Michael Joseph £12.99

Review: The Rosie Project, By Graeme Simsion

A rom-com with a dash of curious DNA

The debut novel of Graeme Simsion, an Australian IT consultant turned writer, The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy with sublime character precision and soppy but gratifying genre fulfilment. Don Tillman is a professor of genetics; he's also somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Despite being a smart, fit, wealthy 39-year-old, he's had little luck in love. Don hits on the idea of "The Wife Project": a strict, 16-page questionnaire to find the perfect woman by systematically eliminating non-suitable partners. ("The vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths …")

Into his life bursts a young woman named Rosie, who works in a bar, smokes and has daddy issues; "the world's most incompatible woman," he decides. Yet somehow Don finds himself embarking on a new project: to help find her biological father with secretive DNA testing. And he finds that life and love don't always adhere to best-laid scientific protocols.

The Rosie Project, however, follows the rules of a rom-com to the letter: the "just friends" male-female relationship; a reliance on unlikely coincidences to zip the plot along; light-bulb moments of realisation. Comic set-pieces, including a public dancing humiliation turned triumph, see Don's superhuman capacity for memorising correct procedures come into its own. You can practically see the film montage unfolding, and it's no surprise to discover that the novel started life as a screenplay.

There are downsides to this. The quirky female as saviour of a lonely male is an infuriating trope in the rom-com genre, and some readers may find the message that happiness lies in embracing irrationally and your emotions simplistic and sentimental. However, The Rosie Project is a cut above Jennifer Aniston movies for two reasons. First, Don's narration is pitch perfect; a precise, formal, geeky tone conveying his rigidly scheduled, rationally detached world-view. It's easily as impressive as in an obvious predecessor, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Second, The Rosie Project is extremely funny. The reader is in a privileged position, able to see Don's faux pas when he doesn't, but also has a huge amount of affection for the character, whose dispassionate view of illogical social norms is captured with snort-inducing deadpan accuracy. Warmly recommended.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week