Book Review : The Rosie Project By Graeme Simsion


Dating is tough. We all know that. But what if you a genuinely socially challenged, so much so that you are probably somewhere on the autism spectrum? Well, that Professor Don Tillman’s problem. Despite being a super smart professor of genetics, Don is a failure when it comes to women (he has never had a second date in his life). Although, he isn’t quite a 30-something virgin (no clues as to how it happened but we know it didn’t involve a second date – so one-nighter, transactional sex, etc ), his experience with women is seriously lacking. But just like the majority of people his age, he does feel the pressure to settle down especially when it comes to comparing oneself with your peers.

However, unlike the rest of us mere plebs who rely on the likes of Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, our match-making inclined friends or maybe even our parents to assist us in our search for #happilyeverafter, Don devises a way to do this more scientifically. Enter the Wife Project, which consists of a 100+ something questionnaire which has been designed to be time efficient (something of great importance to Dom) and weed out all the incompatibles.

Don has very few friends. But he has some so he isn’t a total Billy-No-Mates. His best friend Gene, a psychology professor who ‘happily’ married and simultaneously on a mission to bed a woman from every country in the world, so as you can imagine isn’t  necessarily the best source of advice when it comes to relationship advice. Gene’s wife, Claudia, despite not being 100% OK about her open marriage, is a slightly better confidant for Don. And finally, there is Daphne, who now suffers from dementia but has always believed that Don would make a ‘wonderful husband for someone some day’ and continually inspires him not to give up on his search for a partner.

So armed with limited experience and questionable sources of advice, Don commences his search for a wife. At a minimum, she needs to smart and punctual (and not have a strong preference for apricot ice cream), and definitely not a tardy, disorganized, chain smoker which as it happens is everything Rosie Jarman is. Just as things are about to get going with Don’s Wife Project, Rosie comes swooping into his office and generally goes about causing mass destruction in Don’s very orderly, scheduled lifestyle that has been happily plodding along like so for long enough (lobster salad every Tuesday, isn’t the worst thing in the world now, is it?) and turns his world upside down and makes him question his very logical set of beliefs.

I won’t give much more away about the story itself that that but this is a lovely little rom-com. The fact that the book is narrated by Don in his ever-peculiar manner is what makes the story endearing. (E.g. he estimates the BMI of everyone who crosses his path. As I’m a self-confessed fat-ist, I can totally relate). Beyond the humor though, it also raises a lot of interesting questions about how much love should defy logic in such situations as well as how socially challenged (technically, the book doesn’t ever confirm that Don is on the spectrum, but it is basically assumed) people should approach dating.

Don is clearly very smart despite the fact that he is he fails to catch social cues. To be fair, I’ve been ‘acquainted’ with my fair share of emotionally stunted men, you know the kind that’d rather watch England cricket reruns rather than address their feelings (thankfully, now that England are cricket world champs there is new matter for the good old wank bank!), but isn’t it rather sad to think there are people out there who may look for love like the rest of us but struggle to find it because of their lack of social abilities? Also, how understanding are the rest of us towards people that are socially awkward or different? Are we willing to give them more leeway to accommodate their difficulties or do we brutally NEXT them, like we do the rest of Tinder?

So all in all, The Rosie Project is a pretty good book and I’d definitely recommend it if you are looking for an easy read. The rom-com story line is engaging enough and it offers a different perspective on the pretty standard narrative about the search for love. There are certain gaps in the story that could’ve been addressed but that hasn’t put me off  purchasing the second installment in the story – The Rosie Effect and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress between the characters.

So Rinsers, have you read the Rosie Project? Did you think it was any good? Do you think people who look at the world too logically will naturally struggle to get to grips with the intangible concepts surrounding love and relationships? Do you have any experience dating someone who was on the spectrum or was just a little bit social awkward? Or if not, would you be open to doing so? Tell me in the comments below. 







  1. Currently reading the third instalment in the series and already hoping for a fourth! The third really deals with what is means to be diagnosed or not with autism and the possible implications either way of being labelled as such. I believe it is a spectrum and a lot of people are on it and before testing have just gone about their lives. I believe I would be diagnosed as autism if I was a child now – would that have meant people did not believe in me?


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