Associate Genetics Professor Don Tillman is a single guy in Australia. He’s thirty-nine, he has only a few friends, and he’s looking for a solution to the Wife Problem. But there’s a lot in his way. Don isn’t just socially awkward. He’s chained to a disciplined system that preserves his comfort zone, but keeps him out of the real world of social interaction. All things point to Asperger’s Syndrome, but he’s never been officially diagnosed.
Sounds like a serious subject, but I laughed all the way through The Rosie Project, as Don prepares a detailed wife-finding questionnaire, designed to weed out the smokers, the chronically late and all vegetarians. His friend and colleague, the philandering Gene Barrow, steps in to help Don with the Wife Project. The first thing he does is introduce Don to Rosie, a wild card. True to the scientific method, Don immediately eliminates her as a candidate. After all, she’s a smoker, a vegetarian and she isn’t the least bit punctual.
As a sub-plot, we learn that Rosie has some serious father issues. Her mother died when she was a girl and she was raised alone by Carl, the only father she’s known. But Rosie thinks Carl may not be her real father, due to another relationship her mother had with a fellow medical student. Don’s a brilliant geneticist, so it’s only natural that he would be able to help Rosie find her biological father.
What follows is a very entertaining and funny romantic comedy as Don and Rosie get to know each other and collect DNA for paternity testing. Don bumbles through countless hilarious embarrassing social situations, all the while endearing himself to the very different Rosie.
The Rosie Project is a light story, built around a predictable structure, but these qualities give the story just the right amount of comfort to make it fun and entertaining. But don’t be fooled. Graeme Simsion has used this light approach to comment on a variety of serious subjects, including marriage and infidelity, autism, mental illness, family relationships, and women’s rights. He also pokes light fun at current social attitudes, a reminder to not take oneself too seriously.
For those who haven’t read The Rosie Project, I won’t give anything away. But I can’t finish without mentioning three hilarious scenes in which Don shines as the hero. One involves taking drink orders like a pro. In the next, he’s a dancing machine. And in the third, Don goes to extraordinary methods to fit in. But I won’t spoil it for you. Check out The Rosie Project and see what’s so funny!
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