With the list of books I wish to read growing at a faster rate than my reading pace, I’m in a constant battle to get through every book I want. This week I took one step closer by finally getting round to a novel I have wanted to read for two years. This wasn’t my first attempt – during the summer I went into Waterstones, determined to get my hands on a copy, but their last one was missing from the shelf and presumed stolen. Seriously, that’s how eager people are to get their hands on The Rosie Project. It’s a bestseller in multiple countries and after reading it, I can see why.
The Rosie Project is a story about the unconventional nature of love and tackles the long and bumpy road that can lead to finding a romantic partner. In this sense, it captures a tone of reality in the characters’ awkward conversations and perceptions of one another.
Don Tillman, the protagonist, has been embraced by the Asperger’s community, however author Graeme Simsion didn’t intend to write a book from the perspective of someone with Asperger’s and has claimed in interviews to have done no research into it at all. His website now states Don “might just be somewhere on the autistic spectrum.” So, I don’t want to tackle this novel as yet another Asperger’s story, following in the footsteps of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time. While I respect this genre, I believe The Rosie Project is more than this one offering and it’s perhaps the subtle themes in the story which are the most interesting.
The plot, while unique, is quite simple and predictable. Don designs a questionnaire for women in order to help him find the perfect wife. Enter Rosie, who doesn’t match the criteria at all, but you get a sense that she is right for Don in every weird way possible.
Throw away any perceptions you might have of a popular romantic comedy. The awkwardness isn’t comedic and the kisses aren’t romantic. Especially when Don describes his first kiss as “disturbing”. His friendship with Gene is exciting to observe, especially the development of this power balance and the tensions that arise. Don also perceives how people act differently depending on who they are speaking with, the obvious example being him. It gets more interesting when Don compares Gene speak with his wife Claudia and then a stranger at a conference.
The launch campaign was also titled The Rosie Project and said “don’t give roses – give The Rosie Project!” and got members of the public to leave a message for a loved one on the inside cover of a copy of Simsion’s novel which was then hand delivered to them. With a launch like that, how can anyone ignore this story?
I couldn’t believe The Rosie Project was a debut novel. It swooped me away from reality and was truly engulfing, exactly how a book should be. It’s a shame Jennifer Lawrence backed out of the film – she was originally cast as Rosie. I hope this book makes it to the big screens someday and until then, get reading. Don’t wait for the film to come out to take an interest in this book, that wait could be far too long.
Jessikah Hope Stenson