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Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary's Baby (original 1967; edition 2010)

by Ira Levin, Otto Penzler (Introduction)

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2,640702,264 (3.79)175
Title:Rosemary's Baby
Authors:Ira Levin
Other authors:Otto Penzler (Introduction)
Info:Pegasus (2010), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Paranormal Library
Tags:library book, satanism, horror, book to movie

Work details

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (1967)

Recently added bylostkiwi, Karibeth2me, cwriley, Nooiniin, private library, sandrikoti, Mickeycaela
  1. 31
    The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: The stories are quite different, but the books share similar themes. Both books are '70's religious shockers about a young woman moving into a new apartment, set in New York.
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    The Case Against Satan by Ray Russell (SomeGuyInVirginia)
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    The Nanny by Evelyn Piper (SomeGuyInVirginia)

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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I found Rosemary surprisingly likable. She seemed sensible enough, although she bowed down to her husband’s wishes far too often. (I guess that’s the ’60s for you.) But at least Rosemary began to question things and put two and two together, unlike many characters in horror movies and books. Somehow I just can’t enjoy it as much if the main character doesn’t put up some sort of semi-intelligent fight. I was really rooting for Rosemary. Her behavior at the end of the story nearly killed me (but I loved it—what a great ending).

In the afterword of the book, Ira Levin notes that the suspense of a coming event can often be the scariest part of a story. Rosemary’s Baby is nearly all suspense—throughout the novel, I slowly pieced together clues about the Castevets’ evil religious practices, their motives and strange behaviors, and as Rosemary’s demonic fetus grew within her, so did my sense of dread. What was going to happen? Was it going to kill her? Burst out of her? Possess her? I had no idea. I loved the suspense—it’s what made it so frightening. The impending doom. Knowing that something evil was coming, was growing inside the protagonist.

Most of the real horror in this book happened offstage, so to speak, which added to the sense of doom. Until the very end, there were only hints here and there—the smell of tannis root, the black candles, the sounds of a recorder and chanting through the wall. The strange “nutritional smoothies” Minnie made for Rosemary. The sudden, suspicious illnesses of various people. The closest we get to any real “action” is when Rosemary is raped and impregnated—she has been drugged, so we see it through her dreamlike semi-aware state. I thoroughly enjoyed putting all the clues together while reading.

I recommend this book if you want to read a creepy, ominous story, but not a terrifying one. It’s pretty great. Now I have to go watch the movie. ( )
  blackrabbit89 | May 6, 2016 |
This was quite creepy, but not as much as I would have thought based on how much a small part of the movie scared me when I saw a small bit of it on tv way back in the dark ages of my childhood. ( )
  Electablue | Apr 20, 2016 |
Not sure if I still have a copy. ( )
  Marlene-NL | Mar 12, 2016 |
The story focuses on Rosemary Woodhouse, a bright but somewhat naïve young housewife, and her struggling actor husband Guy, as they move into the Bramford, a New York City apartment building with a history of unsavory tenants and mysterious events. Their neighbors are an elderly and slightly absurd couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet, who tend to be meddlesome but seem harmless. Guy becomes unusually close to the pair while Rosemary tries to maintain a distance from them. Guy lands a role in a play when the actor originally cast suddenly and inexplicably goes blind. Soon afterwards he suggests that he and Rosemary have the child they had planned. On the night they plan to try to conceive, Minnie brings them individual ramekins of chocolate mousse, but Rosemary finds hers has a chalky undertaste and surreptitiously throws it away after a few tastes. Shortly afterwards she has a dizzy spell and passes out. She experiences what she perceived to be a strange dream in which she is raped by a demonic presence.

A few weeks later, Rosemary learns she is pregnant. She plans to be treated by Dr. Hill, recommended by her friend Elise, but the Castevets insist she see their good friend, famed obstetrician Dr. Sapirstein. For the first three months of her pregnancy, Rosemary suffers severe abdominal pains, loses weight, and craves raw meat and chicken liver. The doctor insists the pain will subside soon and assures her she has nothing to worry about.

When her old friend Hutch sees Rosemary's wan appearance, he is disturbed enough to do some research, and he plans to share his findings with her but falls into a coma before they can meet. He subsequently dies but before he does instructs his friend Grace Cardiff to deliver the book about witchcraft on his desk to Rosemary. Photographs, passages in the text he marked, and the cryptic message "the name is an anagram" lead the young mother-to-be to realize Roman Castevet is really Steven Marcato, the son of a former resident of the Bramford who was accused of worshiping Satan. She suspects her neighbors are part of a cult with sinister designs for her baby, and Guy is cooperating with them in exchange for their help in advancing his career. She then learns that Dr. Sapirstein is part of the conspiracy when the front desk clerk at his office alludes to a smell that Rosemary has when she wears the necklace Minnie gave her as a gift and the doctor often smells just like that.

An increasingly disturbed Rosemary shares her fears and suspicions with Dr. Hill, who, assuming she is suffering from a hormonal imbalance, calls Dr. Sapirstein and Guy. The two men bring her home, where she goes into labor. When she awakens following the delivery of her baby she is told he died shortly after birth. However, when she hears an infant's cries somewhere in the building, she suspects he still is alive. In the hall closet, she discovers a secret door leading into the Castevet apartment, where the coven meets, and finds the congregation gathered, worshiping her newborn son, the spawn of Satan. Rosemary considers killing the demon infant but, after some coaxing from Roman, she begins to hum a lullaby to the boy.

1 vote bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
First words:
~Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse had signed a lease on a five-room apartment in a geometric white house on First Avenue when they received word, from a woman named Mrs. Cortez, that a four-room apartment in the Bramford had become available~

I read [A Kiss Before Dying] when I was a teenager and remember loving it. The premise of the book was “a little out there” but believable; fiction … but “it could happen.”

Then I read [The Boys from Brazil] and thought ... believable; fiction but “it could happen.”

In January, I read [Sliver]. The premise was “a little more out there” but believable; fiction … but “it could happen.”

Earlier this month I finished [The Stepford Wives]. The premise was “a little MORE out there” but believable; fiction … but “it could happen.”

And now, [Rosemary’s Baby]. Ok, the premise, “WAY out there”, a little less believable, that couldn’t happen … BUT … niggling away … oh, yes, “it could happen”!!

The most frightening aspect of this book is that the ‘evil’ is so sweet. We and Rosemary do not have any idea that our neighbours could be capable of anything such as Satanism / devil worship or be part of summoning the devil and the anti-Christ. These are dear, kind, loving, elderly folks. The type of people we rely on when we are in trouble. We would never suspect.

What really disturbs me though, is the way that Rosemary responds to her child when she finally sees him and knows who his father is (and the father is NOT her husband).

Again, I was frightened by the whole story. Talk about creating suspense page after page. I was compelled to finish this book quickly. Even though I had seen the movie, knew the story, Levin was still able to have me ‘guessing’ how it would all come out in the end. That is a true gift.

As an Amazon.com descriptions states, “A wonderfully chilling novel”.

An aside: Levin must have experienced chronic pain himself, or known someone who did. As someone who experiences severe pain on a daily basis (for the last 11+ years on Long Term Disability), this was a wonderful description of what life can be like living with pain.

“The pain grew worse, grew so grinding that something shut down in Rosemary – some center of resistance and remembered well-being - and she stopped reacting, stopped mentioning pain to Dr, Sapirstein, stopped referring to pain even in her thoughts. Until now it had been inside her; now she was inside it; pain was the weather around her, was time, was the entire world.”

I have been there and suffered that. Pain used to be all that I was. I am grateful that pain is, at this time in my life, only a part of me.

4.5 stars ( )
1 vote ccookie | Feb 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
Met de regelmaat van de klok verschijnen de herdrukken van dit boek, dat ook verfilmd is (en nog steeds vertoond wordt). Een jong echtpaar krijgt een flat toegewezen in een oud romantisch flatgebouw in New York, waarover verhalen gaan als zouden er veel zelfmoorden plaatsvinden en heksen en gifmengers wonen. Ze trekken zich hier niets van aan en voelen er zich gelukkig tot de vrouw, Rosemary, plotseling in verwachting raakt. Deze zwangerschap verloopt moeizaam en ze gaat aan de hand van allerlei gebeurtenissen eraan twijfelen of de buren (en ook haar man) die haar met allerlei zorgjes omringen toch niet aan hekserij doen. Het verhaal eindigt dan ook als ze een baby heeft gekregen die als tegenhanger van Christus, de zoon van Satan zou zijn. Nog steeds een boeiend verhaal, maar minder griezelig dan de film. Duidelijke druk op grauw papier.
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Completed in August 1966, in Wilton, Connecticut, and dedicated to Gabrielle
First words
Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse had signed a lease on a five-room apartment in a geometric white house on First Avenue when they received word, from a woman named Mrs. Cortez, that a four-room apartment in the Bramford had become available.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them; despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare; as the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to suspect that the Castavets' circle is not what it seems.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451194004, Mass Market Paperback)

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. --Stanley Wiater

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:52 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Witchcraft and terror await Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse when they move into the ominous Bramford apartment building.

(summary from another edition)

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