The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion tells the story of the romance between Don, a university professor clearly on the autism spectrum, and Rosie, a young woman he assists in her search for her biological father. Their relationship is complicated by Don’s insistence that any potential partner prove her compatibility by completing and passing a multi page questionnaire. Causes for rejection as a potential partner include; being a vegetarian, smoking, being continually late, all of which apply to Rosie.
I adored The Rosie Project – it engaged me in the characters and had me at times giggling at Don’s antics, and generally rooting for them. I listened to it in audiobook format which was excellent.
What I liked
The characters. I adored them. Don’s social ineptness was very endearing (although I don’t think I’d want to deal with it personally on a day-to-day basis) and Rosie was such a lot of fun. I was rooting for them, both in their romantic relationship and their quest to identify Rosie’s biological father thanks to Don’s genetics know-how. Even the minor characters, such as Don’s friends Gene and Claudia, had their own issues which kept them interesting as well.
Don’s character development. I know this particular aspect did turn off some readers, especially those familiar with the autism spectrum. For me, personally, I was happy to go along with it. Social interaction is hard for Don. He knows he is wired differently. Given that it is such a struggle for him, he makes a conscious decision to embrace his quirkiness – it’s only through his love for, and interactions with Rosie, that he feels more confident to attempt to fit into the neurotypical world. it doesn’t always work, but it’s nice to see him really trying.
The writing style. This is written from Don’s point of view and he has his own imitable style. Given that’s he’s on the autism spectrum, the writing style leans more towards the scientific report rather than a journal. For example, he would say “Rosie was 8.5 minutes late. We left the apartment at 6.24pm, which resulted in a 3 minute delay in arriving for our dinner reservation.” The humour of the novel is based on the assumption that the reader/listener is more socially adept than Don. The social disasters in which Don ends up are all obvious to the reader a considerable time before poor Don realises that he has put his foot in it once again.
The narration. The Rosie project is set in Australia with Australian characters. It makes sense, therefore, that it was narrated by an Australian, Dan Grady. I am used to narrators speaking with US or British accents, so I found this was a welcome change and kept my interest in the book. At one point, Don and Rosie take a trip to the US and Grady uses American accents for the characters they meet there.
I loved The Rosie Project and gave it five stars out of five – my first five star review in quite some time.