Sunday, Sep. 07, 2008

The Widows of Eastwick

After the strenuous, range-stretching exercise of Terrorist, which was a bestseller but only a middling success as a novel John Updike has returned to his strengths. At the end of The Witches of Eastwick, the three lusty housewives had magically created husbands for themselves and then dispersed to the ends of the earth. But as Updike writes in Widows: "Wicked methods make weak products. Satan counterfeits Creation, yes, but with inferior goods." The husbands eventually die, and the three witches — Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie — return to Eastwick to pay off some old debts. Updike chronicles the slow decay of age with the same peerless, merciless eloquence that he brought to the feverish couplings of youth.