Seven people came to discuss the Witches of Eastwick at today's library book group, not including the librarian. No one loved it. As is customary in reacting to John Updike's books, the sexual content was a major distraction for at least one reader. Many felt it was entirely satirical - poking fun at the feminist movement in particular. One reader suggested that the joke was: look what happens when women become "liberated and empowered," they become witches. We noted that all three witches became supernaturally empowered only after they were widowed, as the book said this was the prerequisite for becoming a witch or "getting in touch" with one's essential female witchiness. There was disagreement over whether the witches were entirely as bad as critics suggested. Some felt that Alexandra was the most fully-developed and sympathetic character and that the author seemed fond of his witches in spite of their jealous and destructive tendencies. Several who had read other works of Updike felt it was not his best work. Not a one of the readers were particularly interested in witchcraft or Wicca. Most agreed the style was quite elaborate but this didn't bother anyone as much as it bothered the librarian, who likes a more straightforward narrative and descriptive style.
Would the group recommend this title for other book groups? Maybe, maybe not. Some readers felt the book was dated and has not stood the test of time (it was published in 1984 and takes place in the late 1960's.) It would probably be a better choice to read the Rabbit series by Updike if no one in the group has read those yet.
Rating for bookgroup reading: two out of five bookmarks.
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