It was the day of travel, when I had to go back to Blighty (more on that tomorrow). I’d gotten my last €40 out of the travel car account, and I decided to buy something to read. I dragged Josh into the airport bookshop, which was a weird, international mishmash version of WHSmiths, and had a look at the English section, unfortunately the smallest section in the whole thing. It meant that I had to do a serious dig, amongst all the chic lit and terrible erotic novellas, and came up with a couple of alright-looking ones (to be fair, I went back twice, as I wasn’t sure the first time whether I’d have enough for two books after feeding Josh and I from a really expensive airport café). The first one I bought I am yet to properly read, but the second book, The Rosie Project, which I’d seen in the bookshops back at home in the UK, was something I had to read first. After the magazines I picked up, obviously.
The story is of a genetics professor, and professional cocktail maker in Australia, called Don Tillman, who is undiagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, although a couple of the characters attempt to hint to him that he may have the disability. He is precocious, has a rigid routine, and is eccentric both emotionally and socially. He decides he wants to get married, but hasn’t got a woman to marry. So he creates ‘The Wife Project’, with a full on questionnaire to make sure he finds the most suitable candidate. It’s a perfect idea to find the perfect wife… Until he meets Rosie. Whilst helping her to find her biological father, he starts to feel an emotion that he hasn’t felt before, even though she is completely incompatible with him according to his requirements. The novel looks at the growing relationship, and his struggle to understand and learn that sometimes, love comes to you rather than the other way round.
This was a book that was believable, funny, sweet and charming. Don is a character that, although you can so see that he is on the autistic spectrum, it’s not the main focus of the novel. It’s about him, and his growth as a person, rather than about his issues. Although, that said, it’s handled sensitively and realistically. The writer says in his interview, that he based Don and his characteristics on people he worked with as an IT specialist, rather than researching the condition in the traditional way. In this case, it worked. You can tell when a writer has had to research a condition, without any personal knowledge of it. This helped to portray Don in a positive light, despite his flaws.
And I liked the additions of Don’s questionnaire, cocktail recipes and interviews in the edition that I picked up. It gave the book a touch that made you feel more included, not just a reader, but actually someone in Don’s world.
This is the first book ever, with an Asperger’s protagonist, that I actually haven’t had any issues with. I remember reading Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I feel is one of the most stereotypical and terrible characterisations of an autistic person that I have ever read, as it really focused on the condition, and not the character himself, which is the biggest problem when writing autistic characters. I enjoyed this book, simply because it’s a book about a guy who wants a girl, rather than an autistic guy who can’t get a date.
My rating: *****
For a rom-com, brilliant!