The new book finds the women some 30 years on. All have since remarried, and been subsequently widowed, and are now facing the prospect of old age and solitude. They return to Eastwick, where their arrival reawakens old enmities and a final reckoning for the fatal spell they cast 30 years before. Very much a light-spirited entertainment, The Widows of Eastwick, Updike says, was partly conceived as a corrective to the film of The Witches, which was seen much more widely than the book was read, and which, partly thanks to the most hammy performance Jack Nicholson (as Van Horne) has ever given in his career, played much more as camp farce than the sardonic social observation Updike had intended.
'I didn't think it was very good,' he says. 'Under Nicholson's stardom the focus shifted from the women, who are what my book was about. So yes, I did want to respond to that. Writing a sequel is a way of dealing with time; it's an attempt to say something about the long curve of life and what it does to us, and how with any luck we survive it, so in the end, as Proust says, we get on these great stilts of time - tottering around.'
Friday, October 24, 2008
In The Daily Telegraph, Mick Brown talks to American novelist John Updike about his new book, The Widows Of Eastwick.