Tag Archives: book group

Romantic comedy with a twist – my review of ‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion

14 Mar

‘The Rosie Project’ is Graeme Simsion’s first novel and it has taken off with a bang, already selling into thirty countries. Simsion has previously written two non-fiction books as well as short stories, plays and screenplays. ‘The Rosie Project’, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award in 2012, was originally a screenplay, written as part of Simsion’s studies at RMIT.

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics. He has some unusual habits – his life is timed to the last minute, he eats exactly the same meals at the same time every week, he is a master of Aikido but has trouble with social situations. While the author never says as much, the reader deduces that Don may have Asperger’s syndrome. Don himself doesn’t recognise this, however. When he gives a lecture on Asperger’s, a friend asks him if the symptoms remind him of anyone he knows and they do – one of the other professors.

When Don decides that he needs a wife, he approaches this task as he does the rest of his life, with efficiency. A questthe-rosie-projectionnaire is what he needs, he decides, ‘to filter out the time wasters, the disorganised, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers…’ Don’s questionnaire for ‘The Wife Project’ is both extensive and discriminating. But then along comes Rosie – a smoker, a barmaid, a vegetarian. She is totally unsuitable, but yet Don can’t seem to stop himself from spending time with her.

Don is a wonderful character, who maintains his consistently original persona throughout. There are many delightful one-liners and a couple of laugh out loud moments due to the gap between Don’s view of the world and that of others. When a woman who is clearly interested in him asks him out for a chat he quizzes her on how he should prepare, ‘What specific topics are you interested in?’ When Rosie says, ‘You want to share a taxi?’ Don reflects that it seemed a sensible use of fossil fuel. And when asked if he has ever had sex, Don confirms that he has, on his doctor’s orders, but then ponders that it might become more complicated when there are two people involved.

Simsion acknowledges the inspiration he has gained from classic romantic comedy movies. ‘Cary Grant would have made a perfect Don,’ he says. This book is funny, witty and intelligent – I finished it with a smile on my face.


Boomerang Books are currently giving away copies of ‘The Rosie Project’ and ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’, enter here

If you happen to be in the vicinity of the Snowy Mountains over Easter, and it is a lovely time in the mountains, do come along and see me talking about romantic comedy and landscapes at the Snowy Mountains Writers Festival. 

And, don’t forget that if your book group would like to do ‘Liar Bird’, I have a special offer for book groups




Secret Women’s Business (Book Groups)

25 Oct

For three years now, my book group has convened once a month. A highlight of our gatherings has been the habit of our leader, Trish, to dress according to the titles chosen – when the mood takes her.

The first year, we had a member with a very dry taste in books. She never actually came to book group, but she chose two earnest tomes, which the rest of us dutifully attempted to wade through. Our Woman in Kabul wasn’t too bad (Trish wore a burqa) but only one of us made it through In Siberia. All I can now recall is that horse meat is widely eaten there. I’m still waiting for an opportunity to use that morsel in a cocktail party conversation.

Kate Holden’s memoir of working as a prostitute led to discussion regarding prostitution in our own coastal town. Who knew that the working girls plied the Coast Road at tradie knock off time? Not me. We also spent some time considering whether girls from private schools were more likely to become drug addicted prostitutes. I don’t remember coming to a resolution on that one.

Last week, our book was I Heard the Owl Call My Name, by Margaret Craven. This moving reflection on life, set in an American Indian village, inspired a smoking ceremony. With sage smoke up our nostrils, we reflected on the value of the simple life and the desirability of living each day as if it might be your last.

Now that’s a conversation you don’t have every Tuesday night.