The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – Review

Don Tillman, a professor of genetics is on the hunt for a wife. In Don’s mind, she exists in an idealised perfection. She will be the one who will tick every box of in the list of criteria that he has set. She will live up to his every expectation – never a smoker or drinker and always punctual. No doubt, she will also hold on to the very same values he thinks essential in order to achieve fulfilling life. She will not only be desirable, but she will be wife material. Along with a carefully-devised, evidence-based questionnaire for all applicants interested in pursuing the desired position of being Don’s wife, The Wife Project begins.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion has worked its way into our hearts…

In The Rosie Project, we follow Don Tillman’s hilarious journey into the wild world of wife-finding. For someone who has never progressed beyond the first date, Don tries to venture into the harder part of getting married, which entails a whirlwind of socially challenging tasks. This proves to be difficult for Don. For as long as he has known, he has possessed the inability to process social cues and emotions. But with the help of his sex-addict best friend, Don embarks on this journey by being meticulously prepped with facts about common social rituals and rational knowledge of human emotions. It is inevitable that he discovers that finding a lifelong partner is forcing him out of the world he knows in black and white.

Throughout my life I have been criticised for a perceived lack of emotion, as if this were some absolute fault.

Graeme Simsion crafted The Rosie Project in all its light-hearted, comical brilliance from a man’s point of view. Personally, it is the first kind that I have picked up and it is definitely a fresh turnover from typical boy-meets-girl novels. Simsion conveys so intelligibly the nature of relationships where contradictory perspectives rule over emotions and logic. The scarcity of Don’s knowledge beyond facts and evidence commands the flow of the story, which ultimately becomes less of a drama and more of a comedy. 

Don Tillman clearly defines the type of man who tries to control his pursuit of love, but to no avail. Through Don’s perspective, we are introduced to the stages that normally lead up to a relationship such as confrontations, rejections and the more recently established concept of DTR (defining the relationship). We meet the people Don meets and size them up quickly with the three things most noticeable to Don – age, BMI estimations and aesthetic generalisations. We also begin to feel what Don feels, that there is chaos in his self-defined logic. From there, we start to understand the position that Don has cursed himself into, with a previously-established personal evaluation:

Then I presented her with the facts – the history of my attempts to find a partner, beginning with my assumption as a child that I would grow up and get married and finishing my abandonment of the idea as the evidence grew that I was unsuitable.

But what will happen eventually, is that we will find ourselves rooting for Don in hopes that he finds the love that he needs, more than the love that he thinks he wants. He becomes oddly charming in his awkwardness. 

The various covers of Graeme Simsion’s novel ‘The Rosie Project’. Which one’s your favourite?

So what is The Rosie Project then? The Rosie Project is Don Tillman’s project but as far as he’s concerned, it’s non-existent. Not even when this unsuspectingly sassy, intelligent and reckless female named Rosie steps foot into his life. Much to Don’s bewilderment, this lady, who is all he is not, has her agenda bulldozed into his carefully choreographed day-to-day routines. As The Wife Project takes the backseat, Rosie begins to show Don the world beyond the human mind’s mechanical logic and forces him out of the narrow-minded perspective he had been living with for 39 years. Things began to shift for the man who goes by a Standardised Meal System and life-in-waiting begins to take form for himself and the people around him.

More than anything, this book will remind you that the pursuit of love can never grow old. The insight Don’s monologues provide will take you step-by-step into the much over-thought rules of friendships and relationships. In a world where aesthetics have become the priority to first impressions, The Rosie Project also reminds us that we often size people up too soon and we sometimes attempt to contain them in baseless generalisations before getting to know them. Like Don, we judge people according to our personal set of values that don’t necessarily apply to every other individual. No doubt, the book paints a beautiful picture of unique identities and the significance of individualization. At the end of it, you’ll be reminded that even the most socially awkward person on earth can be an incredible individual.

The Rosie Project is for anyone who is looking for a charming romantic-comedy book to indulge in. It is a thoroughly entertaining book that you won’t regret picking up. Graeme Simsion’s story lives up to the prestigious award of Australian Book Of The Year 2014. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the story ride, now it’s your turn to embark on The Rosie Project.

Natalie Ong Lih Tyng

Tyng is currently completing an undergraduate in Media Studies (majoring in Journalism and Communications) at the University of New South Wales. When she's not scrolling the news or arranging interviews, she writes for various online magazines. As she explores the enjoyment of writing, she is fascinated at the way words are able to influence human emotions. In the long run, she hopes to be able to use writing as a medium to inspire, encourage and give voice to those who are less fortunate.

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