Finding true love with help of a questionnaire.
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.
Title: The Rosie Project
Series: Don Tillman #1
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publication: January 30, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Target audience: Adult
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Don Tillman is almost 40 years old when he decides that it is time to find someone to spend his life with. Thus, he starts the “Wife Project” and creates a questionnaire that is supposed to simplify normal dating procedures. Instead of wasting his time on a date – only to find out at the end that the woman is a drinker, smoker or vegetarian – the questionnaire eliminates unsuitable women beforehand and will hopefully bring forth the perfect wife.
When attractive Rosie Jarman – smoker, drinker, vegetarian, never on time, no wife material – appears in need of Don’s help, the Wife Project fades into the background. Together, they search for Rosie’s biological father and meanwhile manage to fall in love with each other.
This is not the kind of book I usually read but I thought “Hey, why not give it a try?”. It appears that, while there is no reason not to give a book a chance, that book has no obligation to be to your liking.
Well, good to know.
The story is told by Don’s point of view and this is where I see the first problem. The reader quickly notices that Don is not “normal”. He sees the world different than we do. That is because he is on the autism spectrum, a fact that he is not aware of himself. That in itself is of course not an issue, but I found the way the book is written very difficult to read. It was weird and at times robotic and I just couldn’t get used to it (I know that one of the reasons for that is Don’s autism, but that doesn’t change the fact that the writing wasn’t enjoyable). Occasional changes of POV or maybe a third person narrator would have greatly improved the reading experience for me.
Throughout the book, Don finds himself in social situations that he has no idea how to act in. His weird behaviour is supposed to make us laugh but I never did. Either it is because socially incompetent people feel very uncomfortable in these situations and that is nothing to laugh about, or because it just wasn’t funny. At least, not for me. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how funny this book is, but I suppose tastes differ.
I wish I could say I cared for the romance, but I really didn’t. I liked Don just fine, he is an adorable guy, but I didn’t like Rosie and didn’t understand how Don could fall in love with her. But then again, Don himself realises that love is not always what looks good on paper, so who am I to judge. Still, a romance book should make me cheer for the couple, which I didn’t, which in turn made me feel like Don watching rom-coms. Absolutely emotionless. Well, ok, that’s not completely accurate. Don felt suspense, curiosity and amusement. I didn’t.
Also, something that really bothered me is that Don changes everything about himself to appeal to Rosie. Like no, not cool. Don, darling, you are perfect the way you are.
All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this to people new to romance – as it is possible this could scare you away like it did with me – but I know tastes can be very different and I know people who had no problem with this book.