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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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Category: Humour
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Funny, warm and touching, a true award-winning recession-buster rom-com for all genders. Don Tillman starts off a bit Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper but is so much better and I speak as one who loves Sheldon Cooper!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Michael Joseph
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-9467083

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Australian Professor of Genetics Don Tillman is passably good looking, successful and tall. If he were an animal he'd be highly sought after for breeding purposes. Unfortunately, he's human and although popular (well… he has two friends anyway) he can't get a second date… from anyone… at all. Being a scientist he sets out on a logical quest for a mate. The Wife Project begins and seems to be progressing… until Rosie.

Graeme Simsion is an Aussie novelist with a Midas touch born of talent rather than a celestial curse. The Rosie Project began life as a screenplay for which he won the 2010 Australian Writers' Guild Award for best romantic comedy. So, while he was waiting for the film to be produced, he converted it into this novel, for which he won the Victorian Premier's Award while it was still an unfinished manuscript. ('Victorian' as in the state rather than the era by the way.) This doesn't surprise me in the slightest as I could fling superlatives at this novel till my pen freezes over; it's that good… excellent… brilliant!

Don Tillman is simultaneously socially inept and incredibly loveable. He operates totally on unemotional logic of which his Asperger's talk to a room of parents and children is a great example. It was also the reason for my convulsive laughter at 05:00 one Saturday morning… sorry neighbours! I would also commend to you the Jacket Episode (Don's capitals) at La Gavroche and the questionnaire discussion with his best (and only) friends Gene and Claudia. The questionnaire is his wife selection tool and, although we can't argue with Don's reasoning, we can see its limitations. (I'll leave it to you to read it for yourselves!)

Gradually we come to understand that Don does have qualities, but they're accidental and camouflaged in logic and intellectual intent. At first, he seems similar to The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper but the more we read, the more we realise that Don is in a class of his own. Rosie is just as wonderful in a proto-punk free-spirited way that's at odds with Don's timed-to-the-minute, menu-controlled existence.

Perhaps I should apologise here as I seem to be skirting around the edges of description, but I really don't want to spoil any moments of discovery for you. On paper under my clumsy explanation, it seems to be standard rom-com fare, but it's hugely superior to what we think of as rom-com. Graeme doesn't talk down to us, we're given subtleties and nuances with which to play and ponder and we're also given some of the most hilarious, poignant moments while we're made to think about our own preconceived ideas or judgements. Really… you need to be there.

From the moment we meet Rosie, we know the ending we'd like but what will we get? It's one of those books that some would say is predictable whichever way it ends but the quality of the writing and the engagement we feel with the characters means that we travel with it every step of the way, greedily relishing each syllable of delicious moment as we're kept guessing practically till the last. Indeed, The Rosie Project is unique in that it's the sort of rom-com that isn't a 'women-only' province as it has plenty with which men can identify and chortle over just as well. I say that from the experience of seeing my husband giggle snortily after my apology and explanatory reading after waking him up at 05:00 on a particular Saturday morning…

If you enjoy a guffaw or two, then we also heartily recommend Harry Lipkin, Private Eye: The Oldest Detective in the World by Barry Fantoni, one of Britain's foremost comedy writers. We also enjoyed The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion and Elizabeth, William... and Me by S Lynn Scott.

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Buy The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion at


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