on 22 April 2014
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.
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.
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...
Before I got this book, I had no idea that this book had a main character who has Asperger's (hence the aspies rule!). I have taught children who we have been labelled as 'suffering ' from Asperger's syndrome. It is only after reading this story that I sat down and realised that I have never considered how/why it affects people the way it does....Don Tillman, the main character helped me to see that people that have Asperger's are just individuals who don't think or do things in the way that the majority of the population does. There is nothing wrong with them. Thank you Graeme Simsion for helping me to realise this very obvious fact!
Returning to the book, it is actually a superbly written story. It's a romance with intelligent comedy timing. I especially liked how Don would say exactly what he was thinking e.g. At one of his lectures, he points to a lady who has her hand raised to ask a question, and says 'yes, the fat lady at the back.'
Don has decided that he can find a wife (which he previously thought was impossible for him) via a questionnaire that he has devised. He goes about trying different ways of meeting women who he can then convince to complete the very comprehensive questionnaire.
As he begins this 'wife project' he also meets Rosie who does not tick any of his boxes on his questionnaire. He rules her completely as a possible candidate for a wife, but he agrees to help her find her real father, Don is a geneticist and aids her by testing DNA that they steal from possible suspects AKA as men that her deceased mother may have slept with at a medical school party..
I don't want to tell you more as I want everyone to enjoy this great book. If you like romance that is not too sickly sweet, want to learn something about the characteristics of Asperger's and meet a cast of interesting characters then I highly recommend this book.
on 3 January 2014
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!
on 9 July 2014
writer seems to confuse aspergers with sociopathic personality disorder. as someone with aspergers I was recommended this book but foudn it offensive. For example, the character gives a lecture at university on aspergers and explains how its an evolutionary selective advantage because people with aspergers can kill babies without sentiment if needs be.
Ridiculous. People with aspergers have no problems caring, its just we find it hyarder to read the signals that someone is troubled. Once we know we are the same as everyone else. Killing a baby is an obvious too... it would greatly distress someone with aspergers. People with aspergers are also often intense animal lovers.
It worries me that people are reading this book to learn more about the condition and gaining the opinion we are sociopaths.
I had a horrible feeling I was going to be in a minority for this one. I was one of the few who really disliked One Day, and although I didn't feel as strongly negative about this one, I am still perplexed at all the love being sent its way.
Superficially, it is a sweet, easy-to-read story about a highly intellectually intelligent genetics expert, Don Tillman, who has somehow reached the age of 40 without realising, or being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He has no social skills and lacks empathy and therefore has not had much luck with the ladies. So he devizes a questionnaire to help him identify a suitable candidate to be his life partner. No prizes for guessing what happens next. Someone comes along (Rosie) who fails the questionnaire completely but who he comes to love. He also has a friend called Gene who is a middle-aged serial seducer married to the long-suffering Claudia.
It's supposed to be funny but all the humour comes from the fact that Don puts his foot in it all the time because he doesn't understand the complexities of human behaviour. This idiot savant character I found both patronising and irritating. Nobody is this two dimensional (no actually, the other characters in the book are also this two dimensional). Just writing about it is making me feel cross.
It's an easy read. There are one or two laugh-out-loud moments, but they made me feel a bit uncomfortable. The end is slushy. I didn't much like it. Lots of people obviously did. Sorry.
on 24 May 2015
Knocking on age forty, autistic Professor Don Tillman, genetics authority, launches a highly scientific search for a wife. Along the way he meets Rosie who, although unsuitable as a potential mate, does inspire him to embark with her on another quest: to discover her real father through clandestine DNA testing. This unlikely pair form the heart of a very funny and heart-warming book that will have you laughing out loud. You will love Don Tillman who is completely aware that he is wired differently, and struggles gamely to understand the rules of conventional social engagement. Quick to read, hard to put down, this delightful novel leaves a smile on your face!
on 28 February 2014
I’ve never seen The Rosie Project in a shop or on a bookshelf and I’ve never met anyone who has read it but I’ve been hearing about it all over the place. It’s like an internet sensation, a viral book, that has been riding high in the Amazon charts for months and has been tempting me to read it for some time. It’s a debut, so perfect for my Day Zero challenge (#27: Read 10 new debut novels) and when I finally spotted it as a Kindle Bargain, I couldn’t resist.
Don Tillman is lots of things – a member of the Autism Spectrum, a highly intelligent College Professor, a Man of routine, a meat eater, a non-smoker, punctual, logical … and single. As he nears his 40th birthday, Don decides it time to launch The Wife Project in an attempt to find a suitable life partner. He creates a lengthy questionnaire and promotes it well, attracting many candidates (a handsome College Professor makes for a good Husband material) but despite his questionnaire, the Women he selects from the candidate list are not suitable in one way or another.
He enlists his friend, Gene, to help him with his quest. He asks Gene to pick one of the as yet unseen candidates and Gene sends Rosie to meet Don. A smoker, a drinker, a vegetarian – Rosie is not what Don is looking for and he wonders how Gene managed to select her. However, Rosie is vibrant, funny and clever and soon Don finds himself letting go a little, freeing himself from his strict routine.
Rosie has one problem, something that has played upon her mind for her entire life – she does not know who her biological Father is and as her Mother died when she was 10, she has no way of finding out. Thus begins The Father Project. With Don’s help on the genetic science front, a night of cocktails, a couple of international flights and a severe lack of ethical protocol, they manage to DNA test the many Men who could possibly be Rosie’s Father. As The Father Project reaches it’s conclusion, Don realises that despite failing his questionnaire in many ways, Rosie might just be The One for him. Don begins his final project – The Rosie Project – but can he persuade Rosie that she should become Mrs Tillman before it’s too late?
Don is a wonderful character – funny, intelligent and unassuming. His dry wit throughout the book is it’s greatest ingredient and you’ll be looking forward to his next literal, yet hilarious comment. Don’s attempts at social interaction also bring great humour, yet at the same time you’ll be astounded at what he can do – such as memorising the cocktail orders of a full reunion party, à la Rain Man and judging what a person’s BMI is just by glancing at them.
I loved that The Rosie Project was told from Don’s point of view – this is not a story about Don, it is a story by Don and I think that makes a world of difference. There is no judgement in this book, Don’s friends will help him when he looks to improve aspects of himself, but there is no pressure on him to change. When Rosie appears, you can tell that she is the same, open to Don’s shortcomings but equally willing to help him overcome them. The fact that Don accepts his lack of natural ability in certain aspects of his life means that the reader does not feel sympathy for him from afar, but joins him on his journey in creating a happier existence for himself.
The Rosie Project is on the whole, an enjoyable, unique romantic comedy but for me, there were a few shortfalls. The ending seemed rushed and predictable, which in standard romcom’s is expected, but in a book such as this which is not only about differences, but appears to be different in itself, it was a little frustrating. There are also moments when it seems as though Don is somehow cured of his condition. The writer throws in a few ad-hoc “Don-isms” to try and counteract this but it just does not seem realistic, and results in both Don and the book as a whole losing their identity somewhat.
My Rating 3/5 – What starts as a unique romantic comedy with a wonderful narrator, disappointingly ends with a hasty, predictable dash in the final chapters. If the many great aspects of The Rosie Project had continued throughout, this could have been a 5* read but as Don starts to lose his identity, the novel follows a similar path. This book makes several valid points; you that you don’t have to be emotional to feel emotion, and you don’t have to eat Lobster every Tuesday and in that vain, you don’t have to agree with every book review you read. With many great reviews out there, it is certainly worth a look to create your own opinion but in my opinion, internet hype and the need for people to embrace difference have given this book a reputation it can’t live up to.
Don is a little different. He has Asperger's syndrome (though he himself fails to recognise this) and so can be rather blunt and socially awkward. Often missing basic human signals Don frequently misinterprets situations and thus finds himself with very few friends and no wife. Here comes in: The Wife Project. Don creates a questionnaire that he believes is a foolproof way of finding a wife. Although there are four answers to every question, only one of them is correct in Don's eyes and a woman must score 100% on the test before he'll consider taking her out on a date. But then there's Rosie, the complete opposite of what Don is looking for, but something keeps bringing him back to her.
I've heard so many good things about The Rosie Project ever since it was published so I couldn't wait to get my claws into this on my holiday away. This is the perfect holiday read for those who are looking for something that is light-hearted and funny but not wishy-washy. Whilst this book is about finding love, its not sappy in the slightest because it is written from the perspective of Don and he is the sort of man who listens to reason, and not his emotions (the few that he has). It's incredibly funny because you get to see right into the mind of Don, a bizarre man, who doesn't think like the rest of us. His reactions to social situations and general human interaction are incredibly amusing, as is his lack of comprehension. To the reader, it is obvious what is going on, but to Don it is not, so you yourself feel like you're a part of the novel, keeping something from Don. You know something that that doesn't and there's always something exciting about knowing something your favourite character does not. I grew very fond of him as the novel progressed and his character development over the course of the story is truly heart warming.
Rosie, too, is a character that you start to root for, and I really admired her for treating Don like an adult, like any other man, and didn’t change, adapt or explain anything to him, preferring to leave him to develop himself. There are a lot of unspoken thoughts and feelings in The Rosie Project, which are all glaringly obvious to the reader, so the more you read, the more desperate you are for all to be revealed and a real sense of momentum builds up. Despite this, I wouldn't say that the story is all that predictable in that Graeme Simsion still leaves the possibility for sudden plot twists and as Don is not your typical man, you can never be quite sure what he's going to do.
This isn’t the sort of romance that gives you butterflies, it’s not a whirlwind romance and it’s not love at first sight. This story develops a beautiful relationship between two people who are both a bit quirky and it is because of that you keep reading. It’s not full of grand gestures; this is about true love based on personalities, which I thought was very refreshing.
What’s more, the plot isn’t all about Don and Rosie, it’s much bigger than that. This pair work incredibly hard trying to solve the mystery of who Rosie’s father is – an experiment that leads them on many adventures, all of which are hilarious. The ‘romance’ is at once one of the main features and one of the side notes. It’s always there but rarely explicitly discussed.
In addition to Rosie and Don there are Don’s best friends, Gene and his wife Claudia. These supporting characters are essential to the plot line, slowly helping Don along without explicitly giving him a shove in the right direction. Claudia acts as a sort of mother figure to Don, offering him kind advice whenever he is in need. Gene is the opposite – he is a researcher in human attraction who’s trying to sleep with women from every single country. For research purposes of course. There are lots of characters in this book that have ‘clashing’ personalities, and yet somehow Graeme Simsion manages to mash them all together giving each individual character a different role in the novel.
All in all, this is a fantastic and hugely funny read. At the start of the novel, Don is the sort of man who has his weekly schedule planned out to the hour and throughout the novel we see huge changes taking place in life, all because of Rosie. This novel is quite as predictable as it may first seem Rosie’s spontaneity mixed with Don’s unpredictability make it difficult to really know what’s coming next. It’s rare to find a love story as gently and finely developed as this so I’d highly recommend this to anyone who’s bored of your stereotypical fictional romances.