The Rosie Project is a fresh, light and modern tale written by Graeme Simsion and told through the eyes of Associate-Professor Don Tillman. Don is a highly intelligent academic who views the world through a different lens than most, impervious to emotional and social subtleties and existing within a self-imposed regime of discipline and order. Seemingly unable to find love, he sets himself the quest of identifying a wife through the screening tool of a questionnaire, designed to maximise efficiency and avoid seemingly unnecessary painful situations. However, as chaos is the chemistry of life and love, he soon learns that love will not flourish within the confines of predictability and the reader is quickly drawn into Don’s spiraling journey towards unavoidable emotional turmoil and vulnerability.
As Don introduces us to the world and the people within it as he sees them, the reader is able to fill in the blanks, identifying emotions in fellow characters and in Don that he himself is blind to. Don contrasts delightfully against characters such as Gene, his promiscuous mentor and friend, and of course the rebellious Rosie who scatters Don’s senses and regime giving the reader great satisfaction in the process. Don’s perspective inadvertently exposes some of the ludicrous social restrictions and rituals that are generally accepted as the norm and the reader shares in his painful vulnerability. As he takes tentative steps towards an unknown world you can’t help but feel protective as he is buffeted against emotional and social situations that he is unfamiliar with and unprepared for.
Some aspects are hard to believe, particularly as the story progresses and the lengths Rosie and Don embark on become more extreme. Rosie too can sometimes feel under-rounded; her strong individual and feministic personality undermined by her rather flimsy reasoning for dissatisfaction with the man that raised her. The ending is also slightly saccharine, the only telling sign that the author originally intended the book to be a screenplay. You can almost imagine all the characters coming together on screen for a glorious penultimate scene.
However, these aspects are easily forgiven and lost in a highly enjoyable read. The moments told through Don’s dry perspective are truly hilarious and you will find yourself laughing out loud on many occasions. The two main hooks of the story, Don’s tumultuous path towards an alien emotion and the hunt for Rosie’s father, pull you through the narrative at lightening speed and you will find yourself devouring, and relishing, the book in just a few sittings.
(c) Kate Vickers
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