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Rosemary's Baby


Ira Levin

Rosemary's Baby
average rating is 5 out of 5

Horror, Thriller, Supernatural

R. Alex Jenkins

Rosemary's Baby could be the ultimate gaslighting story about a woman who doesn't know what's going on around her because she chooses not to accept the red flags, or doesn't want to take anything too seriously because she's content with her rapidly improving life and status.

All those strange indications, overbearing neighbours and weird mishaps in her new apartment block, and even weirder warnings such as repugnant smelling charms and rhythmic chants and flute music coming through the walls at night.

It couldn't possibly be anything sinister could it, except when she's being slowly drugged, duped, deceived and man-handled for an ulterior motive beyond her knowledge and control!

What could possibly go wrong besides a normal pregnancy, impending birth and the start of a hopefully burgeoning family and years of bliss?

Oh, Rosemary.

Poor Rosemary, so trusting and such a sweetheart, brilliantly played and cast in the 1968 movie by Mia Farrow, released a year after the book was first published in 1967, having hardly aged a jot, as well as being mildly psychedelic, curiously erotic and fabulously acted, the question is, is the book half as good, just as good or even better than the movie?

That's a chicken and egg or Sixth Sense type of situation where reading/watching one is mildly going to spoil the other by already knowing the ending, which is the only negative I can find with a book that's so softly and intelligently written in such an easygoing manner, being far more focused on the life of Rosemary, her husband and her neighbourly interactions than direct horror.

Brooding horror, in your mind, psychological in your brain.

An amazing book that leads you by the hand from start to finish as Rosemary doubts herself, her friends, neighbours and the entire system as she becomes increasingly isolated in her fears and the diminishing groups of people she can confide in.

There are inevitably a few dated elements with a book written in 1966, including a very odd scene when gentlemen get their pipes and tobacco out and puff away without a care in the world, around a pregnant woman! This was the 1960s after all and no-one batted an eyelid when the Marlboro man commercials came on.

There are regular references to movies and actors from this period also, but nothing that takes away any enjoyment from a book that's never indulgent or pretentious, instead focused on Rosemary and her naive attitude towards sinister elements she's unable to understand.

And the entire book written from Rosemary's point of view is a welcome breath of fresh air.

And then there's Minnie, the interfering and domineering neighbour from hell that you want to throttle because she's obviously false and overbearing, pushing her way into Rosemary's life and basically controlling her, as a genuine parasite who isn't outwardly evil, but does good deeds for her own hidden agenda that Rosemary is too blind, hoodwinked and physically drugged to accept or see.

I recommend this book first and foremost as a lovely read , secondly as a slow-paced thriller with subtle surprises and terrific plot buildup if you've never seen the movie before. Forget 1966, this is a brilliant modern thriller that's relevant today and probably always will be.

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