By Graeme Simsion
Simon & Schuster, $24.00, 295 pages
The Rosie Project, is a story where science and love come together in unlikely circumstances, with a touch of literalness. We meet Professor Don Tilliman, who studies genetics, who does have Asperger’s syndrome and adheres to a strict schedule, whether it’s his gym schedule or meeting a colleague; in other words, his interpersonal skills are less than desirable. As for his love life, Don has had little success – most dates stop at the first date. See the “Apricot Ice Cream Disaster.” And as for friends, he can count them on one hand. Never fear, there’s hope on the horizon.
Hope comes in the form of his upstairs neighbor, Daphne. They bond over flowers and regular weekly dinners. As she declines in health, Don remembers her telling him “there is someone for everyone.” With this inspiration and incredible statement it gives Don not only hope, but also new work and thus The Rosie Project takes shape. He creates a 16-page questionnaire scientifically, since that is how he is wired and knows no other way of approaching this undertaking. He implements this questionnaire with the help of his two good and only friends and colleagues, Gene and Claudia, who are his sounding board and give him advice and remind him to be flexible, to give his dates the benefit of the doubt and that things won’t always go as planned. He goes out on speed dating and group dating with mixed results, but then enter Rosie onto the scene and nothing goes as Don expects or planned. Don is surprised that someone who according to the questionnaire should have been deemed inappropriate and rejected might just be the change that his life needs. Rosie, who is a vegetarian, smokes, and uses Don’s iPod dock for something besides listening to scientific podcasts while making the same Tuesday night dinner according to the Standardized Meal System, which is lobster, mango, and avocado salad with wasabi-coated flying fish roe and crispy seaweed and deep-fried leek garnish. For those of you who wish to visit Don on any Tuesday, this is the standing menu. And be warned, he keeps the lobster in the bathtub.
As I was reading, I enjoyed to see how opposites such as Don and Rosie came to be. You, the reader, will laugh at the subtleness of the jokes that are peppered throughout and how Don and Rosie might be “that someone,” that Daphne was talking about after all.
Reviewed by Annie Hicks