The hilariously and self-confessed 'socially inept' character of Don Tillman is loved by millions of readers, though I wouldn't want to date him.
Believing that "poor synchronization is a waste of time," (p.4), Don, a geneticist, lives a fastidiously ordered life, his activities planned to the last minute.
That is, until he begins looking for a wife. Things go quickly haywire for Don when, after writing up a questionnaire to find the perfect partner, he unwittingly falls for Rosie - who fits none of the criteria.
So begins a downward - or is it upward? - spiral for Don.
The Sheldon-like character (Big Bang Theory) of Tillman has a precisely scientific outlook on life that rapidly descends into unconventional behaviour: rule-breaking, deception, stealing (DNA) and even a dine-and-dash! All for the sake of 'The Father Project' - which Don eventually realizes is an unconscious excuse to spend time with Rosie.
I laughed a lot while reading The Rosie Project, which I had to get in large print as everyone else in Christchurch is reading it. Simsion sends up Don's formal way of communicating with humour and his foibles with sympathy. I empathised with Tillman's attempts to assimilate into more socially acceptable ways of being. I can certainly relate to this one:
Restaurants are minefields for the socially inept.
Surprisingly, a lot of the action in these books takes place in restaurants.
I've just finished listening to the Talking Book of The Rosie Effect; again so popular that this was the only format available. I recommend a different format - audiobooks are great to listen to if you are moving around the house (and I'm getting to the point that I need progressive lenses!).
The Rosie Effect begins uproariously as Don describes the effect of marrying Rosie on his living arrangements.
Now living in New York, the couple can only afford a cramped apartment, messed up by Rosie's random living habits - decaying dairy foods in the fridge, for example.
The couple enjoy a great mix of work, study and cocktails (they both work in a bar) when they're thrown a curve ball : Rosie is pregnant - and it was unscheduled!
Don's reaction to the news is predictable: meltdown. Of course the result is random - he takes off in the lift, needing to be alone, only to end up in the laundry basement, face to face with an angry neighbour who thinks he wants to fight! Luckily Don knows aikido..
Don's superiority complex while preparing for the birth of his first child, paired with a lack of social expertise leads him into many other confrontations in this installment, finally affecting Rosie's confidence in their marriage and his forthcoming role as father.
There's a great scene in which Rosie insists on a glass of wine, while Don, who has already watered it down, eyeballs her until she opts for the orange juice.
Rosie has issues too. Will she manage to work them through, or will she give up on Don?
I'm waiting for the final book in this hilariously real trilogy, The Rosie Result. The Result being, of course, a very clever and slightly socially inept son.
In this last offering, the Rosie cycle comes full circle (do you see what I did there? - cycle - Don was known to bicycle everywhere in book one) as Don, Rosie and Hudson return to their native Australia. They enlist the help of familiar characters to help their son overcome his inherited social problems, compounded for all as they have lived in New York for ten years. I can't wait to read of the pitfalls and pinnacles they reach in the last installment.
Lastly, I thought I'd mention Graeme Simsion's other books, written in the interim before the last Rosie installment.
This clever title denotes a musical premise. Piano player has fling, then settles down to a nice, practical job in IT, but can't quite shake of the 'ear worm' of that long ago romance. When Angelina makes contact, will Adam throw the caution of his quiet life to the wind?
Two Steps Forward has been recommended to me by more than one person. Written with Simsion's spouse, Anne Buist, it's a tale of two people trying to find themselves by taking the two thousand mile pilgrimage from France to Spain; the Camino de Santiago, or The Way.
Come along to WORD Christchurch to see what makes Graeme Simsion tick. I'm looking forward to lots of LOLs.