Thursday, 14 February 2013

Book review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

My edition: Paperback, to be published on 11 April 2013 by Penguin UK, 329 pages.

Description: Don Tillman is an odd, charming, highly successful Professor of Genetics, whose long history of 'not fitting in' has convinced him that he is not wired for romance. But at weekly dinners with his elderly neighbor and valued new friend, Daphne (Don can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand), she convinces him to re-evaluate his prospects.

And so, in the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he embarks upon The Wife Project, designing a questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner: a punctual, non-drinking, non-smoking female who will fit in with his regimented lifestyle.

When Rosie appears on the scene, it is clear that she fits none of his selection criteria: a spontaneous, outspoken barmaid who smokes and curses, and simply adjusts the time on Don's clock when he complains that they have fallen off his carefully planned schedule. Yet an unlikely partnership blooms when Don agrees to help Rosie search for her biological father.

As Rosie pushes Don out of his comfort zone again and again, he finds to his surprise that he may be having fun. But can a real relationship take root if Don isn't wired to feel emotion like everyone else?

Rating:

 

Don Tillman is an intelligent and well-paid university Professor and not at all unpleasing on the eyes. Yet despite ticking many of the required "husband material" boxes, his social awkwardness renders him incapable of finding a partner - or even progress beyond a first date. This is where the Wife Project comes in, a sixteen page long questionnaire Don has compiled for women who are interested in dating him.

When Rosie appears at the door of his office he assumes that Gene, one of his two friends, has sent her because she has agreed to be part of the Wife Project. He asks her out on a date and when they cannot get into the restaurant because of The Jacket Incident she invites herself over to his house. Despite Don having to alter his standardised meal system to include a second person in the calculations he surprises himself by having a nice time with Rosie, though he quickly dismisses her as a potential partner because as a smoker, drinker and late-comer she fails many of the important aspects of the Wife Project.

It takes a little while to get used to reading the novel from Don's perspective because, as he explains, his brain is wired differently and his observations and remarks are quite emotionally detached. However, Don's social awkwardness makes for some hilarious and unique events. Add to that the ongoing intrigue in both the Wife Project and the Father Project, the latter of which he starts up for Rosie, and you've got a wonderfully entertaining and compelling read.


Many thanks to Lovereading for a review copy of the novel!

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