Graeme Simsion’s book The Rosie Project gives a new perspective on dating. In the novel, the reader follows the story of Don Tillman, who is desperately looking for a wife. However, Don is a bit quirky and decides to create a survey. He will only go on dates with women who have filled out the survey in a “satisfactory way.”
Though this may seem like a weird way of finding a partner, Simsion shows through the quality of his writing that normal first dates actually aren’t that different from filling out a survey. There are always discussions about smoking, what someone likes to eat and their family history. And Internet dating is basically just a questionnaire someone fills in and then the computer matches the people that are compatible. They usually just don’t fill out a real paper in front of the person, as is the case for Don’s dates.
Graeme Simsion never explicitly compares what the average reader does on dates with Don’s survey but due to his talented writing abilities it does become clear to an observant reader. Including descriptions of Don’s previous dates, with a mention of the survey soon after, allows the reader to make the connection themselves and reflect on whether they interrogate their date.
This subtle writing is the main strength of the novel.
The survey is just one of the quirky habits of Don Tillman and throughout the novel there is some indicating that Don is “not normal”, which is what his friends and family say repeatedly. However, Simsion never makes Don too weird or too absurd – there is always something in his behavior that the reader can relate to. The fact that Don never becomes a stereotype, though he does have the behaviors of a typical autistic man in literature, shows the great characterization skill of the author.
The biggest problem with the book is the predictability. Some readers love to escape in a story of which they can predict the ending from chapter one (or in this case, from just looking at the title). Other readers like suspense, and for them this book is not a good fit. The author knows how to use the language, but this cannot save the clichéd plot elements that are extremely present. It is hard to really explain what the book is about to anyone, without making them go “oh so he…” and correctly guessing the ending. But that’s the case for a lot of contemporary literature, so Simsion definitely has a market for this kind of story.
If you are looking for book that can help you reflect on your dating style, then this book is perfect for you. If you want to read something original or life-changing, then don’t pick it up.