Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rosie Project Review

The Rosie Project was one of amazon's best books of October. It sounded intriguing and as it was totally different in tone from Allegiant, I went for it. The novel is by Graeme Simsion, a brand new author from Australia, where the book is already very popular.

The Rosie Project follows Don Tillman, a socially challenged genetics professor who works at a university in Australia. Don readily admits that socializing isn't his thing. But yet, he decides that he is ready to get married. He wants a partner but is beyond obsessive about what that wife will be like. After a few dates, he decides to come up with a questionnaire for his future spouse, including their BMI, view on smoking and alcohol. He relies heavily on his friends, Gene and Claudia, a couple in an open marriage. Their relationship and Don's reaction to it causes a lot of unintentional humor. Gene is on a quest to sleep with one woman of every nationality. Because Don is so direct, he keeps telling Claudia what Gene is actually up to when he claims he is working or whatever.

Despite their own problems, Gene and Claudia help Don on his quest. Gene ends up sending a woman named Rosie to Don's office. Don assumes that she is a candidate for the wife project, which Gene was helping to sort. He also automatically dismisses her as being totally unsuitable for a variety of reasons (she is a "barmaid", as Don calls her, so she isn't intellectually equal to him, plus she smokes). However, when Rosie asks Don for help in identifying her birth father, he ends up spending more and more time with her. Soon, Rosie is shaking Don out his routines. Don had previous had a standardized meal plan where he made the same dinner on the same day every day of the week. Rosie quickly changes that as well as introduces Don to making cocktails, dancing and traveling outside of his comfort zone in more ways than one.

Don is quite the character. It seemed clear to me that he has Asperger Syndrome or some other form of high functioning autism. In fact, early on in the book, he takes on a lecture that Gene was supposed to give to children with Aspergers and their families and I kept waiting for him to realize, oh wait, I have all of these characteristics too. That does eventually come up in the book, but it takes a while. Rosie is a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype but she is still a lot of fun and it's enjoyable seeing Don's world turning upside down.

One of the best parts of the book is that the author has links (at least in the kindle version) to all of the recipes that Don makes in the book. I'm dying to make his lobster and avocado salad! Anyway, this is a sweet, quirky romantic comedy. Apparently Simsion is writing a sequel. I'll probably read it although I felt like The Rosie Project wrapped up really nicely and doesn't really need a second book. But in any case, it's a fun read!

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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