Within a couple of weeks three people recommended The Rosie Project*, by Graeme Simsion. I wasn’t that keen as when first described as a romance novel this turned me off. Just not my bag. However, the descriptions built and I was intrigued. A romantic novel where the lead character has Autism, written from his view point, with plenty of comedic moments and commentary on social norms. This sounded good!
Don Tillman is our lead and it’s easy to grasp from the beginning he sees the world differently due to Autism or Asperger’s. We are never told exactly where Don lies on the spectrum and this works brilliantly. As explained in the novel those with Autism often don’t know. Why would they? For their brains are operating, often at a high function and they are getting about in life just fine.
Don is a university genetics professor and the story is based in one of my favourite cities, Melbourne, Australia. Keen to fulfil social conventions, Don decides he will resolve the wife problem with ‘The Wife Project’. He formulates a detailed questionnaire for prospective dates, trying to determine their suitability for marriage. Don’s list didn’t sound that much different to the online dating forms I have filled in!
The questionnaire brings Rosie into Don’s life by way of best friend Gene, an older professor who is always on hand to help Don navigate social norms. Rosie is quickly determined as an unsuitable wife but her own search for her father results in Don establishing ‘The Rosie Project’. This project quickly escalates as Don is challenged to reconsider his personal rules and routines, interact with a multitude of people at a university reunion, all to determine Rosie’s parentage.
‘Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant. It’s potentially a major advantage. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organisation, focus, innovative thinking and rational detachment.’ – Don Tillman
What I loved about Graeme’s story is that he painted a world where Autistic people should be accepted and not considered faulty. Don’s thought processes throughout a situation or social interaction are clear and often make our complex social norms ridiculous. His dependency on routines and the situations he gets himself in make Don likable and someone we all root for.
If you love the characters and story as much as I did you will be pleased to know there is a sequel* and a third in development!
I’d love to hear what books you are reading at the moment? PF xo
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