if history is always written – or rewritten – by the winners (or the “good guys” right?), then how do we know the true tale behind the plight of the loser (the “bad guy”)? can you imagine a world in which the axis powers were the victors and what our history books might read? if i think about this question too long my brain starts to itch, but it’s the sort of question that leads to a book like gregory maguire’s wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west.
elphaba, better known as the wicked witch of the west, is one of the most complicated characters that i’ve ever encountered. is she an antihero? is she simply misunderstood? well, the answer isn’t at all that clear cut. she is as multifaceted as the dear friend that you adore but who is wretchedly ill-fated and infuriatingly rash. can you imagine her and galinda (later known as glinda) as best friends in college? this isn’t the only loop you’ll be thrown for as you follow elphaba from her childhood (as the razor-toothed little demon-child of a miserable little minister and his drug-addicted and adulterous wife), schooling (where she is a fierce Animal –as opposed to animal – rights activist), and beyond.
wicked is a surprisingly complex study of the *big* questions of morality on a highly metaphysical level. i was both delighted and depressed by elphaba’s honest struggle with her beliefs – or lack thereof – in the unnamed god, the afterlife and the human soul. she is intellectual but bizarre, striking and gruesome. love her or hate her, she is all-to-human and very easy to care about.
mamaT prefers bookmarks and cleanly kept books, but i am an avid page-folder of passages that i want to re-read. i haven’t earmarked a book like this in years. still, my take on the book might be summed up in this one heartbreaking passage. . .
He lingered at the door, and said, “The Lion wants courage, the Tin Man a heart, and the Scarecrow brains. Dorothy wants to go home. What do you want?”
“A little piece and quiet.”
She couldn’t say forgiveness, not to Liir…in the end what came out of her mouth surprised them both. She said, “A soul – ”
i strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the literary themes of isolation, forgiveness, and redemption. i’m off to begin the sequel, son of a witch. . .