I’d bought Rosemary’s Baby years ago at a run-down second hand bookstore. It’s the sixth printing of the 1968 Dell paperback, priced at ninety-five cents. Ninety five freaking cents. Anyway… I read it back when I bought it and enjoyed it then. It’s been a lot of years, so it was nice to revisit the story. I knew the ending, so I was able to concentrate more on the details that a first pass doesn’t readily leave in the reader’s mind.
One of the most interesting things about the way Levin lays the story out is the way that everything seems innocent, but nothing truly is. With the foreshadowing done by Hutch, the reader looks at everything as sinister. But there’s so much and the conspiracy is so big that we can’t fathom that it’s really everything that’s sinister. Surely, the doctor recommendation isn’t. Surely Guy can’t actually be a part of what’s going on… surely…
I found Rosemary to be annoying in some cases, but true to her background. She lived a sheltered childhood, came to the big city and lived with other women (girls, really) and then seemed to go from there to Guy. Though she’s spunky, she’s clearly never been very independent-minded. At least, not in the long-term. She is at once gullible and suspicious. Once someone has her trust, she is loathe to see them in a different light. But for those she doesn’t fully trust, she waffles. And, again, I think this holds true to her character. I was very pleased with the well-roundedness.
One of the very interesting things about this novel is how centered it is in time. It references major events that really happened (Pope Paul’s visit to NYC, the newspaper strike, etc) and items that were popular in that time (Life and Look magazines, etc). So from a cultural or anthropological point of view, this book is like a little snapshot of life in New York City in 1965. Levin did a very good job with setting here. Modern city life is well-represented.
The ending strikes me as one of those post-modern, anti-happily-ever-after endings. It really underscores the concept that real life can’t be tied up in a pretty bow right before “The End.” It’s a rebellion against the tv trope of everything being hunky dory at the end of the hour. Real life is messy and sometimes you choose the least bad choice out of a slew of horrible choices. Sometimes it’s because you don’t have a choice and sometimes it’s because you don’t want to choose the really bad thing even if it might mean something good later. It’s the human condition.
If you haven’t read Rosemary’s Baby, you should. Go out and find you a ninety five cent second hand copy!
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