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.
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.
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...
on 7 September 2015
Professor of genetics Don Tillman has a wife problem, he believes it is is purely a question of finding a solution, a logical solution and so begins his search for love, and a suitable partner.
“I've sequenced the questions for maximum speed of elimination,’ I explained. ‘I believe I can eliminate most women in less than forty seconds. Then you can choose the topic of discussion for the remaining time.’
‘But then it won’t matter,’ said Frances. ‘I’ll have been eliminated.’
‘Only as a potential partner. We may still be able to have an interesting discussion.’
‘But I’ll have been eliminated.’
I nodded. ‘Do you smoke?’
‘Occasionally,’ she said.
I put the questionnaire away. ‘Excellent.’ I was pleased that my question sequencing was working so well. We could have wasted time talking about ice-cream flavours and make-up only to find that she smoked. Needless to say, smoking was not negotiable. ‘No more questions. What would you like to discuss?”Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project
His total blindness of his own problem and the fact that he has resolved most problems in his life through logic and study are what makes this a very funny book, like the movie Big the innocence and honesty of the character makes the story shine with freshness and insight of the problems most of us face, but accept as normal everyday human relations.
“I have heard the word ‘stunning’ used to describe women, but this was the first time I had actually been stunned by one.” Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project
This is s beautiful comedy that has some lovely moments of humanity and understanding that will have you one minute laughing and the next feeling total empathy for Don’s everyday dilemmas, as we begin to experience the world through his eyes
“I haven’t changed my mind. That’s the point! I want to spend my life with you even though it’s totally irrational. And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you.”
― Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project
A very good companion to have on a day you are taking the train to work or on a long flight, just be careful you don't start laughing out loud or looking too sad in the company of strangers, you may have to explain the solution to the Wife Problem.
on 21 July 2016
A charming book based around a man of science who doesn't quite understand the human condition, or at least not from an emotional point of view. In his scientific world, concepts like love and affection do not come easily to him. This is of course the story of how life can change. As the title suggest it is a blend science and emotion. Trying to tackle a subject as unfathomable and unreasonable as love but quantifying it with numbers and rational. A wonderfully written story that allows you insight to a person who may not see things the way others do. It is a tale of growth, understanding, comprimise and willingness to evolve.
Overall a throughly enjoyable read. It may not be a classic of its time but it is certainly worth a read. A great holiday book!
on 29 April 2015
I loved this book - it was funny, poignant and original; how many books can you truly say that about? I have to admit I went in fully prepared to dislike the MC. Don is almost completely without understanding of social skills, hyper intelligent and conditioned to believe certain mindsets as truths - for instance someone in a lower status job is less intelligent. However when new information comes to light he alters his thinking. Somehow the author really makes us see the world through Don's eyes while at the same time allowing us to both cringe and laugh at his social gaffs. It's only later when we realize that he does know that he's approaching things the wrong way but plays into it because it's better to be seen as the clown or buffoon by your own choice, that it really sinks in just how difficult it is to navigate in a world of social conventions that you have no frame of reference for and worse no in build facility to respond and adapt too!
This was also a brilliant love story - Rosie is fresh, funny, vibrant, intelligent and completely messed up. She's also perceptive and kind which is a combination I want to see in more female characters. It's not always about sticking it to the patriarchy!
The best romantic comedy I've read since Bridget Jones and a corker of a book. I'm so glad the next one is soon available.
on 22 October 2015
Many truly hilarious moments in this book, as well as some very poignant ones.
Don is a very intelligent Professor, who is a little different. No friends but one, due to his social ineptness, and total honesty and belief in science. He has no "soft" skills at all, and is literal in his approach to life. His life is completely organised to the nth degree as he does not like surprises and inefficiency. He wants to try one last time to develop a relationship with a woman, as he does not want to be alone forever. So, he approaches this objective as a science project -"the wife project", much like scientific research is structured. How to filter, select the best candidate with whom he can have a relationship, is the task. And what traits,values,qualities etc exactly would be required in a woman for him to be interested in her? And then, how to measure each potential candidate's suitability.
A great story.
Too many over the top , unlikely situations to make it believable at any level and therefor not nearly as amusing as it should have been. Our main character, Don suffers from Asbergers syndrome and his many idiosyncrasies are quite amusing at first,but even the best joke ( and this isn't one) told over and over again on nearly every page becomes tiered and boring. Rosie is an absolute charmer and her dialogue is crisp, fast and funny. Will this mismatch become a match as they seek the identity of her biological father?
Not a bad book, but not good enough for me to seek further work by Mr. Simsion.
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.