The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion, HarperCollins, 2013, 288 pages
If I were to judge a book by it’s cover (which I always do; let’s be honest), I’d say that this one would be a quirky piece of chick lit with some sassy smarts on the side. Which is pretty much exactly what it is.
The Rosie Project by Australian author Graeme Simsion is a funny romance novel with a few twists. Don Tillman, Asperger’s-affected genetics professor, assumes that his lack of social skills make him universally unsuitable for love; yet, a friend’s comment that he would make a great husband prompts him to embark on a search for a partner – a statistical, research-based search, that is. He approaches his quest with the same logical, academic rigour that he brings to every pursuit, creating a lengthy questionnaire for potential candidates of The Wife Project to complete. Along the way he meets Rosie Jarman who, by the questionnaire’s standards, is “completely unsuitable,” but also happens to be bold, beautiful, intelligent and a lot of fun. Don uses his genetics smarts to help Rosie track down her biological father, while Rosie chips away at his compulsive need for strict schedules and a practical (but unfashionable) wardrobe.
Don and Rosie are both lovable characters, though I found Don to be a bit of an Asperger’s cliche. Granted, there are not many primary characters in literature on that spectrum, let alone romantic leads, so it is refreshing to see in any capacity. I also appreciated the novel angle Simsion utilized in writing it from a male’s perspective. Ultimately, the book is charming and unconventional, if not a bit simplistic. The ease with which Don overcomes his social awkwardness and need for routine in order to adapt to life with a romantic partner may be unrealistic, but it does make for a neatly-tied-up happy ending.
If I’m honest, I think The Rosie Project might have worked better onscreen (and word has it that it may find a home there in the future); it’s the kind of rom com I would actually enjoy. But when it comes to books I’m not an avid consumer of that sort. I find them light and fluffy, sweet at the moment but ultimately forgettable. The Rosie Project is definitely better than most, but I can’t say it changed my life. However, if you often reach for romances, this one is more than worth your while.