Book review: The Rosie Project

The worldwide release of The Rosie Project caught my eye a long time before I saw it advertised on posters at tube stations. The title on its own conjured an English-country garden image of spring flowers in muted purples and yellows, so the bright, abstract cover in red, white, black and green caught my eye when I did see it (I saw the one by Penguin used in this post, but the international selection is worth viewing in its own right).

Intrigued, I downloaded a sample to my Kindle (which I am the first to admit does little for a cover, intriguing or otherwise). I started reading The Rosie Project on the District Line on my way home, smiling and chuckling to myself from the opening lines. I glanced up periodically at stations and noticed people were looking at me. I raced through the sample in just a fraction of my commute and the rest of the book lasted little longer once I had downloaded it.

I thought it might have been my academic background that allowed me to be so quickly grabbed by the unusual humour of this book and its central character, a university professor in genetics. The wide acclaim the novel has received, however, suggests that this is really testimony to the strength of the book’s characters and dialogue.

The Rosie Project follows Prof. Don Tillman (who, as part of a novel *ahem* marketing strategy, has his own Twitter account @ProfDonTillman) and his search for a suitable mate. I use mate to indicate his scientific approach to this process, but Don’s ‘Wife Project’ ultimately questions whether science can account for compatibility and attraction at all.

Along the way, Don and his co-characters confront the true nature of their own personalities and the fallacy of what might be considered ‘normal’ behaviour, with many entertaining transgressions of the norm along the way. Perhaps the book also leads by example, in this case allowing me to cross the bounds of acceptable behaviour on the tube by expressing my enjoyment of the book, despite the frowns of other commuters.

According to its author, Graeme Simsion (@GraemeSimsion), the film rights for The Rosie Project have been sold and a book sequel is well under way with Australian publisher Text Publishing (@text_publishing). I’m already looking forward to both, and to breaking some more norms in the meantime.

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