Puritanism had landed smack on that rock and after regaining its strength at the expense of the soft-hearted Indians had thrown its steeples and stone walls all across Connecticut, leaving Rhode Island to the Quakers and Jews and antinomians and women.
The Witches of Eastwick, originally published in 1984, is the story of three divorcées stirring up a coastal Rhode Island town in the Vietnam era. Liberated from their husbands, they have become witches, in touch with a feminine power murkily bound to nature. Alexandra, the oldest of the three at 38, is the mother figure of the coven. Jane, a cellist, is sharp and angry; Sukie, a gossip columnist, fiery and youthful. All are mothers and all neglect their children—it is striking how long it takes the children to appear at all in the novel, and when they do it is only to annoy the women and ruin their fun on their own. They seem to like fecundity, maternity, and babies, but children are only a weight to tie them down, a responsibility they don’t want, and possibly a reminder of the husbands they are thrilled to be without. Much more important to have their regular Thursday girls’ night together than to do real grocery shopping and cook a family dinner.
The book opens with Jane breaking the news to Alexandra: there’s a new man in town. This really is news, as the witches have already seduced and had affairs with nearly all the men in Eastwick (mostly married). The new arrival, Darryl Van Horne, is strange and abrasive, initially turning Alexandra off. But he seems determined to befriend all three women, and wants them all to spend time in his rehabbed island mansion, with games of mixed doubles soon turning to marijuana-fueled orgies in a
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