The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – A review by Andrew Cattanach

by |February 24, 2013

An IT consultant in his 50s decides to write his first novel. The novel is sold to 30 different countries and advances exceed $1 million.

And that’s just the About The Author section, imagine how good the story inside the book is.

Don Tillman  needs a wife. He has evaluated data and it’s obvious that this is all that is required in his life. He is a professor of genetics, physically attractive, is an excellent cook, even a martial arts expert. But has never ever been on a second date. So he designs a questionnaire to separate the wheat from the chaff, The Wife Project. His friends (the few he has) are worried that perhaps his awkward attempts at social interaction may leave him heartbroken yet again. But with a few bumbles along the way, he meets a woman who is spectacularly wrong for him, the questionnaire says so. But as he is about to pass her over she enlists him in an exciting new project, and there’s no harm in getting to know her a little better, is there?

While I rarely read romantic comedies (my attempts at romance in my own life are comical enough), the sheer noise reverberating from The Rosie Project demanded my attention, and I’m incredibly thankful I took notice.

I’m not sure I’ve read a more steady, comic hand than that of author Graeme Simsion’s as he takes you into The Rosie Project. At first you find yourself drawn to Don Tillman, your narrator and protagonist, and his case of what appears Aspergers. Often to hook readers in authors turn to an offbeat voice but in The Rosie Project this simply adds to the subtle comedy rather than being the architect of it.  Don is intense, happy as one could be, and completely unaware that much of his life and rigid personality has been shaped by his condition. He is exceptionally bright and totally aware of it, yet never comes off as arrogant, only calling things as he sees them and unfortunately for most of the people around him, he makes a lot of calls.

As Don begins to embark on his quest to find a soulmate you find yourself gripped by the story, and what was once a character piece becomes a warm, touching journey towards life’s greatest question, who are we, or rather, why are we?

It’s astounding that this is Simsion’s first novel, although it was as a screenplay that The Rosie Project was originally imagined. As frustration piled, on waiting for production to take place, Simsion turned his wonderful tale into a novel.

Perhaps it’s with the help of his screenplay that you feel as though every word, every breath from the characters is meticulously considered yet feels completely off the cuff. As I say, an astonishing effort for a debut novel. The dialogue is sharp and funny, the story engaging and thoughtful.

At last we have a Rom-Com with a brain as well as a heart, a story about loving people for who they are, not who we want them to be. Perfect for the book-a-week reader as well as a great gift to the friend who should read more.

The Rosie Project will be talked about for a long time to come, why not grab a copy and join in the conversation today.

Click here to buy The Rosie Project from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Don’t forget to check out the terrific interview with Graeme Simsion and Booktopia’s own Caroline Baum, it’s a real treat.

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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