I’ve always wanted to be part of a book club – one night a month where I can get together with some girlfriends, drink wine, eat nibblies, and talk books. And while we definitely gossip more than we talk books, I can say with a degree of completely biased certainty that the group club we pulled together on a whim through Twitter is the best kind of book club there is.
Aside from the, you know, gossip and wine, one of my favorite things about book club is that it’s opened me up to books I normally wouldn’t read. Our latest pick – The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – is the perfect example of that.
First, a brief synopsis (no spoilers):
Genetics professor Don Tillman is a bit of a strange guy. His awkward social graces, rigid adherence to a schedule, and other quirks haven’t worked much in his favor with the opposite sex, and nearing 40, he finds himself still single. So he sets out on a project to find a wife – a non-smoker who’s always on time and who doesn’t have strong preferences about ice cream. Instead, he meets Rosie, a woman who is incompatible in every logical way – but logic and love don’t always go hand in hand.
I will freely admit this: I didn’t like this book right off the start. I didn’t find the narrator to be “likeable.” Don is abrupt, awkward, picky, particular, and oftentimes infuriating. But it was his unlikeable traits – stemming from his obvious to everyone but himself autism – that made me fall in love with this book within a matter of chapters.
I’ll attribute this to the excellent job Simsion does in characterization. Through Don’s eyes, the reader sees the struggles and triumphs of someone who suffers from aspergers, making the character relatable even as his behavior is alien. And, even more than that, Simsion makes Rosie the perfect foil for Don. She does everything wrong – in Don’s eyes – yet a relationship grows between the two built on unconditional acceptance.
That’s what I liked most about The Rosie Project: in the book, as in any strong relationship, the pair have to learn to accept, rather than change, what is. I may not always love my husband’s foibles (and I can guarantee that Rosie wanted to smack Don a time or two for his), but only once you fully accept someone – quirks and all – can you really love them.
To me, The Rosie Project isn’t really about the setting or the plot. I didn’t even realize the book was set in Australia until I was three-quarters of the way through it, and the plot simply served to allow these characters to come together. (As a fantasy lover, where worldbuilding and epic quests are king, this is a totally foreign approach for me.) To me, this book was a wonderful example of how two flawed people can fall in love, despite their best efforts.
Love like that is certainly no fairy tale, but in The Rosie Project, it comes pretty darn close.