Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Once in a while, you sit down with a book, read it to about 50 pages or so and you get this really warm fuzzy feeling that doesn’t go away until you’ve finished the book. Obviously, not with The Shining or Fifty Shades of Grey, but with books like these. The Rosie Project.

My first impression was a pretty bad one. I read the first 5 pages or so and went: “I probably won’t be able to finish this”. And this was simply because the writing was so… almost aggressively pretentious. I don’t think I saw a sentence that didn’t have a word under 3 syllables once. In the whole book. Here:

Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and the negative experiences.

So, basically, in normal people words, he’s saying that he doesn’t date anymore. This really bugged me for a while until I got to page 7, at which point, I actually put in a fluoro orange tab saying: (and I quote this from myself) “OMG is the writing meant to reflect the personality of Don?!”. So, in a sentence, yes. I thought that the pretentiousness was just the writing style of the author, but I now know that the pretentiousness is a reflection of Don’s personality. Basically, Don’s personality is literally borderline Aspergic. He likes to shut out his emotions (he still feels them, he just ignore them), he finds it difficult to analyse facial expressions and he is extremely organised and follows a strict routine. Seriously, every day of the week he has a meal that he only prepares for that day. Tuesday, for example is lobster. He follows his timetable to the minute, and gets pretty anxious when he’s thrown off by an added activity or so. Socially inept, he is about as subtle as a concrete wrecking ball the size of an elephant. He says it as it is and takes no social cues at all:

‘Is Gene all right?’, she asked.

‘He’s fine, thank you,’ I said.

‘Oh. I thought he was ill.’

‘Gene is in excellent health except for being six kilograms overweight. We went for a run this morning. He has a date tonight, and he wouldn’t be able to go out if he was ill.’

Julie seemed unimpressed and, in reviewing the interaction later, I realised that Gene must have lied to her about his reason for not being present. This was presumably to protect Julie from feeling that her lecture was unimportant to Gene and to provide justification for a less prestigious speaker sent as a substitute. It hardly seems possible to analyse such a complex situation involving deceit and supposition of another person’s emotional response, and the prepare you own plausible lie, all while someone is waiting for you to reply to a question. Yet that is exactly what people expect you to be able to do.

Just some context, so the quote above makes sense. Gene is a master psychologist or something, and he’s meant to be doing a talk on Aspergers (see the irony??), except he has a date, so he passes it onto his good friend, Don, who has a major or something in genetic science. And so, obviously, he can’t tell his boss that he has a date and so can’t come to this lecture, so he tells her he’s sick. And BAM Don comes in and ruins it all with the tact of a flying brick. *cringe*

So, there’s a lot of cringing in this book. Especially when he acts like a robot and DOESN’T EVEN REALISE HE’S IN LOVE WITH ROSIE. UGH. DUDE. YOU’RE IN LOVE. DON’T SAY THAT THE ONLY REASON YOU WANT TO “INTERACT” WITH ROSIE IS BECAUSE YOU WANT TO HELP HER FIND HER FATHER (more on that later):

‘The quantity is sufficient for two,’ I said. ‘The recipe can’t be scaled down. It’s infeasible to purchase a fraction of a live lobster.’ I had intended the last part as a mild joke, and Rosie reacted by laughing. I had another unexpected moment of feeling good.


But enter Rosie. Rosie is the opposite of Don. She’s wild and uncoordinated. She lives life on a whim and *gasp*, she does the unthinkable. She smokes.

And yet, maybe that is what Don needs in his life. A little uncoordinated fun. And so as the book progresses, Don learns to loosen up a little. And along the way, he learns a great deal of valuable knowledge as well.

About genetics, computers, aikido, karate, sexual positions, social protocols and the probability of a fifty-six-game hitting streak occurring in the history of baseball.

Oh and don’t forget the extra knowledge of cocktails and dancing. That’s important.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 10/10

The Rosie Project is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.

The Info:

  • Title: The Rosie Project
  • Author: Graeme Simsion
  • Paperback: 295 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476729093
  • URL: Amazon, Goodreads, Author Website

7 thoughts on “Review: The Rosie Project

  1. aentee @ read at midnight

    I have to read this book now that it’s slated for Hollywoodom. I have read a lot of people comparing it to The Big Bang Theory as well, which is a show I adore 😀 Great review!


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