Book Reviews Books for Adults

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Usually, when I write about a book here, it’s because I really loved it and want to share it.

Occasionally, I write about a book so bad I just need to spew my feelings about it all over the screen.

And every once in a while, I read a book that I have such confused emotions about that I need to see what you all think.

The Rosie Project falls into the last category.

I first heard of it when Modern Mrs Darcy included it on her summer reading guide. She mentioned the Kindle version was only $2 and so, in a rare fit of spendiness, I bought it (it might actually be the first Kindle book I’ve ever purchased. I’m definitely Amazon’s target demographic right here. Libraries forever).

And then, of course, it sat around on my Kindle unread for some three months. Finally, on the airplane last week, I started reading it. After about 30 pages, I thought “Hmm, I’m not sure about this one.”

But then, in the car, when I could no longer stand staring at the back of the driver’s seat any longer, I braved some wicked motion sickness and read for about three hours. That night, when we got to the hotel, I finished up by flashlight after the girls were asleep.

So obviously, it was fairly entertaining.

But it definitely wasn’t one where I immediately wanted to recommend it to everyone I know. (In fact, I posted about it on Instagram, and many people felt the same way, but even more just flat-out loved it).

First let me tell you a little about the story, and then some of the reasons I’m a little hesitant about it.

Don Tillman is a science professor at a major university. He’s also definitely odd. He has exactly two friends (a fellow professor and that professor’s wife), and he lives a religiously-scheduled life. He calculates the BMI of everyone he comes in contact with, makes exactly the same meals every week, and has bare walls in his house (after all, once you.

It’s pretty clear, although never specifically mentioned, that he falls somewhere on the spectrum.

Then, Don decides that what he needs is a wife. He’s tried dating in the past but it’s never gone beyond a first date (later in the book, Rosie says “didn’t you think it was odd that I’d ask about ______ on a first date?” to which Don replies “Not really. On a date I’m too focused on not saying odd things myself”). This time, to save himself the headache of sorting through a million unsuitable candidates (not to mention time-wasting dates), Don puts together a lengthy questionnaire to have prospective wives fill out.

But all his efforts prove for nothing when he meets Rosie, who meets practically none of his criteria (she smokes, she’s habitually late, she’s a BARTENDER, for crying out loud – Don can’t even believe she can carry on a semi-intelligent conversation) but needs his help on The Father Project, her quest to hunt down her unknown father – her mother died years earlier, so she doesn’t have a lot to go on.

As Don gets further into the project, his rigidly scheduled life spirals more and more into chaos, but he also might be falling in love. Is that even possible?

Basically every review or blurb I’ve read of this book refers to it as a screwball comedy or a quirky love-story. And let me tell you, neither of those are words I usually like to describe my books.

Not only is Don about 10 doses of odd, the storyline itself is pretty wild, with a lot of totally unbelievable twists.

So the wackiness is one reason I’m hesitant about it, since I am wary of recommending books that I’m not at all sure people will appreciate.

And then there is a fair amount of swearing in it (I find that I don’t tend to notice swearing all that much when I’m reading text – it stands out much more to me when I’m listening to an audiobook – but this one was pretty noticeable).

Also, although there’s no sex that ever takes place in the book (either on or off-screen), there’s quite a lot of TALK about it, mostly on the part of the best friend professor who apparently has a goal to sleep with a woman from every country in the world. And yes, he’s married. When this was mentioned early on, I just about gave up on the book right there. My tolerance for adultery is about zero, even fictional adultery.

But it’s also just quite charming – Don, despite his oddities, is really likable, and Rosie is hilarious, and the story moves along at a brisk, unpredictable pace, with a lot of great character development. And it’s a definite twist on the romantic comedy genre.

And it’s so FUN to see Don and Rosie’s relationship haltingly develop as both of them get to know the other person.

There’s a sequel coming out later this month, and I’m fairly sure I’ll read it.

So. . .anyone else read it? Care to tell me what to think about this book? Anyone else have mental angst over books long after they finished the last chapter?

Digital copy purchased with my own hard-earned $2

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  • Reply Sarah September 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I loved this book! It was a bit quirky and there were some parts I didn't agree with (infidelity), but overall I thought it was really entertaining. I also felt like it gave some great insight as to how someone on the spectrum operates and succeeds in daily life. I loved the scene in the beginning when he is talking to the school children.

  • Reply Betsy September 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's definitely a bit quirky, but I don't usually mind quirky. I was excited to see that the sequel is due out later this year.

    Also, this book reminded me of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It's been quite some time since I read that one, but both main characters are on the spectrum and get into various scrapes because of the unique way in which they interact with the world.

  • Reply Ash September 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Yeah, when books make light of adultery it makes me more than a little angry. (Speaking of, I stayed up until an indecent hour to finish I've Got Your Number and I was actually relieved when Magnus turned out to be a cheating liar so that Poppy could justifiably be with Sam. Ha! That was such a good story, and I was dying at the "Mr. Yamasaki, Mr. Yamasaki." I read your review forever ago and finally checked it out last week.)

    Oops, off topic AND novel-length comment. Carry on!

  • Reply missris September 4, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I really really liked this book! My husband is a physicist, and most of his friends are also in physics or the hard sciences, and I could see some of them/their traits in the main character (although not to the same degree). I thought the main character was charming and sweet, and definitely had good intentions.

  • Reply rebeccalately September 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I've been back and forth about buying it. The premise sounds like it could be really interesting! I'll probably borrow it from the library.

  • Reply Jessica September 4, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I loved The Rosie Project. It wasn't a perfect book by any means, but I had so much fun reading it and found it charming. I think I even put it in my post of favorite books this year.

  • Reply Audrey September 4, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    I enjoyed the book, found it very entertaining. But when I read the synopsis of the sequel, I just could not get excited about it. I guess the idea of reading about Don struggling through the events planned for the sequel just sounds exhausting to me. It's hard to explain, but even though I really enjoyed The Rosie Project, I don't see myself reading the sequel. One book was enough.

  • Reply KT September 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    I liked this one well enough. Not my favorite, though I do see myself recommending it to a select group of people (I think my mom would find Don hilarious). And…what is it with Australian authors and all the swearing?

  • Reply Alysa Stewart September 5, 2014 at 1:37 am

    The Rosie Project is still on my TBR list, but yes, I have mental angst about books long after I finish them. I just finished Gone with the Wind (and when I say "just" I mean like a week ago) and I'm still turning it over in my mind, playing out "what if"s and planning the sequel. Hah!

  • Reply Jodi September 5, 2014 at 2:53 am

    hmm never heard of it. I know what you mean about feeling wary about recommending certain books (especially if it's due to content)- but I always know I can pass it to Jenae and she won't be offended! And I'm the same, infidelity is highly unappealing and not in the least bit romantic to me.

  • Reply booksandbrooches September 5, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    I adored this book. Reviewed it on my blog, and recommended it to everyone I know! Lucy.

  • Reply Sarah Hartmann September 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I read it and enjoyed it a lot. Agree about the swearing, it never adds anything to a story but this one got away with it because the rest was charming.

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