Rhode Island 

Represent: The Witches of Eastwick- John Updike

This book is wacky, wacky, wacky from beginning to end. It’s a car crash of witchcraft and erotic fiction, I can’t say I enjoyed any of it! As one of John Updike’s most popular novels, the adaptations have also been a mixed bag. Three attempts have been made to turn it into a television series, the most recent in 2009, it was cancelled halfway through. The transformation of the story line into a musical was more of a hit, being performed on stages in Australia and the USA. But probably the most well known and liked is the 1987 film starring; Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer. 

Alexandra Spofford, Jane Smart, and Sukie Rougemont live in Eastwick, a fictional town in Rhode Island. On divorcing or being divorced by their husbands, magical powers are bestowed upon them, which they use to inflict mischief on the coastal town. The routines of their friendship are interrupted when a new bachelor arrives, buying a dilapidated mansion just outside of the small town. Daryl Van Horne: dark, curious and artistic, seduces the three women by arranging an impromptu party in his teak bathtub. Spending time with their new neighbour causes a surge in their magical powers, unintentionally bringing suicide, death and divorce upon their community.

They come to an unspoken agreement to share Daryl, that is until a young lady called Jenny upsets the balance by unexpectedly marrying him. They converge to create a spell to take revenge on her and allow them to restore their scandalous normality as a quartet. In the end the voodoo doll with the pins works, Jenny dies and the widower runs off with her brother. The witches attempt to return their lives to normal but in the end, wish for their perfect man and leave town, going their separate ways. Bizarre through and through. 

As for representing Rhode Island, there definitely seems like the state has some potential for some strange witchcraft in the past, It is such a historical place. In fact, In my searching I uncovered a whole thesis written about the “Supernatural Folklore of Rhode Island” in 1956 by a student of the University of Rhode Island. It’s safe to say I won’t be reading any more John Updike novels but I might give the film a try, I think Jack Nicholson would make an excellent strange bachelor!  

Most Read: Raylan, A Novel- Elmore Leonard

The gloomy front cover gave me false hope for a gripping tale of mafia shenanigans. The low lying hat, the dark suit and the cocked gun all spoke of shady incidents in alleyways and of unfortunate souls ending up in local rivers. It all made sense in my mind as Providence, the state capital of Rhode Island, has a long history of organised crime involving Italian families. But alas, it was to be another crime thriller. 

As I’ve said before, any books with murder involved, then count me in. But when the story is set in rural Kentucky, is brimming with moonshine and every page contains someone who carries a sawn-off shot gun, then I‘m not so eager to join the party. With many mini sagas within one book, it was all a bit much. By the time I’d got to know the characters and figured out what they were saying in their country accents, Raylan had already solved the case and moved onto the next. Kidney stealing rednecks, mining executives ordering hits, glamorous bank robbers and professional gamblers on the run, is a lot to cram into one book. The writing style was interesting though. Many of the words were spelt as they would be said by someone with that sort of accent, grammar was also sacrificed throughout the book to keep the flow of the story going. 

‘Raylan’ was the final novel published by Elmore Leonard before his death in 2013. Confusingly, it was based on a television series called ‘Justified’ that was based on one of Leonard’s short stories called ‘Fire in the Hole.’ He began writing in the 1950’s, publishing Western novels for 10 years before switching to crime fiction and suspense thrillers. During his career he was incredibly successful, selling tens of millions of copies of his work and having 26 of them adapted for the screen. The most well known being; 3:10 to Yuma, Joe Kidd and Get Shorty.