I’ve had this book on my Kobo for ages, ever since it caught my attention on Goodreads at the end of last year. It certainly sounded like something I would want to read, but then I downloaded it and didn’t get around to reading it. I’m glad I finally did, because although it was a lot different to what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
It tells the story of Don Tillman, an associate professor who can’t find a woman. At least, he can’t find a woman that will go on a second date with him. He devises The Wife Project, a questionnaire that will allow him to find out all he needs to know about a woman before he even bothers to embark on a first date with them. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned; he soon meets Rosie, who wants his help in working out who her real father is. As a genetics expert, he is perfectly placed to provide her with the answers she needs, but she’s not a serious contender for The Wife Project. She smokes, is a vegetarian, is not punctual, and she’s a barmaid. Rosie and Don become the most unlikely of friends, and while at first it might be just because he is helping her to find out who her real father is, their friendship develops and it is clear that they have feelings for each other.
The Rosie Project is written as a first-person narrative, so we, as the reader, are privy to all that Don thinks and feels. This means that we quickly understand something about him that he hasn’t recognised himself; he appears to have Asperger’s Syndrome, or is, most certainly on the autistic spectrum. It’s easy for me to throw these terms around because they have entered the vernacular, but I certainly don’t profess to have anything other than the most basic knowledge of them. Simsion, however, makes it clear without ever making it explicit; even someone with no thorough understanding will be encouraged to recognise this in Don, and yet by not making his central character someone with a firm diagnosis, the reader is encouraged to laugh at some of his foot-in-mouth moments.
This book is essentially a romantic comedy, though packaged slightly differently. It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read it that the film rights have already been optioned. What was a surprise to me was learning that there was a second book on the way. When I finished The Rosie Project, although I enjoyed it, I had no real desire to revisit the characters, and considered the ending a thoroughly satisfying one. But it’s clear where the next book will go, and I expect I will end up reading it!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
First published: April 2013