Delicate Condition
September 10, 2023 8:09 AM - Subscribe

Successful, wealthy, happily-married actress Anna Alcott is missing only one thing in life: the baby she desperately wants. But it seems others want her baby, too -- a shadowy web of conspirators and stalkers who may represent a cult, or who may only be shadows in the mind of a person who is going mad. This novel (by Danielle Valentine) is the basis of the upcoming season of American Horror Story.
posted by kittens for breakfast (2 comments total)
The cover blurb compares this novel to Rosemary's Baby, and wow, yeah: it sure is a lot like Rosemary's Baby.

My guess is that most people who read this will come to it because of American Horror Story. And if you like AHS, you're probably pretty comfortable with some grisly, nasty horror. You probably expect it! And it is not what you will get here. This is a restrained, gore-free book, no sex, barely a "fuck" to be heard (though there was more discussion of the glamorous Anna shitting than I would have expected). If that sounds like a criticism, it isn't, exactly; I think the book is as graphic as it needs to be, which is to say, not very. Because it's not an especially gruesome book, subtle creepy effects are heightened -- I found myself disturbed by mere suggestions that supernatural forces were at work, which is necessary. Delicate Condition is less a book about what is happening than it is what might be happening. Is Anna (like Rosemary) being gaslit by a cult? Is Anna effectively gaslighting herself?

Valentine is not a brilliant prose stylist (there is a ton of tense shifts in this book, which isn't really her fault -- she thanks her editors and beta readers, for God's sake!), but she's a fine storyteller, and I burned through this pretty fast. I was a little disappointed by the ending, which I felt both tied things up a little too neatly and also -- more importantly -- glossed over a lot of the discussion of privilege that, to me, underpinned most of the novel. Like: do you actually like Anna? I'm not sure I do -- she's spoiled, and has a tendency to fire people in her employ on a whim, with nary a look back. Anna sort of seems to grasp the things about Anna that suck ass, but the book really seems to grasp them, until it...doesn't. I presume people reading this have not all read the book, so I don't want to spoil anything. But I think the book raises points it does not address.

What kind of season of American Horror Story will this be? A short one, unless they embroider it a lot; this could be a solid 90-minute movie. I feel like the last thing any season of AHS needs is a license to generate filler, but here we are, I guess. I suspect the phrase "loosely adapted" will apply.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:48 AM on September 10

I'm surprised no one has posted about the AHS adaptation. I'm watching it and am kinda obsessed. I had 2 miscarriages and a stillbirth. My other 2 babies are alive and well. I guess I should read the book?
posted by Heaventhenthesea at 8:59 PM on October 12

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