The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Sometimes books come to you from others. Books you may not have thought to buy, or maybe haven’t even crossed your radar. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is one of those books for me.
This book was a gift to me in more ways than one. I am a romance author and as such I wallow in genre books. I love them. Full on romance novels cheer me, take me away from the everyday, and can even make me forget the top horrifying news story of the day. That means a lot. (I get wound up over news over which I have no control. As a writer I am not alone in this.)
So when I opened The Rosie Project for a quick glance to see if I’d want to read the book before any others, I was thrilled to find myself chuckling out loud by the second paragraph.
The Rosie Project is a love story. But it is not genre in the same sense as romance novels or romantic suspense or historical romances are genre.
The difference for me is in the writing and in the voice of the protagonist.
In 159 words, I was caught by Simsion’s hero, a man so different from any other hero I’ve read that I couldn’t set this book aside for another time. I had to read it right away.
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.
From the first sentence, the author has guaranteed that he may have found a solution to his problem. As a reader and writer of romance I want a guarantee of a happy ending. Was Simsion cognizant of the promise to his reader when he wrote his first line? Hard to say. (There’s a part of me that’s jealous as hell if he was. It took me much longer than my debut novel to figure out the promise to readers on the first page, let alone the first line!)
The protagonist also admits in the first paragraph that he basically stumbled through a series of unscheduled events to find that happy ending. What is that if not a good story?
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.
And this is where I burst into laughter and knew I would have to read this book before anything else in my to-be-read pile. Not only did the author answer a question I didn’t know I’d asked (why the protagonist sounds the way he does) but he goes on to give an example to prove this assertion. Our hero is on the Asperger’s scale.
Also, the reader has also been slyly advised of the world in which our characters live.
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 of disease.
Refusing to deliver the lecture, resulting in damage to my friendship with Gene.
Numbers 1 and 2 on his list of options emphasize how the hero’s mind works. Number 3 is the most distressing of the possible outcomes. If it wasn’t the most distressing, the author wouldn’t have put it at the end of the list where the reader will remember it.
Clearly, while our hero has difficulties in social situations, he cares deeply for his friend and would not want to damage their relationship. Number 3 also reminds us of the Wife Project because our hero wants relationships with other people in general. He wants emotional connection.
Our hero, in spite of his apparent difficulties, wants love. Therefore he is sympathetic and we already care what happens and how it happens to him. We are rooting for our socially awkward, earnest, brilliant hero to find what he most desires: a wife.
We are clearly in for a funny, engaging read that may have a happy ending.
I’m in! Are you?