The Rosie Project

(2013)

"The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion is best described as delightful, funny, and quirky.  The central character, Don Tillman, has a reputation for being a rigid, highly scheduled, socially inept, and brilliant genetics professor at an Austrailian university.  Tillman is single, 39 years old, and due to his social limitations, sees himself with no prospects for love.  He moves to solve this dilemma through the development of an idea he dubs The Wife Project.  The Wife Project involves a 16 page, double sided questionnaire designed to screen dating candidates for compatibility as a suitable partner.  Don's expectations are at best unreasonable.  Though he enlists the help of friends Gene and Gene's wife Claudia, the quest to find a qualifying woman does not go well.  Results from the questionnaires actually prove to be more helpful for Gene.

The lonely Professor's image of the perfect woman is turned upside down when he meets Rosie.  Rosie walks into his life with endless contradictions to conflict with Don's idea of a life partner.  And though he finds her faults difficult to accept, he has an immediate attraction to the friendly, loud, and uninhibited woman.  They develop a friendship, and Rosie challenges the Professor's loyalty to nonconformity by introducing him to a sensory world reaching far beyond his structured environment.    

Rosie is interested in finding her biological father.  Because the quest to find Rosie's father involves the testing of DNA, Professor Tillman volunteers his expertise in genetics to help the psychology student who also moonlights as a barmaid.  This leads to the birth of the Father Project, and some of the story's most hilarious moments involve the attempts to capture and test DNA samples.  In one scenario, the duo work as bartenders and undertake a mass DNA collection at a medical student class reunion where they believe Rosie's Father is one of the attendees.                 

The author writes with a wry humor about elements of life ordinarily regarded as serious and complicated.  The occasional use of salty language may seem unnecessary to the storytelling, yet does not distract from the telling of a wonderful story. The Wife Project questions whether compatibility is a necessary ingredient for romantic love.  The Father Project asks how knowing the identity of a biological father relates to happiness.  "The Rosie Project" is a "can't put it down" book destined to keep the most discriminating reader up at night; well past a time the sun has gone down and the stars have come out.  In fact, Graeme Simsion has written a story worthy of a bright, gold star.         

 

    

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