This is a case where the movie is so different from the original novel that you will find yourself wondering if the person who wrote the screenplay ever read the book. The movie follows the book fairly faithfully for the first part, but after that, the movie takes a very different and much more feel good path.
But that aside, let's discuss the book as it is. The three witches are not particularly likeable. They are spiteful and vindictive. I guess I was dismayed at how much they talked about treasuring life, and then how quickly they would just kill someone or thing. I felt like Mr. Updike was trying to make some sweeping comment about humanity in general, but I never quite "got" it. It was almost as if, we had three different women, who just happened to be witches and we were given a look into how they would react if they really could make someone's life a living hell. As a character study, it was interesting. Jane seemed to be the most vindictive and hateful. Alexandra seemed the most caring, but even she had a vindictive streak that she usually felt sorry for after the fact. She managed to kill one day, and one squirrel just because they were irritating. Sukie struck me as the flaky one.
I feel that the novel was supposed to be an allegory, but I still found it a bit disturbing that the three witches were portrayed as quite so promiscuous. I just can't believe that in a small town, there could be three women that were having affairs with just about every married man in town and no one seemed to notice. It also seemed to be common knowledge that the three were witches and no one seemed to think that unusual.
In spite of the characters that aren't particularly likeable and the unbelievably of a lot of the novel, it still seems to draw you into the story and I found myself continuing to read, just to see how it all would end.