Posted by: Lisa Hill | February 23, 2013

The Rosie Project (2013), by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project is a nice, feel-good farce, and a perfect foil to the dark humour of  my last book, Blueprints for a Barbed-wire Canoe.  Winner of the Premier’s Literary Award for best unpublished fiction manuscript, and apparently with rights sold all over the place, The Rosie Project is a rom-com probably destined for best-sellerdom and countless book groups.

(It made me wonder: if this were written by a woman, about a woman, it would be labelled chick-lit. Is that what we call it when it’s a rom-com written by a man, about a man’s quest for love?   Hmmm.)

Anyway, it’s reminiscent of Toni Jordan’s debut novel Addition which also featured a character with … um …  an ‘unusual’ personality.  In Addition Grace seems to have an obsessive compulsive disorder: she counts everything.  But, hey, she finds love anyway.  And in The Rosie Project so does Don Tillman, professor of genetics, despite an unusual cluster of eccentric behaviours ranging from ones which get him upgraded on airline flights so that other passengers don’t have to put up with him, to others which, oh dear,  remind me of students along the autism spectrum.

It’s Don who narrates the story but we get the picture.  He’s reasonably self-aware in an awkwardly intellectual way but it’s quite clear that he lacks social graces.  He is puzzled by human emotion, and as people along the autism spectrum tend to do, he makes his decisions and interprets the world only through rational reasoning.  That logic shows him that the rest of the world operates differently but he gets by with intensive tutoring from his only friends: the uber-randy Gene whose project is to screw his way around the world map – and Gene’s long-suffering wife Claudia, a psychologist in need of some intensive therapy herself.

Don’s never had a second date and he finds physical contact stressful but he’s keen to find love, and so he devises a questionnaire to find the perfect woman.  Rosie, who blunders into his life with a poignant project of her own, comprehensively fails the test, but – yes, you guessed it, Don finds himself attracted to her anyway.

It’s good fun, and amusing.  I admit that I don’t feel all that confident about the long-term prospects of the relationship that ensues, because (as every parent of an adolescent male undergoing the grunt phase knows) it can be very wearying taking responsibility for interpreting the emotional needs of someone who can’t express it himself, but hey, women will take on all kinds of blokes when the magnetic attraction strikes.

Other reviews are at the SMH.

Update:  Angela Meyer at Literary Minded reviewed it too, and so has Sue at Whispering Gums.

Fishpond: The Rosie Project


  1. not sure this would be one for me Lisa ,I tend to avoid best sellers but sure I ll see it mention a lot if it comes over here seems like one that may do well in the uk ,all the best stu


    • Thanks for dropping by, Stu!


  2. This is getting a big push in the UK. I got invited to the launch party (at the Ivy, no less) last night but couldn’t make it. It sounds like a fun read.


  3. I was also invited to the launch party in the UK. I think I’ll give it a go – I have a copy on my tbr shelf. Not sure it’s my sort of thing but the publicist was very persuasive!


    • Tom, I admit that I was a little bit doubtful, the last time I read a book as hyped as this I was very disappointed. But this one is well worth reading.


  4. Apparently chick-lit written by men is called ‘d—lit’!
    (LH: Sorry, Karenlee, I had to edit this in case one of my students stumbles across it!)


  5. Good one Lisa … I finally wrote my review and, not surprisingly I suppose, started it off rather like yours regarding the genre issue. It’s a fun read … as for the longevity issue? We don’t worry about things like reality in rom coms I think! We just believe that all is possible!


  6. PS Your AGE link didn’t work for me …

    LH: I’ve changed it to the one at the SMH, they’re the same anyway.


  7. […] Lisa at ANZLitLovers also found it fun. […]


  8. This is released in Britain next week. I’m publishing an article on it but looked up yours first – you seem rather underwhelmed by it – as was I !


  9. […] Melbourne and the Australians have had the opportunity to read it well before us as is shown by this review by Lisa on ANZ […]


  10. […] The Rosie Project is published in the UK in hardcover and ebook on 11 April. It is already available in Australia, where it has received many favourable reviews, including this one by Lisa Hill at ANZLitLovers. […]


  11. […] Melbourne and the Australians have had the opportunity to read it well before us as is shown by this review by Lisa on ANZ […]


  12. […] Other Reviews: Whispering Gums (here) and ANZ LitLovers (here) […]


  13. […] another review, see Lisa’s here (She also mentions Addition) and Sue’s […]


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