I feel like I’m the last person on the planet to read this book, but I’ve finally got around to it over the past week. Yay, for holidays!
There has been a lot of hype around The Rose Project. Written by Australian author Graeme Simsion, the book won the Australian book industry awards Book of the Year in 2014 among other accolades and very favourable reviews.
The book revolves around Don Tillman, a socially awkward genetics professor who is very set in his OCD ways. In his attempt to find a life partner, he creates The Wife Project, a 16 page questionnaire designed to find him a compatible partner who is perfect in every way. That was until he meets Rosie, an intelligent, fiery woman who will shake Don and his scientific ways. Rosie also has her own quest; to find her biological Father.
So what did I think?
Firstly I think perhaps with all the surrounding hype I expected more and therefore felt a little let down. However, that is not to say that this isn’t a great book, it is. In fact it was thoroughly enjoyable, without being in the ‘can’t put it down category’.
What I liked:
It was well paced. There weren’t any boring bits or saggy middle. The story progressed along nicely. And wrapped up rather quickly.
Excellent dialogue. The Rosie Project was originally written as a screenplay and in parts that is quite obvious, and it makes for excellent dialogue. It is snappy, sharp and very witty, and compliments the narrative in every way.
Flawless narrative. The story is written in the first person, narrated by the main character Don. And it is done flawlessly. If ever there was a book to use an example of perfect narrative, The Rosie Project is it. It is tricky to get the balance right when writing in the first person, but Simsion nails it. We see the world through the eyes of Don Tillman and the author is seamless in creating a balance between showing and telling, and allowing the narrative to flow whilst containing the readers interest.
What I didn’t like:
The main reason I can’t give this book five stars is purely subjective; it didn’t grab a hold of me and draw me completely in. Not all books have to, I know, but isn’t it great when they do? And I really wanted this book to, but it wasn’t to be.
It is such a beautifully character based story that I think I wanted more from them (the characters), I wanted more detail, perhaps more of Rosie and the other characters. I wanted to get inside their heads, analyse their thoughts and actions. Don is well covered, and I have heard others say how they just adored him, but I didn’t. At times I thought he was a complete tosser (because he was), but luckily he did seem to redeem himself (mostly).
The ending. (spoiler alert) Well, it’s not really a spoiler alert, we know how it’s going to end from the first line of the blurb. And that’s okay, but I just felt Simsion wrapped it up all too cleanly and also too quickly. There were parts that were cringe worthy and parts where I just shook my head and rolled my eyes. Unfortunatley I just didn’t believe Don and Rosie were meant to be! I didn’t feel it and really, I don’t think Don did either, but I may be missing something. Ore expecting something different.
Generally, I did enjoy the book. It is entertaining, engaging and witty. I didn’t find it laugh out loud funny as some have said, but that may reflect more on me, than the book!
I would recommend it though, certainly as an example of a well written and executed manuscript and I did find myself learning about first person writing along the way (that’s the writer coming out in me!).
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Have you read the Rosie Project?
What did you think?
Am I too harsh? Or just totally didn’t get it?