Caroline Baum: When rights to a debut novel are sold in more than thirty countries, you know a book is generating serious buzz. I am glad to say that this feel-good debut delivers what the hype promises. It’s as light as perfectly baked scone, narrowly avoiding saccharine pitfalls, achieving just the right combo of airiness and substance for the perfect rom-com recipe.
From the moment we meet Don Tillman, professor of genetics, it’s clear we’ve got a special case on our hands. He’s got that awkward slightly aspergers-ish personality that has become so popular with writers of late. Think of him as the grown up version of the boy in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Boy in the Night Time. His very set habits include eating lobster on Tuesdays and wearing daggy quick dry clothes to save time.
Don’s problem (he tells us in his matter of fact deadpan, literal tone) is that he has never been on a second date. With his mathematical brain, he devises a scientifically researched questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Smokers, drinkers and latecomers need not apply.
Except that Rosie is all of these things and more. So how to explain the attraction he feels for a woman who ticks none of the right boxes but presents Don with a compelling scientific quest of her own to find her biological father that presents him with thrillingly unpredictable scenarios?
Irresistibly charming, genuinely funny and cleverly plotted this is intelligent romance for grown ups whose arteries have not hardened with cynicism.
The feel-good hit of 2013, The Rosie Project is a classic screwball romance. Simsion’s book has been sold to 30 different countries and advances have well exceeded $1 million.
Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. Then a chance encounter gives him an idea. He will design a questionnaire—a sixteen-page, scientifically researched document—to find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker or a late-arriver.
Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is strangely beguiling, fiery and intelligent. And she is also on a quest of her own. She’s looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might just be able to help her with—even if he does wear quick-dry clothes and eat lobster every single Tuesday night.
About the Contributor
John Purcell (aka Natasha Walker) is the author of The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy published by Random House Australia. The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings reached the top ten on the Australian fiction charts and Natasha/John was the tenth highest selling Australian novelist and third highest selling Australian debut author in 2012. The trilogy has since sold over 50,000 copies in print and ebook and has been translated into French, Korean and Polish. John has worked in the book industry for over twenty-five years. While still in his twenties he opened John’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop in Mosman in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Now he is the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au.