The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion – Parents, friends and children in a contemporary comedy of life

The Rosie Result


The third book in a highly successful series, this novel records the efforts of Don Tillman to cope with life. It follows “The Rosie Project” and “The Rosie Effect” in recording his great life events, but also tracing his development from a younger man who struggled with everyday social interactions, and had a tendency to use his brain power to overcome and solve problems. This novel revolves around Don and Rosie’s son, Hudson, and his struggles to cope with school, friendship and life generally. Following the Genetics Lecture Outrage incident, Don decides to take the lead in sorting out his son’s issues, as various teacher’s at the School demand that the boy take a test for autism. This raises all sorts of memories for Don, as in his school career he had been perceived as different and had constructed all sorts of coping strategies. As Don and Hudson hit difficulties, Rosie has problems with being the only woman in her department of research, and various family and friends have to work out their own difficulties. 


This book probably works as a standalone book, as it gives a lot of background to Don’s past mistakes and victories, and each friend is introduced with small insights into their connection with the family. It is in some ways a comedy, a book that looks at the friendship bonds that change lives, and how being different actually feels. It illustrates the small and large problems of life and love in a person’s life, as we hear Don’s voice throughout, continually assessing and reasoning. A genuinely entertaining and uplifting book, it looks at the joys and trials of being different in a lively and vivid way.   


The book begins several years after the end of The Rosie Effect, with the family living in New York. When Rosie is offered a research position in Melbourne, Australia, Don is happy to go with her, but Hudson states clearly “No. I don’t want to go to Australia. I don’t want to change schools. I don’t want to change anything”. Despite their own problems, Rosie and Don decide that he should give up his job which was threatened anyway and concentrate on the Hudson Adjustment Project. He tackles various teachers, and makes it possible for Hudson to spend time with his apparently sole friend, Blanche, who has a sight problem. In time, various friends and relatives are joined into the effort to help Hudson with various tasks and skills, even though they may well have difficulties of their own.


This is a contemporary book which has much to say about differences which can trouble individuals. It explores some of the difficulties and the problems of “solving” them, by medical intervention or otherwise. The various characters in the novel all have their backstories, and each is well drawn, even if they do not play a significant part in the story. There are running throw away jokes, such as that the Porsche car that Don drives is always requiring work from Phil who always passing on mild criticisms to Rosie. This book is uplifting and encouraging, taking a positive look at the differences that some people handle in different ways, the labels that they cope with and the assumptions that others make. I recommend it as a happy read in most ways, despite a few sad episodes, and that it has a lot to say in a positive and humorous tone.   


This is a really interesting book, with some memorable characters. In the midst of the comedy there are some really interesting comments on autism and other elements of personalities. All three novels, I hope, will open discussion on the differences some people live with and attain so much. Certainly the first book did in our book group. As our book group cannot meet at the moment I have been putting a review of the book and some questions into the church magazines and on the website. So far I have done “Mr Rosenblum’s List” by Natasha Solomons and “Old Baggage” by Lissa Evans. We were not due to meet in June, so there will be a gap before the next one…  

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – Don makes discoveries in New York with unintended consequences


The Rosie Effect (The Rosie Project Series): Simsion ...


This is a comedy featuring Don Tillman and his struggles to maintain a rational life in the face of a world that he does not quite understand. He first appeared in “The Rosie Project”, when the Australian scientist realised that he had never really got beyond a first date with any woman, so he designs a questionnaire that will pick out the few women who will fulfill his requirements. He accidentally ends up with Rosie, with whom he has travelled to New York city to follow his academic career, while she finishes her medical training. This second book in the series is a standalone book in that the reader can soon pick up the idea that Don has many abilities, but still really struggles to understand social norms and other people’s expectations. In this book Don’s struggle to be accepted by friends and colleagues is one battle he must face with very funny consequences; his main battle will be to maintain his relationship with the only woman he has ever loved. 


This very humourous book does not mean laughing at Don, it carefully illustrates that the situations that he gets into are very funny. Rosie and Don have found an apartment, but soon they must move to a bigger and cheaper place. Happily Don has met George, a drummer in a band popular many years before, and for complicated reasons Don arranges to move into the apartment below George’s with a certain purpose. He has also encountered Dave, who is married to Sonia, and when his best friend Gene arrives at the breakup of his marriage in Australia, Don has a friendship group as never before. Rosie has a surprise for him, and in his confusion and desperate need to help, he makes a mistake which brings him to the attention of the authorities. In typical Don fashion, he tries to discover the best way out of his difficulties without explaining everything to Rosie, who finds herself already confused by the demands of her studies and her future. A farcical situation develops, which involves assumptions made by other people and reaching the wrong conclusions. Can Don’s relationships survive revelations of the truth to so many, especially with Rosie? 


This is a book is written with great sensitivity of a different mindset. Don narrates the novel himself, and says “Now I – a physical scientist hardwired to understand logic and ideas ahead of interpersonal dynamics”, a piece of self knowledge which means that he is extremely able as a scientist, but struggles to understand the nuances of human behaviour. So he knows that he must gain knowledge of what is going on in people’s lives, but fails to understand what they actually do and why they take the actions they choose. It is a lighthearted book in many ways, but underneath there is the tension that everything could go wrong for Don, and that he cannot quite understand his priorities. The dialogue is amusing and some of Don’s discoveries are funny, but it is gently written with a view to show the sadness which he feels at times in coping with a world that he struggles to fully understand despite his ability to acquire facts and retain them to everyone’s benefit. This is an entertaining book with  gentle humour and offering a slightly different world view which is very engaging.   


This is the sort of book which is very engaging at the moment, easy to read and offering genuine entertainment. We looked at “The Rosie Project” in our book club recently (I reviewed it on this site in 2013) and it was generally well received. Don and indeed some of the other characters are so well drawn as to be fascinating, and I am looking forward to reading the third in the series which I managed to acquire some months ago. My book stocks are holding up!

Us – David Nicholls

I think I enjoyed this novel. I think I managed to follow the story, the art and the angst. I think I had some sympathy with the main character, Douglas. But,  frankly, there was too much thought in this book. Too much of Douglas pondering life the universe and everything.  I’m not terrifically surprised that his wife despairs of him and his son isn’t too keen either.

I suppose it is a strength of the writing of this book which describes a trip round Europe interspersed with recollections of a life that the main characters are strong enough to have feelings about. Except that there is the danger that we hear so much about what Douglas is thinking and feeling that the other characters are just there to react to him. I realise that the weakness of first person narrative is that we get to hear a lot about what that character perceives but precious little about what is really going on for the other characters in the book. Here that becomes annoying, as Connie ( Douglas’ wife) is described but never really comes to life for me. She is meant to be the bohemian artist – type, who gives up her lifestyle for the rather boring, rather over organised Douglas. I know that opposites are meant to attract, and Douglas is as surprised as anyone when she adopts the more conventional lifestyle, but I’m not convinced.

The scenery of this book is meant to be splendid, and it does seem to describe the reality of the “Grand Tour ” in the twenty – first century, with trains and plains meaning that I was not always sure where the action is meant to be taking place. We are treated to descriptions of some low spots as well as the famous attractions with attendant queues. There is a lot about art here, the great paintings of Europe in both the guidebook and evoking reactions way, but I was left a bit bemused. Was that meant to anchor the action, or give the reader chance to agree with the reaction. Either way, I’m not sure if they added greatly to the overall narrative.

The story in this novel is not as strong as in its predecessor, One Day . In that book there was a welcome shift in focus, an interesting contrast of perspective.  This book is a good read, but it is so much through one character’s eyes that I think it does not quite live up to its promise. Maybe that is more realistic, but it is definitely limiting.  Possibly it is a more “male” directed book, which I do not mean to be critical in any way, and I am not suggesting that there are men and women’s books and never the twain shall meet. I just feel that my sympathies were not engaged in the same way as if this book was less relentlessly from one point of view. The narrator does have moments when he realises how he must appear to his nearest and dearest, but that does not change how he behaves or (over)reacts.

I was continually reminded of two other books written from a similar perspective, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion. These feature first person narration, unlikely relationships, and extremes of behaviour (as well as much foreign travel) . Curiously I enjoyed these books more, partly because they were more extreme, funny and just less self aware. I know it’s not fair to compare these books in many ways, and Us is a very, very good book. I would undoubtedly recommend it, but with a slight warning that it is not the most optimistic book that you could read this summer.

The Rosie Project – a great Summer read

Well, You can’t say I don’t offer variety here! One thing I like about not reading for a course or job at the moment is that I can read whatever I like, though it makes life easier if I manage the Bookworms’ choices every month!

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion  is not the usual type of book I would pick up to read by choice. Set in contemporary Australia, dealing with a male academic with romantic and life problems, this is an unusual comedy, but with some realistic and sad events. Don is a Genetics Professor, who, as he realises, has a “differently wired brain”. I’m not sure what diagnosis  the author would give to his main character, but it soon emerges that while Don has some difficulty with everyday life, managing emotions and just understanding what is going on for other people, the other characters in the book do not exactly behave predictably as well. 

Don decides to conduct a scientific search for a wife based on a questionnaire which he believes will guarantee that he only has to spend time on the most compatible woman he can encounter. It emerges that he has very few friends who can advise him, and more people who quickly become exasperated by him. He is nevertheless thoughtful and loyal, especially to Daphne. By chance he encounters the unusual character of  Rosie, who is strong enough to present alternatives to him, encourage spontaneity, and presents a whole new way of life to him via a project to find her father. This involves Don in a whole host of new activities, including cocktail making, wall climbing and discovering that what motivates people can be tricky to understand, but a lot more satisfying than routine.

This book, according to the acknowledgements, was developed in part through film and dialogue workshops. There are references to When Harry Met Sally and other films including my all time favourite, Casablanca.

This book is so obviously set up to be filmed that I am surprised that the details are not on the dust jacket!  The other similarity is to the very funny comedy which again I am unusually keen on: The Big Ban Theory

And I am quite keen on this series; I even have the calender  on the kitchen wall…

So, to get back to the book. I enjoyed this book as a quick, fairly light read. It deals with the  big questions of identity, what makes people behave in certain ways, and the nature of “normal”. It has science, romance and comedy, as well as martial arts, music and dancing. For all those finishing exams, it is ideal relaxing reading with some interesting ideas, and for the rest of us, a cheerful book about life, the universe and everything.