About the Book
Witch was written while the author was a graduate student in the MFA program at Vermont College. The story, set in an imaginary town in New York State’s Hudson River Valley, is alternately narrated by sixty-something Irene Richards and her thirty-five year old daughter Shirleen McClure, as they cope with events and each other during one year that begins and ends on Halloween. The novel is peppered with elements of magic realism, inspired by Irene’s sudden interest in witchcraft and how to introduce her newly-acquired skills into her daily routine.
In a comedy of errors, Irene completes a mail-order course in the Craft, and enlists the aid of a 700-year old sorceress, Moldred of Breste, to enact revenge on her unfaithful husband, Teddy, who is recuperating from a stroke and is confined to a nursing home. Shirleen convinces her mother to sell their house and move in with her; Deke, her rough-and-tumble husband; and their son Junior, who’s very attached to his grandmom. Along comes Rolfe, a handsome French-Canadian house painter, and Shirleen is smitten.
Alas, the course of true love never runs smooth. Several months pass. Shirleen tours Montreal with her French club, and who should appear? Deke tries to phone her, but she can’t be reached. The tour guide is scandalized.
Two days later, a contrite Shirleen returns home. Good thing, too: Irene has developed a bogus bath product that will make her famous. When customers discover the ruse, a repentant Irene seeks solace in a neopagan lifestyle, but soon becomes disenchanted with life in a coven. Ultimately, she forgives Teddy, who has recovered his health and become a caterer.
The story concludes with the Wiccan marriage ceremony of Irene’s grandson, Junior, and his pregnant girlfriend, Antoinette, the daughter of Teddy’s former mistress, Rosalie. To everyone’s delight, Shyrena Rose is born with midwyffe Moldred in attendance (is there no limit to this witch’s talents?) At the novel’s conclusion, Irene, having rediscovered the pleasures of traditional family life, contemplates a future without neopaganism that might even include Teddy.