The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion, Australia, 2013

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion, Australia, 2013

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, makes the observation that “… ‘somewhere in a medical archive is a twenty-year-old file with my name and the words ‘depression, bipolar disorder? OCD?’ and ‘schizophrenia?’”. He feels that the question marks are important, seeing as no definite diagnosis was ever made. Nevertheless, he is obviously on the autism spectrum, having difficulties both empathizing with others and functioning as a normal member of society.

Aged thirty-nine, Don decides that he needs to get married and designs a sixteen-page questionnaire that he then hands out to a large number of unattached females. He is helped in this venture by Gene, a professor of psychology whose ambition is to sleep with a woman from every country in the world and who also happens to be one of Don’s only two friends – the other being Gene’s wife, Claudia.

Of course no one measures up to Don’s perfect-wife image, and the Wife Project looks as though it is doomed to failure until Rosie, an unconventional, beautiful PhD student enters the scene. Right from the outset it is obvious to Don that Rosie – a partial vegetarian who drinks alcohol and smokes – is most definitely not wife material. Or is she?

Rosie, whose mother died in a car accident when Rosie was a child, desperately wants to find her real father as she is convinced that her ‘father’ Phil is actually her step-father. Don, the geneticist, offers to help her, and the Father Project is born.

Sufficiently entertaining, The Rosie Project catches the reader’s attention from the very first page. The intelligent, but completely socially inept, Don Tillman is cleverly presented (if, at times, in a somewhat clichéd manner), and although it is not at all difficult to understand why he is still unattached he does have a certain quirky attraction that may make him interesting to some readers. Unfortunately, although I actually enjoyed the book, I did not particularly warm to the main character, and I found myself wondering how anyone could agree to a permanent relationship with a man who could honestly admit that he had no understanding of the concept ‘to love’.

This is a charming, easy read where reality and all it implies can be put to one side, and where the reader can be confident that all loose ends will be tied up (carefully or otherwise) by the end of the book. If you are looking for realism I would not recommend that you read The Rosie Project; however, if you are occasionally in need of a few hours’ light, uncomplicated reading then I would not hesitate to suggest that you add it to your reading list.

Photo of Graeme Simsion is from NPR

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