Friday, 10 May 2013

book review: the rosie project by graeme simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: 5/10
Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor who's decided the time has come to find a wife. His questionnaire is intended to weed out anyone who's unsuitable. The trouble is, Don has rather high standards and doesn't really do flexible so, despite lots of takers - he looks like Gregory Peck - he's not having much success in identifying The One.

When Rosie Jarman comes to his office, Don assumes it's to apply for the Wife Project - and duly discounts her on the grounds she smokes, drinks, doesn't eat meat, and is incapable of punctuality. However, Rosie has no interest in becoming Mrs Tillman and is actually there to enlist Don's assistance in a professional capacity: to help her find her biological father.

Sometimes, though, you don't find love: love finds you...

To make sure that our choices are varied my book club chooses a book from a different genre every month - this month's genre was romance and we settled on The Rosie Project as an alternative to more traditional romance novels. I was quite looking forward to reading something light and fluffy. In many ways this was an easy read - the plot is quite straight forward and it's not intellectually or emotionally challenging - but I actually found this quite a stressful reading experience.

To be fair to Graeme Simsion, most of my anxiety had little to do with the content/form of the book but with the subject - I've been burned so many times by attempts to make comedy out of mental health/behaviour disorders (see: The Big Bang Theory and Silver Linings Playbook) that I spent the whole time just waiting for this to descend in to stereotyping and claims that 'putting yourself out there' is the cure for social disorders. In fairness, the book avoided saying anything particularly offensive (though I raged a little at the insinuation that Don was 'playing up' his neuroses for attention) but I was on tenterhooks the whole time. Obviously, this wasn't helped by the fact that the book was marketed as a romance so I was pre-emptively irritated by the inevitable 'love cures (or at least smooths over!) all' ending.

This book is set in Australia but I kept forgetting that! The only time it was really obvious was when they made reference to time differences after travelling to New York - otherwise it was quite easy to assume Britishness/American-ness! I really enjoyed Don's voice throughout though I wish there had been more of his backstory (especially about his relationship with his family). The ending was fairly predictable - I would have much preferred an open and slightly vague ending compared to the rushed and overly neat one we got but it was the ending regular romance readers would want/expect.

Because of my sensitivity to mental illness etc. I found the book more stressful than other readers might and that detracted a lot from my experience of reading this. It didn't resonate with me personally but I can see the appeal for people who want a gentle story to read in a lazy afternoon.

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