Friday, March 8, 2013

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I love this book. It borders on chic lit and I was worried that I'd be teased for going a bit gooey. I got the same feeling when I read Bridget Jones or watched "Love Actually". But some how this is so much better than this. The main character is beautiful, he's a real geek, an aspersers syndrome science geek. He is no Mr D'arcy. Now Don Tillman is a professor of genetics who realises that he's different to everyone else, but sees it as the rest of the world acting illogically rather than the problem lying with him. It seems relationships are a mystery so he decides to approach the issue of finding a wife in as scientific a manner as possible, by means of a detailed questionnaire to weed out the kind of women he doesn't want. He's very pedantic and driven, but he's not as obnoxious as say, Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory. He has his laugh out loud moments spurred on by his purity - moments like blurting out in a lecture "We'll now hear from the large overweight woman in the back row." Yes, subtly is someone else's game. Yet at the end the need to be part of our universe, the one of regular humans drives him to develop a survey, much like a science project, to weed out the women he doesn't want and get to the essence of his desire: the perfect breeding machine for Don (cue silhouette of a woman in a bright neon halo!). Then along comes our protagonist, Rosie who naturally, ticks all the wrong boxes, but is somehow strangely attractive and for her own reasons just won’t go away.

I wondered if I was the right audience for this - so I went surfing to test my masculinity on this subject - One reader gushed : "I enjoyed this book so much that I read it in a couple of big gulps (would have been one big gulp, but sometimes work just gets in the way) and then was sorry that it was over so quickly. A couple of weeks after finishing it I’m still thinking about it from time to time and wondering what might be happening to the characters, which is always a sign of a wonderful book. I’d love to read more about Don and Rosie and would definitely buy a copy of any sequel." Another admitted: "There is no doubt "The Rosie Project" is going to be one of the best feel-good novels of 2013..with it's humour and quirky characters, it's going to find a place in your heart..."

High praise, ladies. Don is a wonderfully drawn character who, despite giving a lecture on Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t see that he fits under his own subject heading. In fact he really sees himself as being entirely logical (think Spock - logical) or as someone who approaches the world in the ideal way. But when he comes up against others who are very different to himself the results range from touching to hilarious (the-disturb-the-lady-next-to-you-on-the-train-laugh- out-loud-variety) . There were moments I should have cringed when Don’s misunderstanding of social expectations and inability to see more than the strict meaning of words puts him in the full path of oncoming embarrassment and social clangery. I felt no sympathy for him. Should I? Perhaps I'm really just evil underneath. Damn you, Graeme Simsion for exposing this flaw in my personality!

The interactivities between Don and Rosie is well done. All characters seem to seamlessly influence each other, for good or bad - a real group and not just a collection of unconnected individuals as so often happens in fiction.

As I said earlier Don is not Darcy, or Sheldon. He's real enough that I might actually know him - another person with individual quirks. And unlike every third novel or tv show these days he doesn’t see him as wrong or broken. Let's not forget that Sheldon is portrayed one-dimensionally. Don is always real and always true to his own rules and view of the world. He also learns and grows as person during the course of the book (but don’t want to give away the plot so won’t say any more on that topic).

The book gently points out that we’re all broken to some extent or other, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find love or friendship. Mmmmm. That all sounds a bit heavy and serious. Down to it though, The Rosie Project is all that but also a light book about big and deep issues. It'll make you laugh and make you learn about yourself as well as about others.

Should blokes read it? Well, yes actually. Like I said before this is not chic lit. It's published in Australia but written by a Kiwi (ok, he lives there). It's about a bloke who's a bit quirky - but hey aren't we all in that way. Most books our wives and girlfriends pass over are about getting guys to understand women. This one is about guys understanding guys in the context of them selves AND women. So yeah, go ahead blocks, crack and tinnie and turn

No comments:

Post a Comment