For years, this book has sat on my bookshelf.
It has lived with me all this time; packed up and moved through three different cities and two different states. I bought it used at Hastings bookstore in Mountain Home, Arkansas, when taking a little trip there with my parents and cousins (again, years ago). Trust me when I say I always have the best of intentions about reading any book I purchase, because:
a.) MONEY: my life was forever altered when, working on my Master’s degree in Library Science, I strove to live responsibly on my small income, and therefore purchased mostly used books. The brand new, full priced book was a rare treat.
b.) ACQUISITION: as a librarian I can usually find any given book through either our University library, the public library, or InterLibrary Loan, any of these options equaling the price of FREE. If I have read the book and loved it, then I feel like the decision to purchase my own copy is more significantly warranted.
c.) SPACE: being married and combining the possessions of two grown adults means our living space has to be managed with more furnishings than just books (although, we do have books in practically every room of the house). This means I’m more content to keep my favorites near and not grow sad when I rotate my menagerie of tomes to another home and loving reader.
And yet, there are a small collection of books I’ve purchased, never read, and hung onto for years at a time. My reader’s gut has known the day would come when I would finally be ready to commit myself – my time, attention, and energy – into submerging my imagination into the wonderful world of Oz.
There are two added bonuses in my experience of reading Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West:
1.) The Optometrist and I recently saw the Broadway touring production of the musical.
My initiation came when I first heard “For Good,” fell in love with the song, and bought the original Broadway cast recording in 2006 (read that blog entry here). This was probably my motivation to purchase the book, again with the best of intentions to have read it sooner. So here I’ve been all this time, knowing and loving the songs, having the novel on the shelf, but never knowing how the rest of the story played out of what happened in Oz before Dorothy’s arrival. What a treat it was to finally understand everything in complete context! The Optometrist and I both loved the show – the costumes, sets, acting, singing, and the live orchestra in the pit!
2.) Since we’re now both completely in the know of the overall plot from the musical, my sweet husband suggested we read the book together. We’ve not endeavored on such a mission since our premarital counseling days, and while I can’t say there’s any comparison whatsoever between The Five Love Languages and Wicked, I’m thoroughly enjoying the chance to read to him, have him read to me, discuss details of the plot, and contrasts between the stage show and the original inspiration. We’ve finished the first section, Munchkinlanders, and just started the second portion, Gillikin. These are a few differences we’ve noticed so far between the musical and the book:
**might contain spoilers**
Frexspar, Elphaba’s father, is portrayed as a government official in Munchkinland | strained relationship with Elphaba, high expectations of her | brief appearance on stage | Frex is a religious minister who travels and preaches around Munchkinland | distant from his family, more concerned with parishioners | much character development
we know Elphaba is an illegitimate child | we have reasons to question her sister’s parentage as well
Elphaba’s family is portrayed as having a modicum of wealth | Elphaba’s mother, Melina, came from a privileged background, but when she married Frex, beneath her station, this meant Elphaba grew up less affluently
Galinda is immediately accepted with fanfare when she arrives at Shiz | she exhibits self-doubt, posesses desire but a lack of ambition, and is slower to establish herself socially
NessaRose arrives at Shiz with Elphaba | we know Elphaba’s mother Melina was expecting another child, but as the reader know of nothing else | at Elphaba’s arrival at Shiz, she is by herself
So finally, after ten years of waiting to see and read Wicked, I can say it’s come at just the right time and has been well worth the wait.