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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995)

by Gregory Maguire

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Wicked Years (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
28,84665096 (3.57)1 / 641
This re-creation of the land of Oz, tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Wicked just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.… (more)
  1. 283
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (TuesdayNovember, lucien, sturlington)
    lucien: An obvious choice and one that's already listed. I will add that if your only exposure to the original is the film, I'd recommend this short read. There are several ideas Maguire plays with that are only in the book.
  2. 103
    A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (KrazySkaterChick)
  3. 105
    Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Kerian)
  4. 52
    The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (joyfulgirl)
  5. 63
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (Shuffy2)
  6. 41
    Grendel by John Gardner (mcenroeucsb)
    mcenroeucsb: Both are books that give you the "bad guy" take on classic tales.
  7. 31
    Was by Geoff Ryman (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: Set more in the 'real world' this re-telling of Oz compares three protagonists: a gay male actor with AIDS, a girl called Dorothy who a fictional L. Frank Baum 'created' Oz for, and a makeup girl on the set of the original film version film who encounters Judy Garland.… (more)
  8. 20
    The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (mhmolinaro)
  9. 32
    A Barnstormer In Oz by Philip José Farmer (jonathankws)
    jonathankws: This retelling/sequel to the Wizard of Oz focuses on Dorothy's son who returns to Oz by accident.
  10. 11
    A Nameless Witch by A. Lee Martinez (infiniteletters)
  11. 11
    The Librarian (Book Two: Unhappily Ever After) by Eric Hobbs (Othemts)
  12. 11
    The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (thenothing)
  13. 35
    Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (khoov00)
    khoov00: This book seems to appeal to some with the same sense of humor as it would take to appreciate the book Wicked.
  14. 516
    1984 by George Orwell (hayfa)

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Group TopicMessagesLast Message 
 Someone explain it to me...: Wicked18 unread / 18LynnB, January 2013

» See also 641 mentions

English (641)  Spanish (7)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hungarian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (651)
Showing 1-5 of 641 (next | show all)
I first read this book a number of years ago, and I didn't like it. I wanted more Dorothy and less Oz Politics. Than I forgot most of the plot, including Elphaba's little sister, Nessarose.

So on a reread, I found it a completely different book, a story about trying to do the right thing, but completely screwing up or timing issues, with people dying due to these screw ups. It is a heartbreaking tale, from being used to make a point about religion form a parent, to losing connections to a point of pride.

Elphaba becoming the witch isn't so much about good and evil, its about losing what ones values, not black and white, but grey and grey - its impossible to make good choices when the world you live in is so bleak.

Oddly enough, this is one of those books that explains the real world - using religious intolerance, colonization, fascism, all starting with a years long drought that causes famine and income loss, it is analogy for our world.

Also, I still want more Dorothy....... :) ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Mar 30, 2024 |
If I could, I would give this less than 1 star. It was really a disgusting, confusing book. I picked it up because I love the musical; the name is the only thing this has in common with that. The only reason I even finished it (& still have it) because finishing books is a personal rule of mine. I still have my copy because I am totally against trashing or burning books, but it's so disgusting I would never pass it on to anyone else. ( )
3 vote blakelylaw | Mar 3, 2024 |
Have tried reading this twice now and it's just not grabbing me at all. Probably the transphobia. ( )
  LaurenThemself | Feb 20, 2024 |
I can't decide whether this book is wicked good (it feels brainy -- it has philosophy and politics and some great satire parts) or badly written and pretentious. The jumps in time estranged me as reader from the characters. I'm glad I kept on reading because in the last 50 pages some things became a bit more clear.

I have a huge crush on Turtleheart. ( )
  jd7h | Feb 18, 2024 |
DNF -- so much promise, so much detailed and expansive writing, and yet i'm 85 pages in and almost nothing has happened. i'm still being introduced to someone who is likely the main character, and only just spotted another protagonist... maybe i'll finish later, but i'd like my books to have some reasonable pacing, not act like every little thing and person needs an encyclopaedic backstory... ( )
  travelgirl-fics | Feb 11, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 641 (next | show all)
Although Mr. Maguire demonstrates a knack for conjuring up bizarre adventures for Elphie and introducing her to an eccentric cast of creatures (though nowhere near as enchanting as the many creatures Baum invented in his multiple sequels to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), his insistence on politicizing Oz and injecting it with a heavy dose of moral relativism turns a wonderfully spontaneous world of fantasy into a lugubrious allegorical realm, in which everything and everyone is labeled with a topical name tag.
With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Instead, she's an insecure, unfortunately green Munchkinlander who's willing to take radical steps to unseat the tyrannical Wizard of Oz. Using an appropriately brusque voice for the always blunt Elphaba, McDonough relates her tumultuous childhood (spent with an alcoholic mother and a minister father) and eye-opening school years (when she befriends her roommate, Glinda). McDonough's pacing remains frustratingly slow even after the plot picks up, and Elphaba's protracted ruminations on the nature of evil will have some listeners longing for an abridgement. Still, McDonough's excellent portrayals of Elphaba's outspoken, gravel-voiced nanny and Glinda's snobbish friends make this excursion to Oz worthwhile
added by kthomp25 | editPublisher's Weekly

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gregory Maguireprimary authorall editionscalculated
Avirom, JoelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Tis very strange Men should be so fond of being thought wickeder than they are. -Daniel Defoe, A System of Magick
In historical events great men--so called--are but the labels that serve to give a name to an event, and like labels, they have the last possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity. -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, War and Peace
"Well," Said the head, "I will give you your answer. You have no right to expect me to send you back to Kansas unless you do something for me in return. In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you." "What must I do?" asked the girl. "Kill the wicked Witch of the West," answered Oz. -L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
This book is for Betty Levin and for all those who
taught me to love and fear goodness.
First words
A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of the land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.
"Maybe the definition of home is the place where you are never forgiven, so you may always belong there, bound by guilt. And maybe the cost of belonging is worth it."
"Ah, we're slow learners, Nanny countered. But they can't learn at all" (p.12).
"You're not so bold at all," said Elphaba, "you're about as bold as tea made from used leaves" (p.129)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
ISBN 0349117993 is for A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

This re-creation of the land of Oz, tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so wicked after all. Past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Wicked just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, comes of age in the land of Oz, rooming with debutante Glinda at the university, and following a path in life that earns her the label of Wicked.
Haiku summary
A witch is a witch
Not evil - not understood
So men will kill her

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