The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion.
I received this ARC through a Goodreads give away, so I have to thank both them and Penguin first for letting me read something so brilliant.
It’s got an intriguing cover, I like it. It’s simple and the fact that it isn’t cluttered is so in keeping with the story that it makes me love it all the more. So, what’s this all about:
“I am thirty-nine years old; single, intelligent, fit, in excellent health and I have a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor. Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing.
However, there is something about me that women find unappealing. I have never found it easy to make friends, and it seems that the deficiencies that caused this problem have also affected my attempts at romantic relationships. The Apricot Ice-cream Disaster is a good example.”
These are the words of Don Tillman, 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 neighbour 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?
Graeme Simsion’s moving and comic novel, sustained by a remarkable narrative voice, takes the reader on an immensely satisfying journey as Don seeks to see more within himself than he ever thought was possible.
When I read the blurb, it instantly reminded me of An Abundance of Katherines, which I own but have yet to read – so I guess we’ll find out how similar they are in due course. This was reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and I hope it gets the same level of publicity because this was a very unconventional and endearing love story.
I’ve been stung a couple of times by books that claim to be really funny and then turn out not to be, believe me when I say that this is actually genuinely funny. Not in a laugh out loud kind of way, but certainly in a sweet smile inducing kind of way. It’s quite bitter sweet in a way, a lot of the humour comes from the touching moments, the sadness that people don’t react to Don with kindness, thinking him weird in his misunderstanding of social conventions. Don was a great character, he was like the Cumberbatch portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, he’s incredibly intelligent, methodical, logical but with no real idea of social norms. It’s both funny and endearing seeing him getting to grips with the various situations he gets himself in after meeting Rosie.
Initially I was having a few problems with the misogynistic nature of the Wife Project that Don uses to find a potential partner. Having someone hand out a questionnaire to narrow down perspective partners that specifies how that partner should behave and think about things is kind of hard for me to deal with. But after I came to realise that it wasn’t supposed to come across that way, Don doesn’t view emotions the same way as “conventional people”.
All in all this was a beautifully funny and endearing love story and I enjoyed every second of it, it would make an amazing movie actually. So, someone should get on that. It’s so good it gets a seal of approval.