Written by Graeme Simsion, 2013 and 2014
Published in the UK by Penguin Books
Engrossing, enthralling, endearing and easy to read – The Rosie Project is an astonishing debut novel from former data-modeller-turned-author Graeme Simsion.
Australian genetics professor Don Tillman is intelligent, polite and super-organised – but he struggles to talk to women, much less date them. So his womanising best friend suggests they devise a questionnaire to assess the suitability of potential love matches for Don. Will tattooed bartender Rosie fit the professor’s picky profile, or does she fail to meet his strict criteria?
Don Tillman is a wonderfully rounded creation; smart, funny and moralistic, despite his many frustrating behavioural quirks and efficiency-obsessed eccentricities. It has been suggested that he is on the Autism spectrum, perhaps having Asperger’s, but this is never outright confirmed. Regardless, it was a joy to watch Rosie open Don up to new and rebellious experiences, whilst also learning so much from a man who at first seemed so impossibly different from her.
I was charmed by this unconventional romance and couldn’t resist smiling along as Don and Rosie’s relationship became more balanced and symbiotic; he helps her just as much as she helps him. I devoured the novel in a couple of days and eagerly anticipated the follow-up, The Rosie Effect, released September 2014.
Sadly, I was let down. Effect successfully recaptured the breezy atmosphere of the original, but the plot hinged upon character decisions which felt very inauthentic and forced. I can imagine Simsion’s Australian publishers begging him for “more of the same magic” and to a degree he duly delivers, except Rosie comes out of these sophomore proceedings a shadow of her former self; challenging, cruel, almost unlikeable. I could happily have gone without reading about the Effect of married life on Don and Rosie’s happily ever after.
A film adaptation of the first book is due next year, however recent news that it has lost its leading lady (Jennifer The Hunger Games Lawrence) and director (Richard Linklater) has me concerned that the Project is doomed if financers Sony Pictures cannot organise proceedings in a more effective and organised manner more befitting Professor Don Tillman.
The Rosie Project CR@B Verdict:
The Rosie Effect CR@B Verdict: