The Smell of Tannis Root

rosemary__s_baby_poster_by_cipgraph-d3a4tedI didn’t know that Rosemary’s baby was based on a book by the same name (a 1967 best seller by Ira Levin). Growing up the only references ever made to the story were of Mia Farrow playing the main character in Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the text.

I was surprised then, when the book came up as a recommendation from, whence I’ve been getting audio books for some years now. Last year I was on a roll listening to books than inspired ‘horror’  and sci-fi films, and I immediately knew I should give it a go. The copy I have is read by Ms. Farrow, who does a terrific job of bringing the naive, but intelligent Rosemary to life.

Apparently, Polanski didn’t change much at all from the novel – to his credit, as it is written beautifully. I wish that I could have read this without knowing what was going to happen. The way it reads, it would be possible to take it as a psychological thriller suspecting Rosemary’s ideas to have come completely out of Pre / Postpartum delusions. It’s the curse of knowledge that we can’t consciously ‘unknow’ something to relive the joy of finding it out.

Come with us quietly, Rosemary. Don’t argue or make a scene. Because if you say anything more about witches or witchcraft, we’re gonna be forced to take you to a mental hospital. You don’t want that, do you?

Feed the Goat‘It doesn’t matter’, she reads, ‘whether witchcraft is real or not, but only that those who practice it do.’ Levin brings us back from the brink of accepting that witches and devils exist. It’s not the devil Rosemary fears, but what the witches will do that scares her most. We are pulled in so close to Rosemary’s situation that we share her feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. She has nothing of her own that is not also her husband’s – and no one can be trusted – not even him. She tries to escape them all, but goes into labor while trying to run to away.

Rosemary’s baby is good horror because it’s actually good fiction. Written well, and identifiable.

By the way, I was sure (remember I listened to this book) that it must be T-A-N-A-S root that was the anagram Hutch was suggesting to Rosemary. Good thing I wasn’t the one who had to figure this out.



2 comments on “The Smell of Tannis Root

  1. […] forget to check out my comments on the novel ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ on my other blog. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers / light horror (a la Stephen […]

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