The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Entertaining

December 24, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. (2013) French title: Le théorème du homard.

This month, I’m supposed to read Dead Souls by Gogol before my next Book Club meeting. I am too tired to concentrate on it and so far, I haven’t been able to go further than page 2. Yes, it doesn’t sound good. So, I’ve been reading easy books for the sake of entertainment. I had The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion on my kindle and it seemed the right time to get to it.

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics at the university of Melbourne. He’s single, almost forty, never passed the first date stage and now wishes to get married. His friends Gene and Claudia tried to set him up with friends but to no avail.

He decides to set up a very detailed questionnaire to find the perfect wife. This is how he starts The Wife Project. When Gene sends Rosie to Don’s office as she has a question related to genetics, Don misunderstands her coming to him and thinks that Gene sent her after she applied to The Wife Project.

Don starts taking interest in Rosie’s search for her biological father. He gets invested in what becomes The Father Project. Rosie inserts herself into his life, and although he dismissed her as a valid candidate for The Wife Project, he slowly discovers that science cannot solve everything.

Don is the narrator and we understand from the start that he has an IQ higher than everyone, that he has trouble interacting with people, that he painfully lacks social skills. His life is organized by the minute on a white board and he aims at maximizing his time for everything. Scientific thinking is his only way of thinking. He’s rational and has trouble with spontaneity and non-analytical behaviours and responses.

Gene and Claudia tried for a while to assist me with the Wife Problem. Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences. I am thirty-nine years old, tall, fit and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor. Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing. However, there is something about me that women find unappealing. I have never found it easy to make friends, and it seems that the deficiencies that caused this problem have also affected my attempts at romantic relationships.

This is typical of Don’s voice.

At the beginning of the novel, he replaces his best friend Gene to be the speaker at a conference about Asperger’s syndrome. His reaction to the public and the few words he says about the content of the conference leads the reader into thinking that Don has Asperger’s syndrome. But it’s never said directly and that was clever of Simsion. He avoids further criticism about inaccurate psychiatric details and Don isn’t pigeonholed as someone with a disorder but just as someone odd. Rosie brings spontaneity into his life and breaks his routine, throwing him out of his comfort zone. Her presence disrupts his life and forces him to come out of his self-built shell.

The Rosie Project reminded me of Addition (2008) by another Australian writer, Toni Jordan. In Addition, Grace, the main character has OCD and a life with a lot of rules and habits, just like Don.

The Rosie Project is tagged as a “feel-good” novel. If the narrator and the writer were female, I bet it would be tagged as chick lit. I suppose that, like Addition, it a romcom with an unusual character, one who’s socially inapt but still loveable. Don’s deadpan tone is quite entertaining and he finds himself in situations that become comical. His vision of life is endearing as he tends to take everything at face value. Since he has trouble understanding non-verbal messages, he has difficulties in social settings. Lots of miscommunication happen. Rosie has her own issues and interacting with matter-of-fact Don isn’t easy for her either. He doesn’t know how to sugar-coat things, he always speaks his mind and he can be hurtful. Unintentionally.

The Rosie Project won several prizes and I suppose that in its category, it’s a good book. It’s easy to read and written in a good style. It’s a perfect distraction, an excellent Beach & Public Transport book. It’s also a novel that reminds us that it takes all sorts to make a world and that we shall accept people the way they are and not always try to change or improve them or make them enter into some socially accepted standards.

For another review, see Lisa’s here (She also mentions Addition) and Sue’s here.

  1. December 24, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I really enjoyed that book. I laughed a lot. Our family are happier in our gortex jackets rather than our glad rags too. 🙂

    Like

  2. December 24, 2018 at 8:49 am

    It’s certainly guy chick lit, and I enjoyed it for that reason. I think I had some criticisms st the time, maybe to do with Simsion relying on stereotypes, but they’re forgotten now. The sequel of you should ever get to it is a bit forced.

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    • December 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm

      It’s refreshing to have a male narrator for a change.

      I’m not sure I want to read the sequel, this one was entertaining because the character was new. I’m not sure I want a repeat.

      Like

  3. December 24, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for the mention Emma!
    Joyeux Noel!

    Like

    • December 24, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      You’re welcome.
      Joyeux Noël à toi aussi! (Je n’arrive toujours pas à imaginer ce que doit être Noël en été…)

      Like

  4. December 24, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the link Emma. I think I also discussed in terms of being a textual romcom. I’ve never heard of romcom applied to books, but this seemed to be that, particularly as it isn’t technically chicklit. BTW his third and apparently last book in the series had just come out.

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    • December 27, 2018 at 11:09 pm

      I think romcom fits, you can imagine the movie. (I think it’ll go out in 2019, btw)
      It’s definitely a feel-good novel, entertaining and fun.

      Like

      • December 27, 2018 at 11:30 pm

        It will be a good movie… Or it should be given Simsion is also a scriptwriter.

        Like

  5. December 24, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    This isn’t my usual sort of read but I had a similar experience to you when I read it – it’s a light, feel-good read and I liked the characters. I’ve not read the sequel and I don’t think I will – a lot of bloggers seemed to find it disappointing.

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    • December 27, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      I like this type of books from time to time, mostly when I want to read something easy.
      I’m not interested in the sequel, part of the charm of the book is getting acquainted with Don. Another book sounds “réchauffé”, as we say in French. (literary, “reheated”, like when you’re eating left-overs)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. January 3, 2019 at 6:31 pm

I love to hear your thoughts, thanks for commenting. Comments in French are welcome

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