When published in 1967, Rosemary's Baby was one of the first contemporary horror novels to become a national bestseller. Ira Levin's second novel (he went on to write such fine thrillers as A Kiss Before Dying,The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil), Rosemary's Baby, remains perhaps his best work. The author's mainstream "this is how it really happened" style undeniably also made the novel his most widely imitated. The plot line is deceptively simple: What if you were a happily married young woman, living in New York, and one day you awoke to find yourself pregnant? And what if your loving husband had--apparently--sold your soul to Satan? And now you were beginning to believe that your unborn child was, in reality, the son of Satan? Levin subtly makes it all totally plausible, unless of course, dear Rosemary--or the reader--can no longer distinguish fantasy from reality! A wonderfully chilling novel, it was later faithfully transformed into an equally unnerving motion picture. In 1997, a sequel was spawned, Son of Rosemary.
Let's set the scene...
Rory is cleaning out her locker in preparation for her departure from Stars Hollow High and her arrival at the hallowed halls of the more prestigious Chilton Academy. As expected, Rory's locker is chock full of book and she experiences a little trouble carrying them all. She is stooped over to pick up the books she just dropped... and this is when we are first introduced to Dean Forrester. Dean would go on to be Rory's first (and third) boyfriend.
Rory: God! You're like Ruth Gordon just standing there with a tannis root. Make a noise.
Dean: Rosemary's Baby.
Dean: Well, that's a great movie. You've got good taste.
In my mind, there is no better hallmark of an excellent author than someone who can write simply and still invoke a feeling in the reader that is primevil and rooted deep within. Ira Levin, without flowery or descriptive language, was able to hook me in and instill an instinctual and very real fear. His prose isn't particularly well-written, however the story he tells is captivating, terrifying and told in a way that awakens an ancient understanding of the fear of not being believed when it is a matter of life or death. The central idea in this story was so sensational that poetic writing and the liberal use of adjectives were simply not necessary.
I began this book at approximately 10:30 one night. When I went to pick it up for my next reading at about 8 o'clock the next evening, I found that I only had six pages left. And, as is an indication of a good story, it actually disappointed me that my time at The Bramford was coming to a close. Levin lured me into his world with what seemed to be so little effort. He wrote a simple, straightforward tale that had me absolutely rivoted from page one.
Although not a religious person, Levin served as an incredible, objective conduit for a classic good versus evil tale. The interesting thing about this particular story is... you can't tell who wins! In fact, it could be argued that, at the end of Rosemary's Baby, both good and evil attempt to live harmoniously. Usually, stories of this nature tend to conclude with a clear victor. Occassionally it is evil... most often than not, it is good. I enjoyed that Ira allowed room in this book for both sides to grow, flourish and accomplish their individual goals.
An interesting aside: the book I have previously mentioned as being most terrified of on the Black, White & Read Book Challenge list was mentioned not once, but twice in this novel. Although I think it was Ira Levin's way of messing with my head even more, the references actually gave me a little more confidence in regards to my future experiences with all six volumes of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Rosemary, although good-hearted, seems to be a simple country girl. Within the telling of this story, she completed volumes one and two. If someone who is dumb enough to get knocked up by the devil can do it... I'd like to believe that I can too! Mr. Levin better not be steering me wrong!
Lane would definitely appreciate Rosemary's Baby... any rocker chick would. And an added bonus... it would KILL Mrs. Kim. She would read it (and hell, make it her new favorite book) for that reason alone!
Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?