Feature image from Penguin Books UK
The Rosie Project is a 2013 novel by Australian author, Graeme Simsion. I had seen this novel in the corner of my eye every time I walked into Whitcoulls. It has been on their Top 100 list for ages.
Still, I never picked it up. Why? Because a cursory glance over the back cover told me it was a romance. A pretty standard romance by the look of it. I can count the number of Romances that are on my favourites list on one hand. In fact, here they are – Cross Stitich (I think it’s called Outlander in the US); PS, I love you; Pride and Prejudice; The Time Traveller’s Wife; Gone with the Wind. That’s it. I’m clearly not a huge romance fan, and I thought this book would be more of the same.
Boy was I wrong – THIS BOOK IS FANTASTIC!! Slap me with the stupid stick for letting my prejudices against romance novels get in the way of a good read!
What’s it about?
The main character, Prof. Don Tillman, who almost certainly has Asperger’s, wants a wife. He is brilliant, single, employed, and in peak physical health – which should make him a catch in the dating market. Unfortunately, his inability to understand social cues, his devotion to his rigid schedule, and his difficulty with enacting social niceties have produced only failure with the few dates he has attempted.
Don thinks he can fix the issues by creating a questionnaire to screen women as potential wives. In the midst of this, in walks Rosie. Rosie is everything Don doesn’t want in a wife – she smokes, drinks, and is habitually late. But Don decides to help Rosie with her own project – to find her biological father.
What’s it like?
Don should be thoroughly unlikeable. He isn’t. His awkward quirks and rigid lifestyle are somehow charming even when he’s being a bit of a knob. If anyone is going to get on your tits it’s Rosie – and yet Rosie is also quite likeable when she isn’t being all “Daddy didn’t love me.”
I loved loved loved this book. The deeply flawed characters, the pace, the quirks that elevated this away from the usual romance tropes, and the laugh out loud moments – all made for a deeply satisfying read.
Sure, the outcome is predictable. But the story that leads you to the ending is just fantastic, and there are enough twists in the plot to keep you guessing.
I would recommend this to anyone. Watch out if you don’t like bad language – it is an Australian novel after all.