Graeme Simsion is quite the man of the hour – you’ll have seen him in one or all of the books pages lately. People are excited. Winner of the Premier’s Literary Award for best unpublished fiction manuscript, Simsion’s novel The Rosie Project is a humorous, sharp, and fun story about how “you don’t find love: love finds you.”
The novel’s protagonist, Don Tillman, is a totally endearing cross between Mr Darcy and Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Though never directly stated in the book, Don is suggested to be a high-functioning autistic. He lives his life by strict rules, mapping out schedules and standardizing everyday events (meals, exercise, showering, etc) to minimize the chance of unexpected emotional challenges which cause his brain to “overload”. Don is socially awkward, caused mainly by his inability to think in any way but literally – however, his brute honesty, intelligence, and lack of personal insight (causing lots of those “a-ha” moments from readers watching over the protagonist’s shoulder), are exactly what makes Don such a loveable character.
Like the rest of his life, Don approaches the “problem” of finding a wife as scientifically as possible. He creates a questionnaire, ranks preferable answers, and tries to find the perfect woman based on her quiz results.
Enter Rosie Jarman. If this were a film, you might say that Rosie is the “Manic Pixie Dreamgirl” character. She’s unpredictable, emotional, and disorganized. She arrives late, she drinks too much, she doesn’t plan things in advance. She’s everything that Don is not looking for in a wife.
So after the first date, Don rules Rosie out as a potential partner, and keeps their relationship in a strictly platonic compartment in his head. While Rosie’s flightiness can unsettle Don, he knows that all this is separate from The Wife Project.
…or is it?
There’s a lot of nice tie-in stuff happening with The Rosie Project. You can chat to @ProfDonTillman on Twitter, or you can watch the book trailer and take a quiz to find out which character you’re most like on the Text website.
Simsion’s novel is a lot of fun, and is a great light read for curling up in the sun with. It reads much like a rom-com film, and indeed, the work did start life as a screenplay. While it’s not the kind of book I would have picked up without the hype, I am glad that I did.
The Rosie Project was a nice way to spend a few reading days.