This review does not contain spoilers.
Don Tillman is getting married.
He just doesn’t know who to yet.
The Wife Project will solve that problem. He has designed a sixteen-page questionnaire to help him 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 also fiery and intelligent and beautiful. And on a quest of her own, to find her biological father—a search that Don, a professor of genetics, just might be able to help her with.
The Wife Project teaches Don some unexpected things. Why earlobe length is an inadequate predictor of sexual attraction. Why ice-cream tastes different in New York. Why he’s never been on a second date. And why, despite the best scientific efforts, you don’t find love: love finds you.
To be honest, the blurb for this book does absolutely nothing for me. Well, that’s not true. It makes me think that I’m going to hate the main character and assume that the book is going to be a minefield of double standards.
I was proved wrong on both counts.
Don Tillman is not the typical middle-aged professor that I’ve come to expect. As far as I can remember all the standards that he holds women to are things he personally adheres to—and I have to say I was extremely grateful. He’s also undoubtedly on the autism spectrum. Don does not recognise this in himself, though his closest friends make reference to him having Asperger syndrome.
Graeme Simsion does a spectacular job of depicting someone on the spectrum without overdoing it or playing to society’s expectations. I wasn’t surprised to learn that The Rosie Project started life as a film script. The book is filled with sparse but effective descriptions and short, informative scenes that enhance the story. Don is charming and sympathetic, narrating the story with an engaging sense of ease that I found to be almost addictive.
For a time I was worried that Rosie Jarman would be the embodiment of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope. She seemed to be meeting Don’s every need, making him open to new things and expanding his view on the world. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised by Simsion’s character development. Rosie’s motivations are strong enough to prevent her life from revolving around Don’s betterment.
The Rosie Project is thoroughly enjoyable and I feel like it definitely lives up to the hype. The writing style is comfortable, conversational, and easy to read. I finished the majority of the book in one sitting and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.
I rate it ★★★★