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Retro Reading: Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin


I needed to cleanse my mental palette and wasn't sure what to read when the spine of this book seemed to be glaring at me. After shrugging my shoulders I figured why not?

Just to be clear, (as of this writing) I've never seen the movie version of this, but have had copies of it from time to time. Of course, I've always known how it ends but didn't know the full story.

As the book begins, Guy and Rosemary Woodhouse have just signed a lease for a terrific apartment and they receive a phone call from a Mrs. Cortez. They've been on a waiting list for an apartment at The Bramford and according to Murphy's Law, just when you least expect it, expect the possible.

They decide to check out the place and discover that the reason the apartment became available was the previous owner just passed away while in a coma. Rosemary sees the possibilities and Guy, noticing how happy she is, manages to use his actor skills and gets out of the lease that they've just signed.

Over dinner with their friend, Edward "Hutch" Hutchins, Hutch gives them a brief history of "The Bram" and the odd things that have happened there. Guy seems to brush it off while the history seems to send a chill up Rosemary's spine, but it doesn't seem to bother her too much.

After they move into the apartment, Rosemary meets Terry in the laundry room. Both women agree that the laundry room is the creepiest part of the building and after getting to know one another, they decide that they'll accompany one another on laundry days.

Terry tells Rosemary her about how messed up her life was before she was literally picked up on the street by a sweet couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet. She even shows Rosemary a good luck charm that Minnie gave her, but is put off by a strange odor coming from it.

Later that evening, the Woodhouse's are coming from dinner and see there's a commotion outside their building. They discover that Terry has jumped to her death.

The next morning, Minnie comes over and thanks Rosemary for her concern and she invites them over for dinner.

Meanwhile, Guy is up for a role and is always in competition with fellow actor Donald Baumgart.

Guy is fascinated with Roman and Rosemary is till trying to figure the old couple out when he receives a call from his agent. Baumgart has suddenly gone blind and can't do the play so he's offered the role. Later he'll start to receive more roles.

He's also told Rosemary that he thinks it's time to start having children since everything is starting to go his way and one night after dinner (both Rosemary and Guy had forgotten to get dessert) Minnie pops over with extra chocolate mousse and Rosemary starts to feel sick. Guy puts her to bed and she starts to have a wild dream.

Rosemary discovers that she's pregnant and Minnie gives her the charm, not letting her know that she saw Terry wearing it prior to her suicide.

She's also swayed to see a doctor recommended by the Castevets (who happen to be a friend of theirs) and Minnie joyfully helps in caring for Rosemary.

One day, Hutch happens to be in the neighborhood and stops over. She tells Hutch that she's pregnant and Roman happens to stop over. The two seem cordial to one another and later that night, Hutch calls to set up a meeting with Rosemary the next morning.

Hutch doesn't show up and Rosemary later learns that he's in a coma.

Rosemary begins to get restless and doesn't want anything to do with the Castevet's and tries to sever her ties with them, but it's impossible since she is still seeing Dr. Sapirstein on a weekly basis.

As her due date gets closer, she receives a call from one of Hutch's other friends, Grace Cardiff, and Grace gives her a large envelope.

Rosemary begins to piece everything together and thinks that she has a friend in Dr. Sapirstein but realizes the truth and she eventually gives birth at home.

Technically, the story should end with the birth, but there are a few more pages in which we get an idea of what will probably happen in the future and whether or not Rosemary will accept or reject the baby.

This is a very fast read, but of course if you're familiar with the story, you pretty much know about the ending.

The journey to the ending is a somewhat wild ride and while not as suspenseful as I thought, the pace begins to pick up as Rosemary gets closer to her due date. There are some aha! moments and once inside the Bramford, you really can't escape.

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