Rosemary’s Baby – 4/5 Stars
I really liked this book, which the movie is an incredibly faithful adaptation. I won’t get into the movie much, but apparently Polanski had never adapted a novel before and basically took no liberties in the screenplay, so this book is really well represented on screen.
We begin with Rosemary, married to an actor ten years her senior, finding out that despite having just signed a new lease, she’s being offered an apartment in a building she’s always had her eye on. She pleads with her husband to go see it, even if its a waste of time. So they go, they find a hidden closet, and fall in love with the space. He lies to get out of their lease and they move in. Little weird things start to happen and she slowly becomes friends with the different personalities in the apartment. One night, while drunk, she’s raped by her husband (and I have to tell you that while the book does talk about it as unconsented, her husband does gaslight her about it so be forewarned) and she’s conflicted about how she feels about it, and even felt very strange and otherworldly as it happened. You know what happened. She’s get pregnant, and it goes from there.
I recently watched Stepford Wives, and like that movie (and I think book) I think this book works a lot like a twisty, horror version of “The Yellow Wall Paper” and so the commentary is about the way women are treated, not a celebration of it. I can’t say it holds up to any and all criticism, but I think it’s trying to say something.
Son of Rosemary – 1/5 Stars
And apparently we got a sequel! So after the events of Rosemary’s Baby, which ends on those hazy moments at the end with apartment dwellers circling Rosemary in cultish ritual and handing over the baby. But in the sequel we start with Rosemary coming to from a long coma to the late 1990s and her son, Andy (Andy Christ?!?) is a charismatic figure full of charm and easy solutions for a weary world. So reunites with him, knows his secret, and looks to keep her relationship with her son fresh in her life as she figures out her next steps.
And as you can imagine, this book is entirely unnecessary. There’s clearly an interest in writing a book based on the rise of Christian fundamentalists in the 80s and 90s, especially as we approached the end of the 20th century at the end of the 1990s. It’s a book that is shunted onto the corpse of the previous novel not because it’s the obvious sequel to what works on the first book, but a revisiting a story that already effectively closed itself out. So this book ends up being not particularly good, overly winking at times, and never really spending any time justifying its own existence. It’s a pretty frustrating book not only to read, but to live with its existence in the world.