The Rosie Project – by Graeme Simsion
This came to me highly recommended by a friend in the publishing industry – it’s being tipped as a big hit, touted as “Intelligent and romantic, endearing and funny. A love story like no other.” The trick with love stories is, of course, making one stand out from the crowd, reading something you’ve not read many variations of before. The Rosie Project promised that: but could it deliver?
Don Tillman accepted long ago that he’s different. He has a detailed schedule that allows him to make the most not only of his time at work as a professor of genetics, but also his home life. Don has lobster for dinner each Tuesday and has never used his balcony. He is frequently frustrated by his friends making demands on his time with little notice, disrupting his schedule, and has never been on a second date.
Looking at his options, Don decides that the best way to find himself a partner is to design and administer a questionnaire to any potential dates, that will disqualify unsuitable women. For example: smokers, drinkers and anyone prone to arriving late are immediately out of the running. Gene and his wife Claudia, Don’s only two friends, are wary of Don’s plan but willing to help. Gene sends Rosie to see Don, and after a disastrous date (really, what was Gene thinking?) Don dismisses Rosie from his mind. Or tries to, at least.
It’s extremely annoying, because Rosie meets none of the criteria needed to be his partner, but Don wants to see her again. And again. The logical solution to this presents itself when Don remembers Rosie mentioning that she doesn’t know who her biological father is, and that she would like to find out. DNA testing is straightforward enough – so the Father Project is born. Don will help Rosie discover her parentage, thus spending more time with Rosie, and then they will part ways.
This was, indeed, an endearing book. Don is a believably socially awkward, well-meaning, entirely rational man. He may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome – it’s heavily implied but not made explicit. And that’s not the point. Don says that he is wired differently, and feels things differently. He established long ago that people would find that odd and could even find it funny, so he learned to exaggerate these differences. I really enjoyed this character, and Don’s approach towards life.
Rosie is, in a lot of ways, a typical twenty-something girl, and that was what made her so special. She’s intelligent, passionate, sometimes irrational, driven, and a little bit damaged by her past hurts. She’s suspicious of Don but willing to take a chance too, and that resilience is what I found most appealing.
I loved Don and Rosie’s story, and think it lived up to the hype of being a different tale than I’ve read before. Handily avoiding clichés, sensitively and intelligently written, The Rosie Project was a cut above every romance-tinged book I’ve read!
Are you interested in meeting Don and Rosie? Do you have any favourite, not-your-standard-romance books?