Reading Corner | Intermission | The Rosie Project
A novel by Graeme Simsion
This book was listed among Bill Gates's favourite books, and the fact that this is a romantic comedy novel intrigued me, so I decided to read it.
In this novel, the main character, Don Tillman, professor of genetics, due to his lifelong difficulty with social rituals, is convinced that he is simply not wired for romance. When an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, he figures out that as statistically there is someone for everyone, and decides to start “The Wife Project”. At the same time, he meets Rosie, a bartender, who absolutely does not fit any of the criteria to be a perfect candidate for “The Wife Project”, and who Don decides to help with finding her biological father.
The most interesting element of this novel is certainly how the main character, while never saying about himself that he has Asperger's syndrome, is clearly written to think and behave as a person in the spectrum would. This topic is treated respectfully, and I can't think of many other novels where the main character fits the criteria but this is simply part of the way the character is and not some kind of “gimmick”. If anything, the main character is even “too perfect”, and I am sure that in the world of fanfiction, he would be considered a “Gary Stu”.
The Netflix show Atypical is maybe another example of an autistic character being written well, but only in its later seasons, as in the first ones, the main character's autism was more of a comedic element. I promise though, the show gets incredibly better afterwards and it's actually one of my favourites.
The book is certainly funny and one of those you can't just put down, so I would suggest it to anyone looking for some light reading that is, however, in no way superficial.
The one doubt I have is about the “Rosie” character. She has been described in many ways as being a subversion of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” trope, even by the author himself in this interview; however, to me, she fits the trope perfectly.
Would anyone think of writing a book in which the characters' genders were inverted? With Rosie being the geneticist who is on the spectrum, and Till being the bartender looking for his biological father? I think that would be a real subversion of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, while in the novel, Rosie read like a textbook definition of that trope to me. Even with the later elements that make her a more rounded, relatable character, if not the most rounded character of the whole book.
Anyway, despite the somewhat “flat” characters, I would definitely recommend this book, as it offers a cute, funny story that makes you want to keep reading.
Next on my list:
- Dead trees give no shelter, by Will Wheaton.