I was looking forward to reading this because I’m going to see the musical in Boston on November 3rd, and I wanted a more concrete understanding of the story before seeing it.
I enjoyed this take on The Wizard of Oz, as seen from the viewpoint of the Elphaba, later to be known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba was born in Munchkinland, a province of Oz, daughter to a Unionist minister and his privileged wife, a woman with what some called “loose morals”. She was born with green skin, extremely sharp teeth, and a very temperamental manner. Her father, Frex, thought Elphaba was his curse to bear, and Elphaba grew up feeling this guilt her entire life.
Eventually Elphie, as she was known to her friends, heads off to school at Shiz University in the Emerald City, where she meets Galinda, who later becomes known as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and some other key figures relating to Oz politics. Elphie has a very strong personality and develops some strong ideals for which she fights. After her sister Nessarose, who was born without arms and eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the East, joins her at Shiz, and their Ama is killed for witnessing something she shouldn’t, Elphie runs away, fearing that as the headmistress predicted, she’s being used as a pawn for the evil Wizard of Oz.
So Elphie begins a campaign of her own to right what she believes is wrong in the world. Her actions eventually cause the death of her lover and her life seems to go downhill from there.
I really felt for Elphie in this book. Maguire portrays her not as the evil witch we have all become so familiar with through the famous movie, but instead as a misunderstood but headstrong character with strong ideals which she defends to the very end!