For fans of The Big Bang Theory, Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project might be summed up simply as ‘Sheldon in love’. But that is a bit simplistic even for me so let’s do a full review.
Don Tillman is a professor of Genetics. Possibly living with undiagnosed Aspergers, he lives a very ordered life with a strict timetable, carefully planning and controlling any unavoidable social interactions. Approaching 40, he decides that it makes sense for him to find himself a wife. Unfortunately, his previously lack of success in traditional dating formats means that he’ll have to think outside the box. He devises The Wife Project – a rigorous questionnaire vetting process and an algorithm for the perfect woman.
His friend and colleague, Gene, insists on helping him. He sends in Rosie, a waitress who on first appearances fits none of The Wife Project criteria. A smoker, fussy eater, habitual latecomer, Don writes her off but is intrigued enough to help her with another project. The Father Project. Rosie is desperate to find out who her biological father is and Don, as a geneticist, is able to assist her and for some reason, feels compelled to.
This is not a stereotypical rom-com. Yes, it’s about a blossoming romance and yes, it’s funny but it’s also complex and messy. Told from the perspective of Don, it’s a fascinating look into the way that the mind of someone like him works. From this point of view his actions make perfect sense although baffling to those around him. Despite his difficulties which social interactions Don proves to be a quick learner and surprisingly adaptable. Rosie too is an extremely likeable character. At first we take her on face value – a waitress with a family issues and a chip on her shoulder. It quickly becomes apparent to the reader, and to Don, that there is more to Rosie than her stand-offish attitude. She is highly intelligent, inquisitive and compassionate. It’s rare that the love interest is such a well-rounded character in a rom-com but Simsion achieves this with Rosie. This is The Rosie Project’s greatest strength.
The Rosie Project offers something unique. A ‘chick-lit’ novel written by a man that is funny, touching and intelligent. All of the characters (even the more minor ones such as Don’s friends Gene and Claudia) are well-developed and add to the story. The book is well paced and although it doesn’t hold too many surprises the plot is engaging enough to carry you through to a satisfying conclusion.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for some light reading that isn’t too ‘fluffy’. I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads.