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Customer Review

213 of 220 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most enjoyable book of the year, 4 May 2013
This review is from: The Rosie Project (Hardcover)
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.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 May 2013 20:51:56 BDT
"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."

You make a very good point here, Kartowidjojo.

Posted on 1 Apr 2014 11:52:53 BDT
salford girl says:
I totally agree with this review. I loved this book, but strangely found myself wondering why. A recent MOOC in Cognitive Poetics gave me some clue, I could really empathise with Don in a way I had not with the narrator of The Curious Incident of .. Perhaps this says something about me, but also made me think about the individual impact of Aspergers. Or was it something about an adult voice bring different to a child voice.

Posted on 8 Jun 2014 16:35:53 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 21 Aug 2014 19:25:10 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Aug 2014 19:26:49 BDT
Thank you for a thoughtful and insightful review - it's nice to have it sitting at the top of the Amazon list! (And I'm not an Melbourne academic, though I've done quite a bit of contract teaching and some research at Melb Uni. It was enough for my purposes...)
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