by Sukey HowardFebruary, 2005
It takes a village
John Updike is one of my favorite writers and, I think, one of the finest chroniclers of the marital morals and malfunctions of the last 50 years. Couples (which I have to admit I read over 30 years ago, long before audio books were a part of everyday life) still stands as a brilliant evocation of sex, love and adultery as practiced by the upper-middle-class inhabitants of a small New England town during the '60s. Villages, Updike's 21st novel, expertly read by Edward Herrmann, returns to a similar town of tony WASPs, charting the career sexual and professional of one of its septuagenarian citizens, Owen Mackenzie. And charting his never-ending adoration of women, from the first fumblings in the front seat of a car in rural Pennsylvania, where Owen (and Updike) grew up, through his marriages and many infidelities with all their steamy secrets and potential scandal. This is Updike country and he's the best guide to it.