The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


This Australian best seller is told in the first person by a 40 year old academic whose location on the Asperger's Symdrome scale is immediately apparent to everyone but him. He is governed by logic which suggests to him that an unvarying meal schedule is the most efficient, that his clothes should be chosen for practical reasons only, and individuals he encounters should be described by an estimate of their age and body mass index. He has undertaken a wife project, that is, finding a life partner by creating a questionnaire to eliminate unsuitable women (those who are late for appointments, who smoke, who are vegetarian, and so on).

You wouldn't think such an apparently rigid character would be so appealing, but early on we hear about Daphne, an elderly woman who is one of his few friends. She moved into the apartment above his when her husband went into a nursing home. They became friends as she enjoyed learning about his vocation (genetics) and he liked the economies of scale of cooking one meal for two people. She was named for the plant and mentioned when her birthday came near that it would be the first year she wouldn't receive daphne flowers to celebrate. "The solution was obvious and when I wheeled her [wheelchair] to my apartment on her 78th birthday I purchased a quantity of the flowers to give her. She recognized the smell immediately and burst into tears. I thought I'd made a terrible error but she explained her tears were a symptom of happiness." As she moved into dementia and asked more often when her next birthday was, he celebrated with flowers and cake more often. Don's relentless logic and lack of emotion are tempered by kindnesses such as these.

Rosie is one of those "unsuitable life partners" that Don meets. They become friends and after many adventures, well, you can guess how it goes. An irresistible book, especially in audiobook form read by an Australian.

Graeme Simsion, The Rosie Project, Simon and Schuster, 2013, 304 pages (I listened to the audiobook version).




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