Wednesday, September 24, 2014
"The Rosie Project": Rom Com At Its Finest
I needed a fun book. When my daughter's 4th grade teacher mentioned that her favorite book of the summer was "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion because it was "great fun," I made a mental note. I can't read every book that people suggest, but I am always looking to expand my reading horizons. In the case of Australian author Graeme Simsion's highly publicized debut novel, I am so glad I listened to my daughter's teacher. It was, as she touted, great fun.
The novel revolves around Don Tillman, a socially inept genetics professor who decides after living alone for too long, that it is time to find a wife. He launches a full scale "Wife Project" which includes a detailed 16 page survey to locate a potential mate. Don designs the survey questions to weed out smokers, drinkers and pretty much anyone who has any type of human characteristic that is unsuitable to him. In the midst of his Wife Project, Don meets Rosie, a smoking, vegetarian with bright red hair who is anything but conventional. She cusses openly, is free with her emotions and makes no excuses for her actions. Although Don immediately deems her an unsuitable wife, he becomes intrigued with her search for her biological father, and begins an unethical genetics project ("The Father Project") to help Rosie find her father. While searching for Rosie's father, Don begins to break out of his daily routines and begins to feel rather than think his way through life. Inevitably (as the title points out) his focus becomes "The Rosie Project" or how to get this woman to fall in love with him. He doubts the logic of falling in love with Rosie "I want to spend my life with you even though it’s totally irrational. And you have short earlobes. Socially and genetically there’s no reason for me to be attracted to you. The only logical conclusion is that I must be in love with you." As Don realizes (and everyone else who has ever been in love has realized), logic and love do not coincide.
Throughout the book, I could picture the movie that this will soon become (since Sony Pictures bought the movie rights) and could see myself on a Saturday evening watching it - laughing and crying, enjoying the romantic comedy that holds up a mirror to the follies of love and the inconsistencies of life. That's what Simsion does brilliantly in this novel. By choosing a male love interest who has Asperger's Syndrome (but somehow doesn't know it) and can't connect to people emotionally, he is able to show how incredibly illogical dating and love are, but we are also privy to seeing the downsides of a life full of only logical thinking. Life and happiness meet somewhere in the middle.
This book, though, is not one that anyone will need to dwell on or think about too much. It is pure fun even with Don's smarmy best friend, Gene's ethical fidelity issues thrown into the mix. The lightheartedness outweighs any of the gloom in Don's lonely life or Rosie's messed up childhood, or Gene and Claudia's marriage arrangement that makes sense to no one except Gene. If you haven't read a fun book lately, pick up "The Rosie Project" and prepare to be charmed.