I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now, but exams, revision, homework and family have all got in the way. I’ve spent the last two weekends doing nothing but work, which suits me just fine (I’m not the most sociable of people), but it has left room for little else. I probably ended doing too much for my last assignment, but it was actually quite fun – so I put the extra bit of effort in. it was for English, and we’d been asked to create a modern day magazine based on Romeo and Juliet. She left it largely open for interpretation – and I’d been away on the day it was assigned so knew nothing of the recommended two pages. I like open ended tasks, but hate them at the same time. This is because of my tendency to put a lot of work into something which only needed 20 minutes. I’ll go away, cancel all my plans and try to create the best piece of work I can while most of the class just scribble a few words on a piece of paper ripped out of their exercise book. Sadly, with half the teachers, you’re better off not wasting your time – as they give every student a standard tick then move on to the next one. However, my English teacher is actually worth putting in the extra effort. I love it when you get a teacher who genuinely cares about their subject, and I like to think I can show that I do too.
For the 2 page article, I ended up doing a full magazine, but I think it was worth it as it kept me busy and I produced a piece of work I could possibly be pleased with. It was interesting to look through a piece of shakespear’s writing thinking, “how can I turn this into a gossip article?” instead of, “What language does he use to support his storyline” (a very boring essay starter). My aim was to include as many hidden references as possible – without interfering with the in-formal style. Hopefully I managed this, but in any case, I enjoyed it.
I also managed to finish the Rosie Project and it’s sequel (The Rosie Effect). The copy I read was borrowed from my Dad, who had in turn been given it as a birthday present from my sister. When my sister was at home a lot last year- then when my dad was at home more, they found themselves together a lot. This was quite hard as we had never spent much time with our Dad growing up (he had always been hard at work and came home stressed) , but they shared books. And the Rosie Project was one of those books. They both liked it so much, that they went to meet the author at a signing. My father walked away with a note saying, “I think there’s a little Don in you” (don is the main character who lives his life by a schedule, without room for emotion – I think it was an accurate comment) and my sister got a note in multiple colours as she couldn’t decide which one she liked the most! When my dad’s birthday came round, she bought him a copy of the second book. It was something that brought them together and they could share their enjoyment of – and for this reason, it has a special memory that makes reading it even more enjoyable.
On top of this, the protagonist – Don – is depicted to have many symptoms of Aspergers. This is something close to my heart as a member of my family has a functional form of Aspergers. As someone who has lived alongside Aspergers syndrome, I felt I could relate to the book very well and recognised many behaviours – which made Don seem all the more endearing!
I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem. As with so many scientific
breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect. But had it not been for a series of
unscheduled events, it is unlikely I would have discovered it.
The sequence was initiated by Gene insisting I give a lecture on Asperger’s
Syndrome that he had previously agreed to deliver himself. The timing was extremely
annoying. The preparation could be time-shared with lunch consumption, but on the
designated evening I had scheduled ninety-four minutes to clean my bathroom. I was
faced with a choice of three options, none of them satisfactory:
- Cleaning the bathroom after the lecture, resulting in loss of sleep with a
consequent reduction in mental and physical performance;
- Rescheduling the cleaning until the following Tuesday, resulting in an
eight-day period of compromised bathroom hygiene and consequent risk
- Refusing to deliver the lecture, resulting in damage to my friendship with
I presented the dilemma to Gene, who, as usual, had an alternative solution.
‘Don, I’ll pay for someone to clean your bathroom.’
I explained to Gene—again—that all cleaners, with the exception of the
Hungarian woman with the short skirt, made errors. Short-skirt Woman, who had also
been Gene’s cleaner, had disappeared following some problem with Gene and Claudia.
‘I’ll give you Eva’s mobile number. Just don’t mention me.’
‘What if she asks? How can I answer without mentioning you?’ Sometimes
people make impossible demands.
‘Just say you’re contacting her because she’s the only housekeeper who does it
properly. And if she mentions me, say nothing.’
This was an excellent outcome, and an illustration of Gene’s incredible ability to
find solutions to social problems. Obviously Eva would enjoy having her competence
recognised and might even return on a permanent basis, freeing up an average of three
hundred and sixteen minutes per week in my schedule.
Any book with the first line, “I may have found a solution to the wife problem”, gives you a bit of a hint that it’s – how should I put this – not your typical romance. Which is brilliant, I hate love stories. The best way of putting it, is an unconventional romantic comedy relying on the humour of everyday life instead of cheesy and awkward jokes.
Don lives his life with a lot of rules. Every minute of his time is counted for, any changes to his schedule are rejected unless he can pay the time back at a later date, and the question, “what’s for dinner” is non-existent with his standardised meal plan (optimized for maximum nutrition, enjoyment and efficiency of course). His job as a geneticist requires a certain type of thinking, but he fails to leave this at the office – resulting in his informal speaking sounding rather similar to his formal. For don, socialising is very hard. There are no formulas for a good conversation and peoples responses are not as easily predicted as the influence alcohol has on cirrhosis of the liver. Therefore, when his spreadsheets show that getting married could improve his standard of living (and maybe he has a few emotions despite previous evidence) he isn’t quite sure what to do. Previous relationships have ended over disagreements on ice-cream flavours, and don is not content with anything less than the best. The first chapter introduces his solution – the wife project. He devises a long, thorough questionnaire with multiple choice questions – of which only one answer is correct, and must be correct. In theory, this will filter out all of the time-wasters. The poor mathematicians, the ice-cream flavour discriminators, the unpunctual and the smokers (and about 99.999% of the earths population).
The questionnaire is perfect for Don’s criteria, and all he has to do is wait for people to fill them in and send them back. Something very likely to happen in his mind. But in the time it takes for the project to start operating, Don meets Rosie – the world’s most incompatible woman. She ticks all the wrong boxes and wreaks havoc whenever they meet. Soon, Don’s schedule is obliterated, his meal plan devoured and everything that was his life turned upside down. Yet somehow, he wants to spend more time with her…
The book is excellently written, Simsion manages to let you see the world through Don’s eyes. How he interprets the world and people in it, becomes how you interpret his world. The author is very clever in leaving little hints, symptoms everywhere but in the end, allowing you to work it out for yourself. The whole story fits together very well with a few of those, “ah yes! Of course” moments where you have to flick back a few pages to realise that Graeme had been planning something for the last how ever many chapters.
It’s very entertaining to watch (or read, I suppose – although one of my favourite things about this book is how easy it is to get lost in it) as these two complete opposites fall each other. Especially as Don is completely oblivious to it, and remains certain throughout the book that he does not feel anything for Rosie as she is incompatible – and Rosie is such a strong character that she would never admit liking Don.
I don’t have any real criticisms really, except that it had quite a slow pace in places – however, this added to the experience as to Don, life was about schedules and order. Big events were just disruptions to his routine so it felt important to have everyday events, as the way he saw them was so different. It was also nice to read a book where it didn’t need action packed into every sentence in order to still be interesting (sometimes it’s nice to keep things realistic). The book could possibly have been compacted a little more without losing anything, however, I don’t think it deducts from the overall enjoyment.
So in summary, The Rosie Project is an easy and enjoyable read that shows you the world from a new, confusing perspective. It is very easy to get into (without lacking sophisticated language) and the pages turn by themselves (in case you are reading this Don, they don’t literally turn themselves, it’s a figure of speech to say you want to read more). Simsion does an excellent job of producing a romance that is both funny and realistic without being cheesy, or boring. It’s great to read from a different perspective and makes it a really fantastic story. Well worth a read (or even two).
And if you really like it, share the love and lend it to a friend or family member – it brought a lot of smiles to our house and really helped my sister and Dad.