139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most enjoyable book of the year
Don is lecturer in genetics at a university in University in Melbourne, Australia. He is single, on the brink of his fortieth birthday and leads a highly systemized life dominated by routines, list, structures and timetables. You can count all his friends on the fingers of one finger, unless you include, Claudia, wife of his friend Gene, lecturer in evolutionary...
Published 15 months ago by Kartowidjojo
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different and funny, but over-hyped
Don Tillman is a genetics Professor in Melbourne, his life one that is dominated by routines and strict schedules and order; he knows that his brain works differently to most, social situations in particular are not his forte, however, the way he sees it he is governed by logic and reason as opposed to his emotions. Approaching his fortieth birthday, Don decides that he...
Published 4 months ago by little bookworm
Most Helpful First | Newest First
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different and funny, but over-hyped,
Don Tillman is a genetics Professor in Melbourne, his life one that is dominated by routines and strict schedules and order; he knows that his brain works differently to most, social situations in particular are not his forte, however, the way he sees it he is governed by logic and reason as opposed to his emotions. Approaching his fortieth birthday, Don decides that he wants to get married; it being well documented that married men live longer and are happier. To this end he embarks on the wife project, for which he designs a specific questionnaire in order to efficiently select his ideal partner. Then Rosie enters his life, and all logic and reason swiftly goes out of the window!
The Rosie Project makes for a diverting and unusual read, mainly because it is told entirely from Don's perspective and his rather unique take on the world. Don as the central character is utterly delightful, and hard not to warm to despite all his oddities. In essence he could be Sheldon Cooper's (from the Big Bang Theory) twin; and he makes for a refreshing hero.
I actually probably preferred the first part of the story, as we get to know Don and his little routines, e.g. the very efficient standardised meal system, and as he devises his questionnaire to seek out the perfect wife; however, then Rosie enters the story and it starts to drift off in another direction. There is initially some confusion between the two characters, Don assuming Rosie to be an applicant, albeit a very unsuitable one, for the wife project, when in actual fact she is seeking his advice as a genetics expert to help track down her real father. This assumption being cleared, Don sets out helping Rosie gather DNA samples to find out who her real father is; this element of the plot actually then becoming quite a dominant one in the story, and I have to say that personally I felt it rather dragged out, Simsion rather going into too much detail over it all, and more that I particularly cared for or was invested in. Furthermore, I thought the actual resolution to the father project to be very weak.
Obviously as Rosie and Don spend time together on the father project, they start to develop a friendship; Rosie challenging quite a lot of Don's views and throwing him into situations he is unaccustomed to, but often finds himself enjoying as he loosens up and stops sticking so rigidly to all his routines. There are plenty of amusing incidents that follow to this effect, and you can easily see where the story is heading; however, personally I found Don's progress to becoming more socially adept and his willingness to alter his hitherto strict routines rather too quick, particularly as it is implied that he likely suffers from undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome. In real life such dramatic changes would be unlikely to occur in so short a time span, and as such the condition is perhaps trivialised in a way.
My other main criticism is that I did at times struggle to warm to Rosie; often she simply came across as too immature and angry, in particular regarding her issues with her father.
Overall an entertaining read, and certainly different to the usual in the romantic comedy genre, with some interesting food for thought and a very likable lead character. However, from all the glowing reviews I had probably been expecting more than I got; and as such did feel that the book may have been over-hyped a little.
139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most enjoyable book of the year,
Don is lecturer in genetics at a university in University in Melbourne, Australia. He is single, on the brink of his fortieth birthday and leads a highly systemized life dominated by routines, list, structures and timetables. You can count all his friends on the fingers of one finger, unless you include, Claudia, wife of his friend Gene, lecturer in evolutionary psychology. Claudia, a psychologist herself, is Don's ad hoc therapist. The story begins with Don substituting for Gene to deliver a lecture on Asperger's to facilitate Gene latest endeavor in philandering. Gene is attempting to `collect' a woman from ever country in the world. It is clear, though not to Don, that he has much in common with the subjects of his lecture.
It has reached Don's attention that married men are happier and live longer. It is therefore logical that he should become married. To that end he formulates a state-of-the-art questionnaire and engages in some dating activities, which he sees mainly as opportunities to collect data via the questionnaire. The questionnaire proves useless and Gene acquires the completed scripts in order to make use of the geographical data they contain. At the same time, Gene sets Don up with Rosie, one of his PhD students.
Rosie is completely unsuitable, naturally, but as soon as she appears on the scene, the course of the rest of the book is clear to the readers.
THE ROSIE PROJECT is the most enjoyable read I have had for a very long time. Obviously, one can debate how good a book is, but there is no real debate about emotional response. I loved it from first to last. I laughed, I cried. I got out of bed at 3am to read more.
The voice is first person from Don's crippling matter-of-fact Aspergers point of view. As a picture of autism, this is every bit as good as Dustin Hoffman in RAINMAN. Don is a superb character, an absolutely faultless creation. The gimmick of using the voice of a misfit almost always fails, but when gimmicks work (LIFE OF PI, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT...) they turn clichés into art. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT can be seen as children's book at some levels. ROSIE is 100% grown-up.
If you strip Don's issues out of the story, then it is not worth telling, and that is the point. The plot must be banal, because it is exactly that - the ordinary, predictable vagaries of social interactions - that cause Don his problems. Complexity and confusion are redundant in Don's life.
Don's gradual crack-up and the comedy set-pieces are all very well executed. A love story like this must have a heartbreaking climax and it is indeed very sad to watch everything fall apart before it gets put together again. The background of academia is just as well done as anything in David Lodge, really. The `facts' about genetics and social interactions are very satisfying.
Rosie is written more or less as a romantic comedy movie, but it is more or less impossible to see how it could be made into a movie, because the book is very subtle indeed. As a movie it would become terribly gauche.
I know nothing about the author, but it is really hard to imagine that this is a first novel. Likewise, it's hard to work out where he might go next. One feels that one is in expert company, probably that of a Melbourne academic.
Having enjoyed the book so much, I'm slightly worried that I might have `misjudged' it somewhat, whatever that means. It could easily provoke a `so what' response in some. I'd like to think that my emotional response demands that the work be `quality'. I could talk about it for hours.
99 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Don Tillman,
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Don Tillman is a professor of genetics. He narrates this story in which his main focus is to find a perfect wife.
It soon becomes apparent that Don is fairly well advanced on the aspergers scale - he struggles with social interaction, has to plan his life to the last minute, is not flexible and is well above average intelligence.
At first his thoughts are quite strange but quickly be becomes very endearing and I found myself chuckling at his analyses of his various projects. He thinks differently from most people which comes across in every thought that goes through his head.
It would be easy to ridicule him but this author manages to make Don funny without ever making him an object of fun.
Overall you get a book with a neat and tidy plot of which I think Don would approve.
Great to read something a bit different.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A hit and miss project,
Don Tillman is an Associate Professor of Genetics with (probably) Asperger's Syndrome who has decided that, as he is nearing 40, he will solve "the wife problem" (ie. not being married) by creating a questionnaire that will ascertain, for him, the perfect wife and then marry her. That is until he meets Rosie, a grad student working part-time in a gay bar who's looking for her biological father, and slowly Don's "Wife Project" becomes "The Rosie Project" as he realises he's falling in love with her.
I say that Don probably has Aspergers because it's never explicitly stated but as he narrates the book in the first person, the reader is immediately aware that he sees the world differently than the rest of us. It's kind of like having Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory" talking to you - Don is a genius with no social skills who's unable to read facial expressions and has a highly regimented lifestyle and peculiar way of speaking.
Couple that with the opening scene where he gives a talk on Aspergers and it's highly suggested that he has it. Not knowing anyone with Aspergers, I can't tell whether he sounds convincingly like someone with it but what little I know of the condition suggests that his personality is unlikely to change as dramatically as Don's does throughout the book. It's almost like his meeting Rosie reverses the condition. I mean, he's unable to feel love - but he can? He's unable to read facial expressions or understand social conventions - but then he can?
Nevertheless I thought the first 200 pages of the book were charming. Don is a likeable guy whose eccentric lifestyle makes a change of pace to the usual rom-com formula and the different angle it gives to the genre made me interested in it even though romantic comedies aren't usually my thing. There were also some excellent scenes that stuck out memorably like Don and Rosie's first date, from using aikido on the waiters to altering time and having dinner on a whiteboard (not as surreal as it sounds but nice touches anyway), and Don and Rosie's moonlighting as cocktail waiters and Don using his remarkable memory (eidetic?) to take complex drink orders for dozens of people at a time. I read the first two-thirds of the book in a couple days, smiling a lot throughout. And then I got to the final third which took me over a week and ruined the book for me.
The first 200 pages had been unique to the rom-com genre and felt highly original which is why I responded so well to it - it wasn't going over the same ground countless other stories had gone over before. The final third is all about convention and it opens with a scene in New York. The story is set in Australia but because Don and Rosie are hell bent on finding Rosie's biological father, their search takes them to two possible fathers in NY. This 50 page section felt completely contrived and could've been cut from the book entirely.
This book was originally a screenplay and these scenes felt very cinematic and included so that film backers would have recognisable locations for their film to make it easier to sell, rather than serving the story. Yes, the finding Rosie's real dad storyline is in play but if you took those two people away from NY and cut it entirely, the book would've been snappier. As such it feels really contrived and dull, like the scene in the movie where the two romantic leads get to do a kind of montage sequence of things. It also constantly references other romantic comedy movies the entire time too, adding to the feeling that this is a homage to the genre and included because that's what's expected when you do something like this.
Then the final 70 or so pages are about Don winning Rosie back and it's done in such a conventionally rom-com way that I totally lost interest. Worse, Don's character didn't seem consistent in this part either (see the criticisms in the Aspergers section above).
I've used the label "romantic-comedy" throughout because that's what the marketing says it is but it's not. It's romantic, sure, but it's not funny. I didn't laugh once and didn't think Don's numerous social faux pas to be particularly funny either. Worse still are the scenes which are clumsily designed to be funny and feel very forced, like when Don is learning sexual positions from a book and uses a skeleton (he's at the university for this scene so it's not a Dahmer moment or anything) and the Dean walks in on him. It feels like the kind of scene in a sitcom where the canned laughter goes on and on as the camera switches from Don's face to the Dean's and back again while the audience begins to clap and laugh at the same time. It might as well be labelled "funny scene". And it's not.
Despite my criticisms, I was quite happy to give this book 3 stars - until I read the end. Now I know the ending shouldn't have more importance over any other aspect of the story, whatever the genre, but the ending to this book is especially bad. So Rosie at the very start when she's introduced to Don, tells him about her dad Phil, a man who raised her alone after her mum died when Rosie was 12, who's a person whom she doesn't particularly get along with (largely because of a minor quibble which she's unreasonably held against him for her entire life) - but no more so than any other person who doesn't get along with their mum or dad for whatever reason. Except she's convinced herself he can't possibly be her real dad and that her real dad must be out there somewhere. This is basically the motivation for everything Don and Rosie do in this entire book and right off, I thought "I bet it turns out Phil IS her real dad after all". Well... I won't give it away but you can kind of guess what happens in the end. And I really, really hated that. Don all but says what I was feeling in the second-to-final sentence of the book and I immediately dropped the book down another star.
This book definitely has some good moments and Don is a memorable and oftentimes delightful character, but the final third of the book really frustrated me. If the book had been more tightly edited with the NY sequence thrown out and had had a less predictable ending, I would be enthusiastically recommending this novel. As it is, it is a flawed debut novel that's well written but severely lacking in crucial parts of the story reducing it from a charmingly quirky romance story to yet another rom-com with no surprises and a sloppily rushed final act. Graeme Simsion can write and he might one day write a brilliant novel but sadly "The Rosie Project" is not that book.
62 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am in love with Don Tillman. An absolute joy of a book.,
I was around two pages in when I realised I was falling in love with the main character. Not many books make you feel from the first chapter that you never want the book to end; that the journey you're starting with a character is going to be a complete joy. By page three, I was already casting the film roles in my head.
I've read several books very recently with highly intelligent but socially awkward male narrators. This is definitely a class above. Don is a fully-formed, routine-driven, social misfit. He's frustrating, maddening but completely adorable.
Don may be the awkward (genetics) Professor but he is also lonely, and so he designs a 'foolproof' questionnaire to weed out unsuitable women as part of his Wife Project. No woman who doesn't fit the criteria can be considered. You may think you know where this is going...
His search for a perfect partner is at the core of the book. It's a search that brings a smile to the reader's face as Don faces situations in which his literal self struggles with social conventions, and often causes titters, sniggers and beaming smiles at his reactions, and those of people around him. There are some wonderful set-pieces; the dancing scene at the start hard to beat.
It's important to stretch yourself sometimes with a challenging book and it's just as important to wallow in a warm-hearted and comic story.
This is begging for a Hollywood adaptation. Just cast it right, please, producers!
Such a fabulous read. One of the very few I may put on the 'to read again' list. High praise indeed...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so Rosie,
I thought the story could have been engaging if the female characters were better written. The protagonist, Don, was interesting and funny. But, Rosie, was a spoilt manipulator who still acts like a child. All the other female characters were one dimensional, shallow or feeble minded.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feel-good easy read with a difference,
This review is from: The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1 (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this, and couldn't put it down. On one hand its a light funny rom-com, that feels like it will be a successful feel-good film, on the other hand it educates the normal socially adept reader to see the social world from an alternative point of view. We see the world from Don's view point, an Australian genetics professor with many Asperges traits. I found it hard not to give him an American accent because he is very much like Sheldon in the 'Big Bang Theory'. By the end, though, Don's character is definitely distinct from Sheldon's (though in reality such a big change in social skills is unlikely to occur). I think they are both great, not because I think they are hilarious, as some readers do, but because I can relate to their way of thinking, which really makes me smile. Thankfully I only have a few of the traits, like sometimes taking things literally and finding it hard to lie or break rules.
I think it's ironic that so many readers seemed to have warmed to Don's character yet in real life many people keep their distance from those who are affected by Asperges syndrome. I hope the book helps to educate the public, and make them more understanding of those who are different. Ah, but I should explain, it's not Don that is different, it's everyone else!
4.0 out of 5 stars Sheldon in love,
Honestly - a 3.5 if that were possible.
I picked up this book for a relaxed holiday week and it turned out to be exactly that - an easy, fun, romantic comedy equivalent of a book.
Don Tillman is a university professor who does not think of himself as being on the autistic spectrum although has made a fair attempt to give a lecture on it right at the beginning of the book. He does posess many qualities that we relate to the disorder - he follows a strict routine, he is socially awkward and is incapable of "reading between the lines". His attempt to find himslef a companion goes through various stages, from speed dating to a questionnaire with no room for deviation from his "norm". "The wife project" quickly transforms into "the father project" and later "the Rosie project" when he is introduced to a woman who is completely unsuitable according to Don's standards, but presents him with an opportunity to use his analytical skills in her search of her biological father.
I enjoyed following the changes Don goes through on all possible levels, although at times they were doubtful (speaking as a reader familiar with the autistic spectrum disorder). Nevertheless, the book is not about that. There were plenty of comical and truly funny disasters as well as some touchy moments that made me sympathise with Don and I was a little uspset to have finished the book and leaving the well pictured characters behind.
The biggest flaw of the book was for sure the last few chapters as the pace of the book picked up a tad too much and I felt a bit rushed towards the end.
This book will be an awesome read for everyone who enjoyed "The Curious Incedent of the Dog in the Night-Time" and/or is a fan of the Big Bang Theory.
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, touching and a good page turner.,
An excellent story about love (as opposed to a love story). Following a rather bizarre tale of Genetics Researcher Don and his routines and structures, his best friends open and failing marriage and the life of Rosie a very alternative PhD student as they are all wrapped up in his quest for a Wife.
I loved the fast pace and comedy of the story. Simsion has good comic timing, and the parts of the plot... though quite strange, fit the characters and move though in a believable way. In a lot of ways whilst the circumstances of the novel are unlikely to ever happen in real life (trust me no one dances at University Balls, not like that). The way the love stories come together feel far more real than any other novel I have read if only because they are predicated by the flaws and strengths of the characters - not from outside events.
The characters are well written, even thought the first person perspective of the book relegates them to scenery in some ways; a terrible shame as they were all quite interesting and it would have been nice to learn more of them - rather than their main personality point and their actions. Especially the relationship between Claudia and Don - a lot is hinted to in the book, but its clear she is part mother/part friend/part therapist and part irritated beyond all belief with him.
I felt that Don's conceptualisation was a little stereotypical since whilst its never pinned on Don, its clear the author is aiming for a high functioning ASD character. I found it very jarring on occasion when he "explained" his foibles, but then I am friends with, and married to people with similar differing perspectives on the world. I would not say many cognise their world view quite as clearly as Don... because its all pervasive to them - you do not really think about a lot of your choices like that. Because of it Don does come across as a bit of a caricature, more Sheldon from the Big Bang than a real person (but loveable nonetheless).
But that aside, its touching and funny. There was not a page I turned where I was not routing for the characters or smiling, or indeed slightly cringing in third party embarrassment. Its 'importance' as reported in the media is a little overstated, but don't be put off by the hype. Its very well written and very enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good summer read.
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a very funny read and that is not making fun of the situations that Don finds himself in.,
This review is from: The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1 (Paperback)
A recent choice for the Tywyn Book Club that I participate in and although I enjoyed it and had heard about it, I still doubt it is something I would have chosen to read for myself. The style of writing I found was at first not an easy one, but considering the subject matter it fits the concept perfectly.
The male protagonist, Don Tillman is an Asperger's Syndrome Sufferer and finds relationships and the concept of relating to others with emotion a very difficult one to manage. If you know someone with this condition as I do it is even more interesting to see life through a sufferer's eyes. I actually learnt more about how difficult it can be for those people to relate to others, so for that reason alone it was well worth while reading. It is a very funny read and that is not making fun of the situations that Don finds himself in.
Nearing his fortieth birthday Don has decided that the time is right for him to get married, the problem is he has no idea who his future wife is to be. A genetics professor uncomfortable in social situations he has decided that the way forward with his challenge is not to date anyone that is unsuitable. To overcome this obstacle he writes a comprehensive questionnaire that all prospective dates have to complete before he will even consider going out with them. With his good looks, apparently a Gregory Peck look a like he is not short of offers but his impossible high and inflexible demands are not making it easy for him to find the one! Searching for love is not it seems the easy option and maybe love will come looking from an unexpected direction and take him quite by surprise. No spoilers, so to find out if the project is successful read the book, it is worth it, completely different from anything else you have read recently I suspect.
In my opinion 'The Times' nailed it when they said in a review that Don Tillman is one of the most endearing, charming and fascinating literary characters of recent times. Completely in agreement with their comment this has to be recommended reading for those of us that always enjoyed the Adrian Mole character from the late Sue Townsend. Maybe Don Tillman will become just as popular as it would be great to learn more about his life, let us hope Graeme Simsion has plans for a future for his creation.
NB. Since writing the above I have learnt 'The Rosie Effect' will be published in September 2014.
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The Rosie Project: Don Tillman 1 by Graeme Simsion (Paperback - 2 Jan 2014)