Wicked: Book summary and reviews of Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Wicked

The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

By Gregory Maguire

Wicked
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  • Published in USA  Oct 1995,
    416 pages.

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Book Summary

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Maguire combines puckish humor and bracing pessimism in this fantastical meditation on good and evil, God and free will, which should, despite being far removed in spirit from the Baum books, captivate devotees of fantasy." - Publishers Weekly.

"The multiple threads to the plot proceed unevenly, so that the pace of the story jumps rather than moves steadily forward. Wicked is not an easy rereading of The Wizard of Oz. It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy." - Library Journal.

"Listen up, Munchkins. Stop your singing, stop the dancing. The Wicked Witch is no longer dead. But not to worry. Gregory Maguire's shrewdly imagined and beautifully written first novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, not only revives her but re-envisions and redeems her for our times." - Newsday.

"... [a] magical telling of the land of Oz before and up to the arrival of Dorothy and company.... A captivating, funny, and perceptive look at destiny, personal responsibility, and the not-always-clashing beliefs of faith and magic. Save a place on the shelf between Alice and The Hobbit that spot is well deserved." - Kirkus Reviews.

"It's a staggering feat of wordcraft, made no less so by the fact that its boundaries were set decades ago by somebody else. Maguire's larger triumph here is twofold: First, in Elphaba, he has created (re-created? renovated?) one of the great heroines in fantasy literature: a fiery, passionate, unforgettable and ultimately tragic figure. Second, Wicked is the best fantasy novel of ideas I've read since Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast or Frank Herbert's Dune. Would that all books with this much innate consumer appeal were also this good. And vice versa." - Los Angeles Times.

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Author Information

Gregory Maguire Author Biography

Gregory Maguire is the author of five novels for adults and more than a dozen novels for children.

His adult novels, all published by HarperCollins, are Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995), praised by John Updike in the New Yorker as "an amazing novel," Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999); Lost (2001); Mirror Mirror (2003); and Son of a Witch, the sequel to Wicked, published in 2005.

Wicked has been developed as a big-budget Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, The Prince of Egypt, etc.).

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister was filmed for ABC/Disney and aired originally in the Spring of 2002. It starred Stockard Channing and Jonathan Pryce.

Mr. Maguire's work for adults and ...

... Full Biography
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Name Pronunciation
Gregory Maguire: ma-gwire (rhymes with liar)

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  • Son of a Witch jacket

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