Monday, 7 March 2011

Book: Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory McGuire


Ok sorry, just wanted to warn you because I'm planning on talking about the book in quite some detail, and that is including the differences between the musical and the book (which are quite substantial!) So this could be a long one, and I am DEFINATLY recommending you read it, it is almost a completely different story to the musical so give it a go, it can get quite political though, and there are some referances to sex, and many references to violance throughout the novel.

A copy of the front cover, the one I wish I had anyway, I have to musical front cover, which isn't actually that bad, it could just be counted as a cover re-design:

Elphaba - or the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba is of Munchkin decent, though unlike in the film The Wizard of Oz, Munchkins vary in size depending on their social rank, so Elphaba (and her sister and brother) is normal size as she is the Thropp Third Descending, so third in line (after her grandfather and mother) to be Eminant Thropp, the ruling family of Munchkin Land. Elphaba doesn't become Eminant Thropp on her Grandfather's death, the position goes to her younger sister Nessarose as Elphaba is presumed dead, though after Nessarose's death Glinda says that Elphaba is the last true Eminant Thropp (though the postion was abolished after Nessarose's death. Elphaba attends Shiz University though she doesn't return after an audience with the Wizard in her 2nd/3rd year, and then becomes a political activist, later when she meets Fiyero she enters into an affair with him (he was married). After his untimely death she lives in the equivalent of a nunnery, where she said there are 2 years that she can't remember, and it is heavily hinted that Liir, a young boy who accompanies her to the Vinkus, is actually her and Fiyero's son, this is apparently confirmed in the other novels which I haven't read. Elphaba travels to the Vinkus (Fiyero's homeland) with Liir, to seek the forgiveness of Fiyero's wife Sarima, and ends up living with them, though after visiting Nessarose (who had become the Wicked Witch of the East) and her father, Frex, she returns to find Sarima, Irji and Nor (Fiyero's children) have been kidnapped, it later turns out that all but Nor have been executed, Irji publically through the use of a Pariffin Necklace (though it is unclear what that actually ism, here is some speculation from fans - NOT for anyone particularly squeamish)

When Dorothy comes to Oz, killing Nessarose in the process, she travels to Kiamo Ko (Fiyero's ancestrial home and now where Elphaba, Liir and Elphaba's old Nanny live) and accidentaly kills Elphaba by throwing a bucket of water over her (which Elphaba is allergic to) when Elphaba accidentaly sets herself on fire, and so Elphaba dies. Oh yes...Elphaba is GREEN!

How the Musical is different:

  • Elphaba isn't mentioned as being Munchkin Nobility and only goes to Shiz to look after Nessarose in the musical, whereas in the book she is at Shiz for nearly 2 years before Nessarose joins her, due to the fact that Ama Clutch, Galinda (later Glinda)'s Ama, dies and the two girls need Elphaba/Nessa's Nanny to supervise them there.
  • Nessarose's is in a wheelchair in the musical, whereas in the book her disability is that she is armless, however in both cases the shoes given to her by Frex are enchanted allowing her to balance and walk unaided, though in the musical this is done by Elphaba, while in the book it is done by Glinda
  • Elphaba's magical ability is natural in the musical, whereas in the book, though she does have a small talent, it does take more work to manifest itself, and it is later in life that she turns to sorcery.
  • Fiyero himself is remarkable different, in the book he is the Prince of a tribe, and already married when he arrives at Shiz (though he didn't live with his wife yet), and was reserved and quiet. He is described as darker skin with blue diamand tatoos, typical of his tribespeople. However in the musical he seems to take on more of the characteristics of Avaric (who doesn't appear in the musical) who is Gilikanese Nobility (like Glinda, but a higher social rank) and is described as extremely handsome and quite self absorbed.
  • Also in the musical Fiyero starts a relationship with Galinda, and even becomes engaged to her at the start of the second half, before he runs off with Elphaba to start a relationship. 
  • Though Fiyero is dragged off in the musical, he isn't killed as in the book, but instead he is turned into the scarecrow that travels with Dorothy, through a spell by Elphaba (the song No Good Deed), whereas in the book Elphaba belives, or rather hopes, that the scarecrow is Fiyero in disguise (which it isn't!)
  • Galinda (Glinda) shows no talent for sorcery in the musical, whereas in the book she appears to be a quite succesful soceress.
  • The Tin Man in the book is a man called Nick Chopper who's axe is cursed by Nessarose on the request of a Munchkin mother, whereas in the musical Boq is turned into the Tin Man by Elphaba in order to keep him alive after Nessarose cast a spell on him that stopped his heart (she couldn't read the spell properly so cast it wrong.)
  • Boq is always infactuated with Glinda in the musical, whereas in the book he quickly moves on and ends up married to one of their other friends Milla
  • In the musical Boq asks Nessarose to a dance, which starts a relationship that turns into Nessa keeping Boq near her, whereas in the book there is no actual suggestion of a relationship of any kind between them.
  • The group of Shiz friends aren't all there in the musical, Fiyero, Elphaba, Glinda, Boq and Nessarose are all present but the others that are missing are: Milla, Pfannee, Shenshen, Avaric, Crope and Tibet
  • Also missing is Turtle Heart, a Quadling who is suggested to be Nessarose's real father, it is known that he and Melena (Nessa, and Elphaba's mother) had an affair, though it is also suggested that Frex and Turtle Heart had an affair too, it is said that both Melena and Frex loved him.
  • The final set of missing people is Sarima, Irji, Nor, Manek and the sisters (Two, Three, Four, Five and Six), Sarma being Fiyero's wife, then his two sons, his daughter (Nor) and his sisters-in-law. Liir Elphaba and Fiyero's son is also missing.
  • In the musical Elphaba places the title Wicked Witch of the West on herslef, even though she hadn't really done much evil, whereas in the book she is called that because Nessarose becomes known as the Wicked Witch of the East, because she actually did do wicked things, and was a bit a tyrant.
  • In the book Munchkin land becomes a seperate state to the rest of Oz, away from the tyranny of the Wizard (and into that of Nessarose)
  • Elphaba dies in the book, but in the musical she doesn't, she fakes her death but is then saved by Fiyero in his scarcrow form.
Ok so you know where on Earth all these places are I've found a copy of the map, sorry that its not going to be very clear, you can just about make out Kiamo Ko to the West, near the top. This isn't how I imagine it, but I prefer the layouts in my head, but I can't show them to you!

I would definatly recommend this book, READ IT, it is AMAZING!!! Sorry if I've bored you, there's just so much happening in this book and this is nowhere near a complete summery of anything!!!

I reckon a trip to ebay now for a look at how much Son of a Witch will cost me, thats the sequel, I think I'll try this one but the one after that A Lion Amoung Men, doesn't sound so interesting to me!!!

Til Next Time,
L x