Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book #1 The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

The Rosie Project

My first book of January was The Rosie Project - a current bestseller, which I read for my book club.

The novel is about Professor Don Tillman, a genetics lecturer in Australia who, it is strongly implied though not directly stated has Asperger's Syndrome. Don is on the hunt for a wife, and has an extremely strict criteria of qualities which his potential wife needs to possess in an orchestrated 'Wife Project'. Step forward Rosie - a woman who meets none of Don's criteria and who has a very specific project of her own.

In many ways there's a lot of inevitability to the entire plot, but it's executed in a really sweet and warm way. There's a lot to like about The Rosie Project, particularly many witty scenarios and turns of phrase.

My personal favourite moments included the Jacket Incident where Don takes the need to wear a jacket at a certain restaurant quite literally, and especially the moment where Don purposefully doesn't tell Rosie she is beautiful as she has told him not to objectify women.

"I hadn't noticed. I told the most beautiful woman in the world"

The result of this means that Rosie's next appearance in the novel is her gorging herself on cake at her desk. Which is totally believable as a female response. Who doesn't immediately buy cake when they are romantically frustrated? Oh? Just me then? OK! 

The book would lend itself well to a romantic comedy at the cinema and was apparently initially intended as such, but it is not entirely well done.

The main hostility towards it at my book club was its portrayal of Asperger's - the more Don falls in love the more the rigid structures he imposes on himself dissipate as if love is the miracle cure of quite a serious condition. People who had first and second hand experience of Asperger's were annoyed and frustrated at what was seen and actually I think, rightly, as a saccharine, unrealistic & occasionally stereotypical depiction.

On the plus side, it never feels like you the Reader, or that Graeme Simison the author is mocking or scoffing at Don, you do root for him and enjoy his quirky ways, which makes the book stronger as a portrayal of disability for it.

The resolution of the novel itself is too neat, too clean, too smiley faced and too Hollywood. We all felt that a more open ended yet positive finale would have been far more suitable.

I enjoyed this book but it is entirely disposable and fluffy, chick lit really, think more Male Bridget Jones with Asperger's than something like The Time Traveler's Wife.


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