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“The Rosie Project” by Australian author and playwright Graeme Simsion is a funny, whimsical and sometimes poignant novel about Don Tillman, a brilliant, socially challenged, 39-year-old Melbourne University professor of genetics who decides he needs a life partner.
With the help of his only friends, Gene, and Gene’s wife, Claudia, he develops a 16-page evidence-based questionnaire for the potential candidates of his Wife Project.
The reader first meets Mr. Tillman giving a lecture on Asberger’s syndrome, which affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate. As the protagonist, Mr. Tillman follows a very set routine; eating specific meals on certain days of the week, always doing things at a set time. But as the story unfolds, the reader is given insight as to what it takes to modify one’s behavior, specifically, Don Tillman’s.
Any prospective wife of his should like schedules, be punctual, be smart, abstain from alcohol and not be a vegetarian. Of course when he meets Rosie Jarman she meets none of the requirements as she smokes, works as a barmaid and is always late. Although he has disqualified her as a candidate for his Wife Project, Mr. Tillman agrees to offer his genetic expertise in the search for her biological father. Phil, the man who raised her, has been distant and aloof, probably because of his wife’s confession about Rosie’s actual parentage. So Rosie has grown up not quite trusting men. The Wife Project takes a backseat while together, Don and Rosie set out on the “Father Project” and Tillman finds himself falling in love with Rosie, a beguiling, fiery and intelligent woman.
Don Tillman has determination, enthusiasm, integrity and focus in his career and his personal life. This is a story about logic, emotions, friendship and love, of being very conventional and about a non-conformist. It is an amusing romantic comedy and a lesson on accepting friends, loved ones and family just as they are.