The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
I read The Rosie Project in one day. I had no expectations of what it was about or the hype attaching to it, but the writing had me chuckling away from the outset and I wasn’t able to put it down - luckily I was on holidays!
The Rosie Project is written from the perspective of an eccentric and socially inept Professor of Genetics, Don Tillman. Discouraged by his poor success in his relationships with women he decides to embark on a project by which he will locate and secure a wife by way of a rigorous scientific approach involving questionnaires and the process of elimination. Rosie is the unlikely young woman who slips under his scientific radar and throws his fastidiously ordered lifestyle into chaos.
For me, The Rosie Project was a light, fun comedy. I thought the author did a wonderful job of creating and then sustaining the dramatic irony and the comedy that arose out of the divide between Don’s perception of the world and the way the rest of the world sees Don. And although I know some reviewers found Rosie’s character wooden and Don’s outlook tedious, I thought they were perfect given that the story is written from Don’s perspective and that he was undoubtedly intended by the author to be sitting somewhere on the autism spectrum, probably at the Asperger’s end.
Having said all that, I’m a bit unsure about the relatively recent rage for comedy involving characters on the spectrum (the boy in The Curious Incident of the Dog…, Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, Doc Martin in Doc Martin, Mr Udall in As Good as it Gets, just to name a few). I’m also not sure that readers who have a close connection with autism and know all too well the life long grind that’s involved in managing its outcomes would appreciate Don’s rapid transformation to relative ‘normality’ by the end of the book. On the other hand, perhaps it’s time that comedy played a part in fostering a greater awareness and understanding about a condition that’s been overlooked for a long time, even if some of the science underpinning that comedy might be a bit wobbly.