Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire, is a well developed fictional biography of Elphaba, the green witch. The writing is enticing because it pertains to present day politics in a fictional psychology. I really did want to see what was happening next with this incredible family from the Land of Oz. The characters looks and personalities are described so vividly, as well as the landscape, that the plot really evolves in a surprising fashion. Maguire plays with words in an honest and humorous manner, "Walk softly but marry a big prick. A man draping his evening tie on a bedstead and rolling his diamond studs, nudging them with his nose, down the declivity of her superior neck . . . It was a dream, Madame Morrible couldn't have said that!" (pg. 161).
Some parts of the novel were slow and a bit depressing, but it wasn't a happy journey that the Wicked Witch of the West traveled. Elphaba definitely has a dark side, yet her fierce independence triumphs her tragic life journey. This isn't a quick read because it is so thought stimulating (moral questions, political ramifications, godd vs evil, etc.), that the reader needs to pause and contemplate, or just stop and laugh at the tongue-in-cheek conversations. So, it can get long to read.
A green girl (Elphaba) is born in the Land of Oz to parents (Frex and Melena) who each lead very separate lives. Frex is a minister who is often away from home, and Melena takes her pleasure with another man while Frex is gone. Eventually that other man is well liked by Frex, and considered a good friend. Meanwhile Elphaba grows up greatly ignored for her odd looks (totally green), and other odd features until she is finally sent off to a college. At the same time she is ignored, she is also looked at curiously, and treated negatively as a deformed child. She is odd in that she can't abide water, yet she manages to have beautiful hair, and stay clean.
College life provides the characters ( Glinda, Madame Morrible, Boq, Fiyero), including Nessarose (her sister) who profoundly entwine her life journey to becoming the Witch of the West. She is so very brilliant intellectually and so very closed heart wise when she first attends the school. Eventually she lets love in, only to lose it to the cruel political regime that the Wizard of Oz has placed upon the fantastic land where Animals are lowered to animals, and the poor are terrified daily. She goes underground again for 7 years in a convent.
From her choice to leave the convent comes the greater evolution of her witchiness. She is in great pain still, from losing her lover whom she believes was killed because of her anonymous endeavors to bring down the Wizard's regime. The rest of her journey is about trying to absolve herself from her guilt. This is not an easy or non-violent road she travels. It does bring alive the darkness of Oz, and Dorothy (who inadvertently kills her), an abused Tin Man, a child who may or may not be hers, and some reconciliation with her family.
The story does make sense as to who very well could have been the true Wicked Witch of the West , and how she put forth such a human challenge to our perceptions of moral virtue. I recommend this for anyone wanting a fantastic read (or a broader brain).