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"A wry, raunchy, cleverly contemporary fable ...an entertaining romp...for those of us who enjoy laughing out loud while reading and losing ourselves in a familiar, yet subtly enchanted world, Updike's latest is a trick-or-treat fantasy that will not disappoint your sense of mischief—or of literature."

Los Angeles Herald Examiner

"Vintage Updike, which is to say among the best fiction we have."

Newsday

''Charming... As for the witches themselves, there's a strong suggestion that they are products of Eastwick's—read America's—own fantasy life. If so, it's as well to know about them. That's the serious reason for reading this book. The other reasons have to do with the skill and inventiveness of the writing, the accuracy of the detail, the sheer energy of the witches and, above all, the practicality of the charms."

Margaret Atwood The New York Times Book Review

"The Witches of Eastwick manifests most of Updike's virtues; it is witty, ironic, engrossing, and punctuated by transports of spectacular prose. The witchcraft scenes are oddly convincing, thanks to their grounding in everyday detail."

Time (more)

"No writer working today can invoke process or memory—the precision of the one, the bitter pleasure of the other—with more satisfaction to

the reader than John Updike Updike is ample,

risky, intelligent, a lover of our language and a celebrant of flesh, goods and needfulness."

Frederick Busch Chicago Tribune

"As broadly hilarious as it is gently profound. With his contemporary coven grounding the novel in mischief and midlife despair, Updike takes off on an ingenious survey of '60s manners and suburban morals. And if his view is rarely optimistic, it is always loving and unfailingly entertaining."

New York Daily News

"Perceptive, witty, and more lighthearted than Updike's recent fiction, his new novel immediately engages the reader with its audaciously conceived protagonists: three witches, all living in modern-day Rhode Island...the drama is deliciously slow

in developing Only Updike could come up with

a funny, optimistic and satisfying ending to this richly imagined tale."

Publishers Weekly

"The Witches of Eastwick is John Updike with his shoes off.... vastly enjoyable...Updike captures the tone of women of a certain age and frame of mind—their crushing directness, their cynical optimism—with the lack of sentimentality that betokens a deep and honest love."

New York Magazine

"As he approaches his middle period as a writer, John Updike keeps giving evidence that it is possible to simply get better and better.... Updike is the most genial of writers....His intelligence delights in ambiguities and his wit angles always toward irony and paradox and the joys of parody.... this is his best in years."

Ron Hansen San Francisco Chronicle Review

"At the heart of the fantasy, with its Latin-American brand of baroque whimsy (the witches' victims spit feathers and bugs), is native New England sorcery and the seven deadly sins. It is an excess of one virtue—sympathy—that gets Eastwick's witches off the ground, if also into trouble. Mr. Updike's sympathy for them may be the closest some of us ever come to flying."

The New Yorker

FAWCETT CREST BOOKS By John Updike:

BECH IS BACK

THE CENTAUR

THE COUP

COUPLES

MARRY ME

A MONTH OF SUNDAYS OF THE FARM PIGEON FEATHERS THE POORHOUSE FAIR PROBLEMS RABBIT IS RICH RABBIT REDUX RABBIT, RUN TOO FAR TO GO

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK

John Updike

FAWCETT CREST · NEW YORK

A Fawcett Crest Book Published by Ballantine Books Copyright © 1984 by John Updike

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Con­ventions. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Tomato.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 83-49048

ISBN 0-449-20647-5

AH places and persons represented in this novel are fictional, and any resemblance to actual places or persons living or dead is purely coinci­dental.

This edition pubiished by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

A signed first edition of this book has been privately printed by The Franklin Library.

Manufactured in the United Slates of America First Ballintine Books Edition: July 1985

Chapters

The Coven 1

Malefica 34

Guilt 236

I

The Coven

"He was a meikle blak roch man, werie cold."

—Isobel Gowdxe, in 1662

"Now efter that the deuell had endit his admonitions, he cam down out of the pulpit, and caused all the company to com and kiss his ers, quhilk they said was cauld lyk yce; his body was hard lyk yrn, as they thocht that handled him."

—Agnes Sampson, in 1590

And oh yes," Jane Smart said in her hasty yet pur­poseful way; each s seemed the black tip of a just-extinguished match held in playful hurt, as children do, against the skin. "Sukie said a man has bought the Lenox mansion."

"A man?" Alexandra Spofford asked, feeling off-center, her peaceful aura that morning splayed by the assertive word.

"From New York," Jane hurried on, the last syllable almost barked, its r dropped in Massachusetts style. "No wife and family, evidently."

"Oh. One of those." Hearing Jane's northern voice bring her this rumor of a homosexual come up from Manhattan to invade them, Alexandra felt intersected where she was, in this mysterious crabbed state of

Rhode Island. She had been born in the West, where white and violet mountains lift in pursuit of the del­icate tall clouds, and tumbleweed rolls in pursuit of the horizon.

"Sukie wasn't so sure," Jane said swiftly, her s's chastening. "He appeared quite burly. She was struck by how hairy the backs of his hands were. He told the people at Perley Realty he needed all that space because he was an inventor with a lab. And he owns a number of pianos."

Alexandra giggled; the noise, little changed since her Colorado girlhood, seemed produced not out of her throat but by a birdlike familiar perched on her shoulder. In fact the telephone was aching at her ear. And her forearm tingled, going numb. "How many pianos can a man have?"

This seemed to offend Jane. Her voice bristled like a black cat's fur, iridescent. She said defensively, "Well Sukie's only going by what Marge Perley told her at last night's meeting of the Horse Trough Committee." This committee supervised the planting and, after vandalism, the replanting of a big blue marble trough for watering horses that historically stood at the center of Eastwick, where the two main streets met; the town was shaped like an L, fitted around its ragged bit of Narragansett Bay. Dock Street held the downtown businesses, and Oak Street at right angles to it was where the lovely big old homes were. Marge Perley, whose horrid canary-yellow For Sale signs leaped up and down on trees and fences as on the tides of eco­nomics and fashion (Eastwick had for decades been semi-depressed and semi-fashionable) people moved in and out of the town, was a heavily made-up, go-getting woman who, if one at all, was a witch on a different wavelength from Jane, Alexandra, and Sukie. There was a husband, a tiny fussy Homer Perley always trimming their forsythia hedge back to stubble, and this made a difference. "The papers were passed in Providence," Jane explained, pressing the nce hard into Alexandra's ear.

     

 

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