Book Reviews

Book Review: Son of Rosemary By Ira Levin

Book Review: Son of Rosemary By Ira LevinIf you’ve read Rosemary’s Baby and wondered what happened next, all the answers can be found in Son of Rosemary. Yes, that’s right, there is a sequel, but it was a long time coming—about thirty years in real-time and thirty-three in the story.

If you have made the effort to seek out this review the chances are that you have already read Rosemary’s Baby, if you have not I would strongly recommend you read it first rather than try and read Son of Rosemary as a stand-alone novel. The story is easier to understand when you are familiar with the details surrounding the conception and birth of Rosemary’s baby.

A lot has happened since Rosemary gave birth to her son, the only problem is she has missed most of it because the coven caused her to fall into a coma twenty-seven years ago when her son Andy was just six. Most of the coven members have already died and, a couple of paragraphs into the book, the last remaining member, Dr Shand, gets mowed down by a taxi. That’s not good for him, but it’s very good for Rosemary because as soon as this happens the spell is lifted and she awakes in her nursing home bed.

When Rosemary wakes up she has no idea how long she’s been unconscious and she is shocked when she looks in a mirror and discovers she now resembles her Aunt Peg. However, the main thing on her mind is her son.

Andy is not hard to find. Nearly everyone is wearing ‘I Love Andy’ buttons. Of course, Rosemary doesn’t realize that the Andy in question is her son, but when she sees him on the TV, there is no doubt in her mind. His horns have gone and his tiger-like eyes are now blue, but it is Andy all right. With his long, blond hair and the beard and moustache, Andy looks more like Jesus Christ than the Son of Satan and Rosemary soon finds out that her son has had a huge positive impact on the world and now heads an organization called God’s Children.

Rosemary also discovers that she is famous in her own right. Not many people return to the land of the living after being in a coma for twenty-seven years. Rosemary is front-page news and when she is invited to a talk show she has a big announcement to make: Andy is her son. Most people are probably more than a little sceptical about Rosemary’s statement, but the people at God’s children are watching and they get in touch with the show’s host immediately. Andy is also watching and he has a question for Rosemary. When Rosemary answers Andy’s question correctly there can be no doubt about her claim and mother and son are reunited.

Son of Rosemary is 255 pages long and the story starts off very well. While I was reading it, like Rosemary, I began to have my doubts about where Andy’s true allegiance lay. The Devil has always had big plans for his son and although Andy assures Rosemary that he is going against his father’s plans, I was never quite convinced about it and it wasn’t until I was reaching the end of the book that I found out for sure if he was planning on being a saint or a sinner.

Up until this point, I’d been enjoying reading Son of Rosemary and had found out the truth about Andy, so that little mystery was solved. Then, in the final few pages, Levin totally destroyed everything that had happened in the rest of the book and I felt incredibly let down by the ending. I am not going to say what happens because I don’t believe in adding spoilers to my reviews. Suffice it to say I was not a happy chappy. I felt like I’d wasted my time by reading the book. To be honest, the ending of Son of Rosemary makes a mockery of the first book. It spoils everything and, to my mind, it would have been better if Levin had never written a sequel at all than to end it all like this.

But . . .

I’m only human so I sometimes miss things or don’t understand things correctly. I wondered if that could be the case with Son of Rosemary, so I did an internet search and read a few reviews of the book, especially those on Amazon. A lot of people seem to feel the same way as I do about the book, but there are those who have different ways of interpreting the events at the end of the story and, to be honest, some of these interpretations do make sense. But, do you know what? The ending still sucks. It’s weak, it’s a cop-out, and I just don’t like it. Everything had been building up to a big finish. The story should have ended with a bang. Instead, it was just a whimper and I was the one doing the whimpering. I was expecting resolution, but only found confusion. There’s an anagram that turns up early on in the book and its meaning seems to be integral to the plot. No answers to this are ever provided. When I read a novel I don’t want to have to think too hard about things. Reading offers escapism. In a mystery novel, for instance, I will try and figure out the mystery, but I know that if the answer eludes me it will be provided at the end of the book anyway. Son of Rosemary does not do this because Rosemary cannot solve the anagram. Maybe you can. It’s Roast Mules.