updike remains America’s greatest writer, invoking his distinctive brand of magical realism in an elegantly written, occasionally crabby, often moving meditation on original sin, aging, and atonement . . . Updike provides in Widows a penetrating and poignant portrait of the domestic lives of women, married and single, so many of whom feel disempowered or warped.” —Glenn Altschuler, Jerusalem Post