The Witches of Eastwick

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The Witches of Eastwick
First edition cover
AuthorJohn Updike
CountryUnited States
Publication date
April 12, 1984
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
813/.54 19
LC ClassPS3571.P4 W5 1984
Followed byThe Widows of Eastwick 

The Witches of Eastwick is a 1984 novel by American writer John Updike. A sequel, The Widows of Eastwick, was published in 2008.


The story, set in the fictional Rhode Island town of Eastwick in the late 1960s, follows the witches Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart, and Sukie Rougemont, who acquired their powers after leaving or being left by their husbands (although Alexandra is a widow). Their coven is upset by the arrival of Darryl Van Horne, who buys a neglected mansion outside of town. The mysterious Darryl seduces each of the women, encouraging their creative powers and creating a scandal in the town. The power of the three witches grows, so much so that they unknowingly bewitch the townsfolk they come in contact with. This becomes clear when Sukie's lover and boss, Clyde Gabriel, kills his busybody wife Felicia before hanging himself.

The three women share Darryl in relative peace until he unexpectedly marries their young, innocent friend, Jenny, the Gabriels' daughter. The witches resolve to take revenge by giving her cancer through their magic. Although Alexandra feels remorse for their hex, the spell kills Jenny and Darryl flees town with her younger brother, Chris, apparently his lover. In his wake, he leaves their relationships strained and their sense of self in doubt. Eventually, each summons her ideal man and leaves town.

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

Updike described his novel as "about female power, a power that patriarchal societies have denied." Many scholars viewed it as strongly pro-feminist, "an intelligent engagement with feminism, and a rare case of a male novelist writing from women's points of view." [1] Some have expressed concern that the book may be misogynistic, as it seems to reinforce the patriarchal conceptions of women as witches and of women requiring a man for personal growth; others believe that the book may be more of a satire of such ideas.[2]

At the same time, there were those who praised the novel as a departure from John Updike's previous novels. [1]

Film, television, and theatrical adaptations[edit]