“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 looks like Gregory Peck – 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…”
I bought this book early last year after seeing Graham Simison being interviewed on BBC News. In hindsight, I now wished that I read it a lot earlier as ‘The Rosie Project’ is one of the funniest books that I’ve read for a long time.
The book centres around Don Tillman, a professor based in Melbourne, who is seeking his idea of a perfect wife through the use of a questionnaire known as ‘The Wife Project’.
Through reasons that become apparent during the story, he meets Rosie, a woman who fails several points of his questionnaire, most significantly his dislike of people smoking. Despite this, a bond (of sorts) forms between the pair, again for reasons that become apparent through the course of the book.
What ensues is a gentle romantic comedy that also looks at the bonds of family and how they inform how a person develops into adulthood, how society perceive people who are seen as ‘different’ from the norms of society and whether there is such a thing as a perfect relationship.
Now, I’m going to get the elephant out of the room straight away. As a fan of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, it’s easy to compare Don to Sheldon due to his lack of empathy and need to stick within the well planned boundaries of his life, especially as Don seeks a relationship based on his personal ideals. However, thanks to the first person narrative you get to see beyond the surface behaviours, which is attributed to Don being on the autism spectrum, and you get a man who has the same problems and doubts about romance and life in general that we all have.
Rosie is a fantastic foil for Don who challenges his well ordered world and opens him up to new experiences throughout the book. As with Don, there is more going on than what’s on the surface with a vulnerable person hidden under the layers of a strong, independent woman.
For me, this book poses an interesting question. Is a person’s idea of a ‘perfect’ partner the right partner to be with, or is it the quirks and foibles of what makes us who we are what a person loves unconditionally?
If you’re looking for a book which has an unconventional romantic slant to it, please give ‘The Rosie Project’ a try.
After reading this book, I’m certainly going to try the sequel, ‘The Rosie Effect’, as soon as I can get hold of a copy.
This review was originally published on Goodreads on 13 February 2015