Friday, April 26, 2013

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (2013)

The Rosie Project is Graeme Simsion’s debut novel. The protagonist is Don Tillman, a Sheldon Cooper-esque geneticist who lives a highly organised and ordered existence. With every minute of every day mapped out, despite having few friends Don is not lonely. However, after one of his four friends Daphne tells him he would make some woman an excellent partner, Don decides it’s time to find a wife, so starts the Wife Project, writing an extensive (ridiculous and funny) questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman. Along the way he meets Rosie, a bartender who is trying to find her biological father. Agreeing to help Rosie with the Father Project, Don’s safe existence is challenged in ways that are funny, sweet and completely endearing.

Reading this book reminded me a lot of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night in that you experience the subjectivity of a person who, for whatever reason, is unable to process social cues and relationships in a normal way. However, The Rosie Project lacks the sadness of the Haddon novel. While there is poignancy in Don’s interactions with other people (in particular with his boss the Dean), Don is so likeable and loveable that all of his quirks add to his charm. The prickly yet gorgeous Rosie turns Don’s life upside-down, broadening the narrow parameters of his existence and encouraging to behave in ways he never has before. Observing the process of Don learning about happiness and contentment is a lovely process and is a huge part of the appeal of this book. In the interest of providing a fair and balanced review, I think I should say that the ending is a bit pat and unbelievable. However, this flaw did not decrease the pleasure I experienced while reading this book at all, so it’s a forgivable error.

In case it’s not clear from this glowing review, I really enjoyed this book. I feel almost evangelical about it – I want everyone to buy it (so that Graeme Simsion earns lots of money so he can write more books) and read it so they can enjoy it also. Stop reading this review and go and read the book!

I have reviewed this book as part of Australian Literature Month 2013.

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