All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

on March 13, 2013

Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion
Text Publishing
2013, 324p
Read from my TBR pile

Don Tillman is an Associate Professor of genetics at the University of Melbourne. He’s highly intelligent but as Don will readily admit, he’s wired differently to most other human beings. Don’s life is optimised to the minute for maximum effiency – he has designed a schedule for every day of the week and this he sticks to rigidly, with barely a deviation. Such delays would throw the whole system out and Don does better when everything runs smoothly, the way it is supposed to.

At 39, Don has decided that the time has come for him to attempt to find a wife. But the world of dating is an anathema to him – his grasp of social etiquette is tenuous and he finds people are often offended by his forthright speech and odd mannerisms and strict adherence to schedules. So Don designs The Wife Project, a 16 page questionnaire for potential candidates to fill out. The answers will weed out unsuitable matches, saving the awkwardness of dates or potentially wasting time with a woman that is not right for him. The questions cover everything from education and intelligence to hobbies and punctuality.

What Don definitely does not expect is Rosie – a barmaid, a smoker, very unpunctual and a vegetarian who will occasionally eat “sustainable seafood”. This is definitely not Don’s perfect match, even if Rosie is very intelligent and also the most beautiful woman that Don has ever seen. She is also working on her own project and as a geneticist, it’s one that Don can assist her on. The more time Don and Rosie spend together, the less time Don spends on The Wife Project. And the more it becomes obvious that you don’t find love in the answers of a 16 page questionnaire.

Oh, this book! It’s had a lovely little buzz for a while now and I’ve been really keen to read it. I finally picked it up and bumped it up to the top of my pile immediately. And I’m so glad that I did. It really is just as fabulous as I expected.

Don exhibits all the characteristics of having Asperger’s Syndrome. Although he never acknowledges it in the book, he does deliver a lecture on the topic and is gently asked “Doesn’t this remind you of someone?” after listing some of the traits. He speaks in a very formal structure and doesn’t use slang, local vernacular or swear. He also works out his entire life down to exactly how many minutes it will take to do any given task on any given day. He’s a charming narrator, he’s funny (very often unintentionally, but he does experiment with humour) and clearly very intelligent and methodical. As a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, reading about Don and his timetables and schedules was mind boggling. He has precisely two friends in the entire world and he relies on them quite heavily for help with social interaction and expectations. Don fails to interpret social cues, he doesn’t have the skill for small talk or chat and he takes pretty much everything literally. He’s very blunt and doesn’t have a filter to stop him from saying what pops into his head. In a class, he calls on someone with a question by saying “Yes the fat woman – sorry, overweight woman”. He measures people in height and BMI upon seeing them and uses characteristics such as their weight to distinguish them and fails to see how this could be possibly offensive.

Rosie is the antithesis of Don and the two of them together is a breath of fresh air. She’s savvy and edgy and she persuades Don to throw caution to the wind and abandon his rigid schedules and loosen up a little. In return, Don helps Rosie with something that has been eating her up inside for years, helping to give her the answers and closure that nothing else has been able to and perhaps also helping to prove that not all males in her life will let her down. Rosie and Don probably shouldn’t work but there’s something about them together that so clearly does work. Don doesn’t change exactly, when he’s around Rosie, but he definitely experiences things that he wouldn’t normally. And he finds himself enjoying those experiences enormously – in fact he recognises them as some of the best times in his life. Don agonises over Rosie, because she isn’t suitable for The Wife Project, failing to realise, in all his rigidity, that it is actually The Wife Project that is not suitable, rather than Rosie herself.

What I love about this novel, is the accepting of the different. Don knows that he is outside of what is perceived and accepted to be normal, by general society. He frankly admits he doesn’t make friends or relate to others well and he does not appear to be “wired to function that way” like others do. He accepts this about himself and he doesn’t seek to change himself in order to fit in to the social norm, only to evolve himself so that he may interact with people without negatively impacting upon them. He thinks that he lacks empathy but his ability to recognise this and realise when he has indeed, felt for people negates it. He thinks it is impossible for him to fall in love, because he doesn’t display or recognise emotions like other people do. But what this book is about is Don realising that he can indeed, fall in love. He just experiences it, processes it and expresses it differently, just in the same way that he does everything else differently.

This book really did have it all: humour, touches of sadness and a truly unique pairing. What I really love is that this book isn’t about Don changing to find love, it’s about love finding him the way that he is, even when it seems unlikely. That’s not to say that Don doesn’t evolve as a character – he does. But at the end, he is still very much Don and he is accepted and loved for who he is, wired differently and all.

It’s the sort of book I’ll be pushing on to everyone that I know.


Book #60 of 2013

Aussie Author ChallengeGraeme Simsion lives in Melbourne and so this book counts towards my participation in the Aussie Authors Challenge. It’s the third novel completed for the challenge and is also an author that is new to me.


11 responses to “The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

  1. Danielle says:

    Yay! I’m reading this now and LOVING it. Seriously. A favourite book of 2013.

  2. Louise says:

    Everyone I’ve seen who has read this book has loved it. It’s so hard not to pick it up….

  3. sally906 says:

    Sorry setting up new reader this maybe the second time I’ve posted.

    I am adding this to my TBR list 🙂

  4. Marg says:

    I can’t wait to read this one! It sounds like such a fun read!

  5. This sounds wonderful – going on my wish list now!

  6. Malvina says:

    I loved your review of this book. I’ve just read it too, and completely and utterly fell in love with it so much that I cancelled the book I was going to do for my book club this year (The Age Of Miracles – still a very fabulous book) and nominated this one instead. I think we’ll have fun with it! I loved the humour, the unique hero and the fabulously accepting and also slightly-outside-the-norm Rosie. A very warm and endearing read. I do hope they do the film eventually. I kept visualizing the guy playing Sherlock Holmes on ‘Elementary’ (Jonny Lee Miller) as Don.

  7. rst0811 says:

    read this book just recently on the recommendation of my wife.. all i can is she’s a good judge…

  8. […] minute I read Bree’s review for The Rosie Project on All The Books I Can Read (See review Here) back in March, I knew this was the perfect book for me! While I had to wait a few months for the […]

  9. […] It was a tough choice for Bree @ All The Books I Can Read too, but she landed on The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. “So many reasons I loved this one but Don Tillman is one of the best characters I’ve read maybe ever and I liked that this was such an unconventional romance novel (written by a man) and that Rosie and Don both accept each other as they are and that Don doesn’t have to change, even with all his peculiarities and quirks. Read Bree’s Review. […]

  10. […] Contemporary:  The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion. What is not to love about this book? It’s so funny but yet beautifully […]

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