24 February 2014

Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

"Meet Don Tillman.

Don is getting married.

He just doesn't know who to yet.

But he has designed a very detailed questionnaire to help him find the perfect woman.

One thing he already knows, though, is that it's not Rosie.

Absolutely, completely, definitely not.

Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor who's decided the time has come to find a wife. His questionnaire is intended to weed out anyone who's unsuitable. The trouble is, Don has rather high standards and doesn't really do flexible so, despite lots of takers, he's not having much success in identifying The One.

When Rosie Jarman comes to his office, Don assumes it's to apply for the Wife Project - and duly discounts her on the grounds she smokes, drinks, doesn't eat meat, and is incapable of punctuality. However, Rosie has no interest in becoming Mrs Tillman and is actually there to enlist Don's assistance in a professional capacity: to help her find her biological father.

Sometimes, though, you don't find love: love finds you..."

Rating: 5/5

You can buy The Rosie Project as a paperback or an eBook now.

I don't usually stray from my favourite genre of chick lit, but occasionally there is a book that piques my interest and I decide that I have to try and fit it in somewhere in my busy reading schedule! The latest book that I wanted to read was a debut novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion. His novel The Rosie Project has received rave reviews across reviews blogs, and it really sounded like something that would make an interesting read. I don't know a huge deal about the main subject of Aspergers, but I hoped that I would find the story just as brilliant as everyone else who has read and loved it so far.

Dr Don Tillman is a genetics professor, a clever man but clearly is on the Aspergers spectrum. Don loves his life being in order - so much so that he has set times of day for doing activities, how long they last and he really doesn't like it when things get in the way of it. When Don realises he might quite like to settle down with a woman, he sets about creating a very detailed questionnaire, so he doesn't waste unnecessary time with women that aren't wife material for him. When his friend puts him in touch with Rosie, he assumes it is because she's applying for the wife project. The pair strike up an unlikely friendship, especially when Rosie makes it clear she's not at all romantically interested in Don - instead she wants his help in tracing her biological father. Don decides to help her but is unsure about how to handle the new feelings he has for Rosie...

Don is the perfect narrator for this book, and he is exactly what makes it work. I loved his narration, written in the first person, it allows us to see right into Don's mind and it's funny without necessarily meaning to be so, yet Simsion doesn't make a laughing stock of Tillman - it's just how he is and the people around him learn to adapt to his abruptness, his frankness and obsession with sticking to his timetable. I really warmed to Don from the beginning. His honesty leads to more than a few cringeworthy moments in the book, but Don really has no idea of the emotions he causes in others with the things that he says. I sat there thinking 'surely he didn't just say that' but of course he did, and that's what makes this such a brilliant read. Yes, some of the things he comes out with are a bit bizarre and strange, but again, it's just part of what makes Don, Don.

His relationship with others in the book is very interesting. He has a best friend, Gene, a lecturer in Psychology at the University where he works, and he seems to fit in with Don's schedule quite well, and his wife is very understanding of Don too. He sees them as his friends, and given he thinks he only has a few that's a precious status for them to hold. When Rosie comes into his life, he immediately strikes her off as a potential wife candidate - she smokes, she drinks a lot, and she's a vegetarian amongst other things, but there is something about Rosie that Don quite likes. Yes, he wants to help her find her biological father but I always got the impression there was something bubbling below the surface between these two. Yes, it's obvious Don likes her but has no idea how to handle the idea of asking a woman out on a date or on how to progress things so there's some quite funny musings of Don's along the way.

I loved this book from start to finish, and really loved the narrative of Don - it just works, and it's his issues that make it all the more readable. There's nothing shocking or any major plot twists or developments in this book - it actually doesn't need them at all. Instead, it's reading about Don trying to explore a new world to him that is so compulsive, working out how to be around people without saying the wrong thing, or learning that going over schedule by 10 minutes isn't the end of the world, as he fears at the beginning of his story. Yes, for me I could see the end coming, and I had hoped that it would be as it was, it seemed the right ending somehow. But I loved reading about Don Tillman. There's some interesting genetics facts thrown in along the way courtesy of Don, but aside from that it's a book about Asperger's and about human relationships. It certainly enlightened me, showed a view of the world that I knew nothing about before picking up The Rosie Project, yet had me smiling and laughing along, hoping for a love story from these two people, very different yet oddly similar to each other. The writing is brilliant, the story one you will want to keep reading until you reach the last page - for me, The Rosie Project was a joy to read, and a gem of a book. Highly, highly recommended.


  1. I also really liked this, it's funny and cute :-)

  2. I just downloaded this one! I usually don't stray from chick lit much either but I've heard so much about it. Glad you liked it :)