The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
2013 Simon & Schuster
Finished on March 1, 2015
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
Professor of genetics Don Tillman’s life is turned upside down when he embarks upon the Wife Project in order to find a suitable mate despite his quirky habits and demanding personality. When a psychology PhD student named Rosie walks into his office, she’s all wrong—her hair is dyed, her clothes are sloppy, she smokes and she is habitually late. But then again, something is right about her… Don just can’t recognize it at first. As the Wife Project takes a back burner to Rosie’s project of identifying her biological father, Don finds himself breaking all kinds of rules and breaking out of his routines in ways that are both uncomfortable and exciting. When a research trip takes them from Australia to New York City, and Don’s career is threatened by his allegiance to Rosie, Don must face the toughest puzzle of all—himself. In the end, Don must confront his long-held notions of what it means to love and connect with people and what it truly means to open up and trust someone.
The Rosie Project is a highly entertaining novel that made me laugh out loud on several occasions. The appealing character of Don Tillman reminded me of Patricia Wood’s Perry, the eccentric main character in her equaling charming novel, Lottery. Neither character is stupid, but rather both demonstrate a naïve innocence about the ways of the world, combined with a complete lack of understanding of the nuances of social etiquette. Tillman also reminds me a bit of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, with his logical approach to even the most mundane chores. For instance, Don has implemented a “Standardized Meal System,” which allows him to prepare his weekly meals with as little fuss as possible. And the advantages of such a system?
1. No need to accumulate recipe books.
2. Standard shopping list – hence very efficient shopping.
3. Almost zero waste – nothing in the refrigerator or pantry unless required for one of the recipes.
4. Diet planned and nutritionally balanced in advance.
5. No time wasted wondering what to cook.
6. No mistakes, no unpleasant surprises.
7. Excellent food, superior to most restaurants at a much lower price (see point 3).
8. Minimal cognitive load required.
Sounds a bit dull, no? Well, one of Don’s weekly recipes includes a lobster, mango, and avocado salad with wasabi-coating flying fish rose and crispy seaweed and deep-fried leek garnish. Perhaps he’s on to something! While I love to peruse my favorite cookbooks and enjoy cooking for the most part, it would be nice to not have to think of what to fix for dinner, night after night, week after week.
On the discovery of a new found joy:
Hurtling back to town, in a red Porsche driven by a beautiful woman, with the song playing, I had the sense of standing on the brink of another world. I recognized the feeling, which, if anything, became stronger as the rain started falling and the convertible roof malfunctioned so we were unable to raise it. It was the same feeling that I had experienced looking over the city after the Balcony Meal, and again after Rosie had written down her phone number. Another world, another life, proximate but inaccessible.Favorite Quotes:
The elusive… Sat-is-fac-tion.
Research consistently shows that the risks to health outweigh the benefits of drinking alcohol. My argument is that the benefits to my mental health justify the risks. ~ Don
I need not be visibly odd. I could engage in the protocols that others followed and move undetected among them. And how could I be sure that other people were not doing the same - playing the game to be accepted but suspecting all the time that they were different? ~ Don
The ending of The Rosie Project was a bit rushed and unclear, so I decided to check Google to see if I understood the final outcome and, as it turns out, I wasn't the only one who was confused. Nonetheless, I highly recommend Simsion’s clever and witty debut novel! I was sorry to say goodbye to these delightful characters, but as luck would have it, there is already a sequel (The Rosie Effect), which I plan to read later this spring.
He's a socially inept scientist who's tone deaf to irony. She's an edgy young woman whose fallback mode is sarcasm. Put them together, and hilarity ensues in Australian IT consultant Graeme Simsion's first novel, The Rosie Project. It's an utterly winning screwball comedy about a brilliant, emotionally challenged geneticist who's determined to find a suitable wife with the help of a carefully designed questionnaire, and the patently unsuitable woman who keeps distracting him from his search. If you're looking for sparkling entertainment along the lines of Where'd You Go Bernadette and When Harry Met Sally, The Rosie Project is this season's fix. (Heller McAlpin, a New York-based critic who reviews books regularly for NPR.org, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.)About the Author:
Graeme Simsion is a former IT consultant and the author of two nonfiction books on database design who decided at the age of fifty to turn his hand to fiction. The Rosie Project is his first novel, and his screen adaption has been optioned by Sony Pictures. Graeme lives in Australia with his wife, Anne, and their two children.