Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

This one is a keeper. I’ve added it to my list of favorite books. Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.


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I must admit, I am a late bloomer as a Wicked fan. Had there been no Glee, I might never have learned of this tale. I loved that episode, and I’ve since loved the song Defying Gravity. Since then I have prayed that someone takes the musical to the Philippines. I really wouldn’t miss it. I’ve already missed Saigon, Mamma Mia, and recently The Sound of Music. If Wicked comes to Manila, I won’t be able to forgive myself for missing it! But that is a dream for now. I wonder if the movie version is finally being filmed? Rumors have circulated for years, yet still it hasn’t come out. The original Broadway cast have matured and critics are saying they’re too old to be cast in the film.

Then I realized that there IS a way for me to find out the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West. The musical was based on a novel! Thanks to a book sale earlier this year, I finally got my copy. Smile 

The book’s claims are true, I now cannot look at Oz the same way I did when all I knew of Oz was Dorothy’s story. It is amazing how the author painted a picture of good and evil, reminding us that  they’re  not always as different from each other as black and white.

Wicked is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West. The very one that Dorothy conquered, upon orders of the great Wizard of Oz. In Wiz, we are just told that the witch (or witches, for that matter) was vile, and enslaved the inhabitants of their realm. In Wicked, we find out who they really are and what they stood for. There was no denial of the title, let them call her the Wicked Witch. But in what way was she wicked? What were her crimes?

When I first picked up the book to read it, I couldn’t go farther than maybe the first chapter. I couldn’t make anything of it. The words were floating over me. I gave it a rest, and tried again a few weeks later. The second time turned out to be the right time. Everything clicked, and the story unfolded before my eyes.

Elphaba is such a character. I just love her! For a girl as different as she is, she sure grew up to be quite the confident young woman. There definitely is no one like her. I wonder though why the aversion to water? Where had it come from? That’s something that Maguire didn’t bother to explain (or did I miss it?).

As for Glinda, I thought for sure she was going to be the Wicked Witch! I don’t understand why Elphaba wouldn’t give upon her. Well at least she didn’t stand by her snobbish friends when they pulled a mean prank on her green roomie. They were such an odd pair as roomies, and later on as friends. I think they had quite an interesting school life. One without a P.E. subject, hehe. There were no Sports in Shiz. But come to think of it, there didn’t seem to be any Sports played in the whole of Oz. None that was written about. So naturally, there were no gossiping by the gym lockers! Haha Smile I did wish to see Elphie finish school though, and maybe even finish the experiments and studies of Doctor Dillamond. Her going underground to join the rebellion had come too soon.

I really thought it was Boq that Elphie would fall in love with. But I am happy enough that she got to know love, and she got to feel wanted, even for just a few months. We never really got to know just how deeply she felt for Fiyero until the end. No surprise too that she didn’t know how to be a mother, she didn’t have much of an example to follow. But was it clear in the end, at least to Liir, that Auntie Witch was really Mother? Would he ever find Nor? Will he be a prince of the Arjiki?

Upon reading the last page of this book, I had the itch to reread The Wizard of Oz. I did, and it paled in comparison. Of course, they shouldn’t really be compared. One was written for kids, while the other is a retelling meant for an older audience perhaps. But I still can’t help but compare. Baum’s original fairy tale lacked the depth and vividness that Maguire’s Oz has.  The Oz of Wicked is indeed the 3D version as this review remarked. Though it is still definitely more of a fantasy, I must say that Maguire brought a lot of realism into Oz.


Eds said...

I haven't read this blog. But i would love to have a peak on it.. thanks for sharing!