Wednesday, June 11, 2014

She didn't know if she was going mad or going sane

It's been a little while since I finished Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby so I shall do the best I can with this review. Although as I begin this I realize the story has stuck with me more than others have so this shouldn't be too bad. Probably because I had a lot of positive feelings towards the book before even picking it up. See NBC did a miniseries (which I haven't seen BUT WOULD LIKE TO WATCH) and as part of the marketing the ebook was on sale AND I got a free cupcake. These were separate transactions but whatever. The bakery Crumbs was giving out free cupcakes as part of this, I like free things and cupcakes. What I'm saying is my loyalty can be bought fairly easily.

Odds are you already know the story here, so there are going to be some spoilers below, but they're light spoilers since I'm sure you already know what's going on. Housewife Rosemary and her struggling actor husband Guy move into an apartment with a sort of dark history. Guy makes friends with their creepy old neighbors who often seem to have weird music and chanting coming from their place. One night Rosemary dreams she's being raped by someone/something while her creepy neighbors look on and she wakes up the next morning with scratch marks all over and Guy saying he had sex with her while she was asleep cos you know, they don't want to miss their chance to conceive. Because Guy is terrible even though I'm pretty sure this wasn't supposed to be an example of him being terrible which makes you realize how messed up things were. Anyway, Rosemary gets pregnant and her neighbors are SUPER into her pregnancy and even suggest a doctor to her who gives her great advice like "Don't talk to ANYONE else about your pregnancy. Just me. That's not suspicious, right?" What was with Rosemary's dream? What is going on with her neighbors?

Even knowing how things turn out, this was still a suspenseful story. I would like to think that I would have guessed what the neighbors are up to long before Rosemary figures it out (cos Rosemary seems nice but not the brightest) but I could just be flattering myself. It's easy to assume I'd have it all figured out when I already know the ending. Rosemary is frustratingly trusting and naive, but not so much that her actions seemed out of character. So the suspense came less from trying to figure out what is going on and more when will Rosemary figure out what's going on. Levin does an excellent job portraying how alone Rosemary is. Sure she's naive but she also has no one. She doesn't talk to her family, she doesn't seem to have friends in NYC, or at least not ones she talks to very often. It's really just her husband. And given what I mentioned above, with the whole "sex while you're sleeping" thing that even knowing nothing else you probably figured out that he sucks. The tension builds slowly so you can see how it would take so long to figure out something isn't right.

Here are some random thoughts I had while reading this:

  • You had a chance to live in the Dakota and you turned it down for...literally any other apartment??? What is wrong with you? (In case you're confused, the Dakota is sort of my dream home.)
  • One month rent in advance plus one month rent for security deposit and that was only $583? I know it was a different time and money was worth a lot more but still. I just...I can't comprehend that. I can just get angry at it.
  • See, now this is why I don't talk to my neighbors. Who knows what they could be into and if things go sour, you have to MOVE to get away.
  • If your doctor's advice is ever "Only trust me and don't talk to anyone else" RUN AWAY QUICKLY. Not just on the off-chance you're hosting a demon spawn. Just general good advice.

There's a reason this story has remained popular for so long. Rosemary's Baby is excellent. It's a classic horror story that builds slowly. It's not really a scary story so much as a tense one. Even if you don't like horror stories I would recommend giving this one a try. It's a short book but it packs a lot in those few pages and knows not to overstay its welcome.

Now I should probably see the movie...

Levin, Ira. Rosemary's Baby. Pegasus Books, 2011. Kindle. Originally published 1967