Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

It’s been a while since I’ve written a book review–I must admit that I haven’t actually read a book for a good period of time, probably since last Fall. I guess reading wasn’t on my mind when I was fighting my depression.

Now that things are better, though, I decided I would re-join the book club I started attending last year, so I picked up where they were. For the April meeting, the book is The Rosie Project.

The Rosie Project cover

I guess I’m glad that I’m getting back into reading with a book like this one. I don’t think I could have handled something heavier or more difficult.

The Rosie Project is a love story between a geneticist, Don, looking for The Perfect Wife, and a psychology PhD student, Rosie, trying to find her biological father. Don is a highly logical, rational man with a perfectly regimented life and penchant for alcohol. Rosie is a rebellious feminist with a smoking habit and a preference for sustainable seafood. They are unsuitable for each other, and yet…

If you’re a friend on Goodreads (here’s my profile link if you’re not yet), you’ll notice that I gave this book only 3 stars. That’s not because it was a bad book or because I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, I read it in a weekend.

First, the really good things. My favourite element of the book was the narrative voice. The story is told from Don’s point of view, which means that you get in the head of a (possibly Asperger) scientist who must reflect rationally on everything. It’s interesting to see him analyze his feelings from a non-emotional point of view, and also to see how his relationship with Rosie both deepens his understanding of his own character and inserts irrational elements to his life. How he deals with the irrationality and his heightened emotional state is the most fascinating and interesting part of the book.

However, the novel carries the skeleton of its origin as a movie script–specifically, a romantic comedy. It touches on all the story points: a meeting over a misunderstanding, initial attraction followed by the knowledge that the two are incompatible, falling in love over a common project that forces them together anyway, idyllic getaway where something almost happens, first fight, adjustment, dark moment, reconciliation and finally, you guessed it, marriage. It was all rather conventional and easy to follow.

Not that it’s a bad thing, if you like to read things that are conventional. Romantic comedies provide a certain type of pleasure, when you’re looking for that kind of thing. I’m not a big watcher of romantic comedies; they are generally too similar and idyllic, and when you’ve seen one, you’ve basically seen them all.

Aside from the main character, who is a strange but strangely likeable nerd, The Rosie Project is not a subversive novel challenging the conventions of the romantic genre. But as a member of its species, it’s a pretty successful one. It’s lighthearted, funny and leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. It doesn’t make you roll your eyes in annoyance and actually makes you smile quite often. So, for that, I give it major props, as my only foray into romance novels mostly turned me off the genre.

If you’re in a mood for a quick, easy read in an airplane or on the beach, or if you enjoy romantic comedies, The Rosie Project will be a pleasurable experience for you. It doesn’t make you think too hard, makes you feel good about the possibility of finding love in the strangest corners and gives you a glimpse of how people with Aspergers or highly functional autism might process the world around them. It was definitely a fun read.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

  1. Since I usually read obscure authors weird authors such as Audrey Niffenegger. It was unusual for me to not only buy The Rosie Project. But I actually read about it before the book was released over here. I waited for it to come out on Amazon over here. At the time I sorely needed some laughter and Rosie and Don delivered in spades. I became curious about the author. I believe this is a thinly disguised autobiography. I found a Don Tillman PHd on twitter who was tweeting about the book. There is now a sequel being written. I loved the female character Rosie the most. But she would not work without her counterpart, Don. That is where the humor comes in. Here are a few of my tweets answered from Don Tillman. Glad you enjoyed the book. It is very light romantic comedy but enjoyable. I read to escape. Rarely read the classics.

    1. And you’re perfectly in your right to read whatever you want to read :) I didn’t mean to criticize people who don’t read “classics”–I’ve read lots of them in the past but don’t so much anymore. I personally prefer more challenging reads, but it was still a very good book, well crafted with a touching and funny narrator and a nice story of acceptance–of self and other.

      Thanks for stopping by and letting me know how you found the book :)

  2. Don Tillman PhD ‏@ProfDonTillman Nov 9
    @sparroweye66 my life as the ( fictional) protagonist of The Rosie Project
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    Don Tillman PhD ‏@ProfDonTillman Nov 8
    @sparroweye66 Sony have optioned movie rights for The Rosie Project – which from my perspective will be a documentary.

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