Caroline Baum: When rights to a debut novel are sold in more than thirty countries, you know a book is generating serious buzz. I am glad to say that this feel-good debut delivers what the hype promises. It’s as light as perfectly baked scone, narrowly avoiding saccharine pitfalls, achieving just the right combo of airiness and substance for the perfect rom-com recipe.
From the moment we meet Don Tillman, professor of genetics, it’s clear we’ve got a special case on our hands. He’s got that awkward slightly aspergers-ish personality that has become so popular with writers of late. Think of him as the grown up version of the boy in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Boy in the Night Time. His very set habits include eating lobster on Tuesdays and wearing daggy quick dry clothes to save time.
Don’s problem (he tells us in his matter of fact deadpan, literal tone) is that he has never been on a second date. With his mathematical brain, he devises a scientifically researched questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Smokers, drinkers and latecomers need not apply.
Except that Rosie is all of these things and more. So how to explain the attraction he feels for a woman who ticks none of the right boxes but presents Don with a compelling scientific quest of her own to find her biological father that presents him with thrillingly unpredictable scenarios?
Irresistibly charming, genuinely funny and cleverly plotted this is intelligent romance for grown ups whose arteries have not hardened with cynicism.
The feel-good hit of 2013, The Rosie Project is a classic screwball romance. Simsion’s book has been sold to 30 different countries and advances have well exceeded $1 million.
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.
Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.