The Rosie Project
Simon & Schuster | 320 pages | ISBN 9781476729091 | June 2014 – See more
There are two common responses when one announces that one is a librarian (or teacher-librarian).
- “How lovely to have a job where you can read all day!” (Ummm, not likely!)
- “So you get to read all the new/best sellers first?” (Flashback to 2004 and managing a popular public library in Sydney when Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was repeatedly topping every best seller list in the world. We had at least a dozen copies and a reservation list so long we bought another twenty copies. I ended up reading it about two years later after borrowing it from a friend’s bookshelf!)
So typically I am possibly one of the last people in the known universe to read The Rosie Project after hearing so much high praise about it and the phenomenal reaction from all readers. I can only say it was worth the wait!
On Tuesday afternoon, I had my annual appointment with my accountant to do my tax return. My calculations, based on leaving the library at 3.20 pm, meant that I would arrive exactly three minutes before my designated time slot at 4.00 pm. Recalling my 2013 experience of having to wait fifteen minutes due to my very gregarious accountant continuing to talk to his previous client (I strongly suspect he has an ADHD type disorder but would need to conduct more conclusive research to verify this), I needed something to read in case I was once again forced to endure his extremely non-ergonomic waiting area couch. I picked up The Rosie Project from one of our display stands, it having just been returned that day. I arrived at Terry’s office at precisely 3.58 and to my great surprise he was ready for our appointment. We spent exactly 46 seconds discussing my tax return, and the other 44 minutes 14 seconds animatedly talking about books, depression, Mental Health Week, his (my previous) Rotary Club, his wife (also a teacher), his recent trip to Bathurst and whether anti-depressants could be counted as a tax deduction. After my arrival at my home at 5.00 pm and sundry household chores according to my regular schedule, dinner and watching my usual episode of crime fiction featuring my favourite book character, a singularly well-organised and precise Belgian, I went to bed intending to read until my scheduled 10 pm curfew. After 13 chapters of complete and utter engrossment, I forced myself to adhere to the scheduled sleeping requirement albeit reluctantly (mentally wondering if I could fake insomnia).
Last night, Wednesday, I completed my usual after school routine of driving across town to my mother’s nursing home, where I spent an hour in bemusement at other residents (high-care dementia unit) and helping Mum with her dinner, followed by the one hour drive home to arrive at 6.21 pm (a variation on the usual 6.25 pm, that allowed me an extra four minutes of poodle-cuddle time as the traffic had been noticeably without drama). At 8.31, the poodle and I retired, my sole intention to finish the book. At the appointed ‘lights out’ time of 10.00 pm I still had a few chapters to finish. I recalculated my sleeping time, and adjusted my alarm to wake a half an hour later, judging that I could cut minutes from shower/dressing/make up/breakfast time to compensate.
Finished the book, laughed, sighed and went to sleep with complete satisfaction.
For those who have read the book, you will possibly be able to contextualise the previous two paragraphs. For those who have not yet read the book, let me elucidate and introduce you to Don Tillman.
Don is a highly regarded, extremely intelligent, well paid, good looking and physically fit Associate Professor in genetic research. He can count his friends on one hand and has never had a relationship with a woman. In fact, any attempts have never gone beyond one date. Because Don is ‘different’.
Simsion’s artful description of Don filling in for his Lothario colleague, Gene, to deliver a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome to parents and affected students at a local school, all the while completely oblivious that he is, in fact, the epitome of all the recognised adaptive behaviours is priceless.
Don wants to have a wife and recognising his shortfall in social success in interactions with the opposite sex, creates The Wife Project – a highly scientific process to filter out unsuitable candidates and provide the exact match. His friend, Gene, is meant to be assisting him in his search but is really using the applications to further his own quest to conquer the world in a geographically sexual sense. In a moment of mischief, Gene, engineers a meeting between Don and Rosie, who is the complete antithesis of Don’s ‘ideal wife’.
The ensuing romantic romp is chaotic, charming and utterly engaging. Don Tillman is one of the most likeable, endearing characters I have ‘read’ in recent times – in fact, I think I may be a little in love with him myself!
Graeme Simsion wrote the manuscript with the intention of it becoming a movie after publication. I didn’t know that during my reading of it but thought it is exactly the kind of humorous, insightful, complicated and ultimately satisfying love story that translates perfectly to the screen and the rom-com genre.
I’m with Rosie on this score. I am sure that when I finally get to see The Rosie Project realised as a film, I will no doubt need the box of tissues next to me.
One of my most enjoyable reads of this year – don’t just put it on your list, put it on your shelf!