The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

Paperback, 2014

Call number




Simon & Schuster (2014), 295 pages


Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, sets up a project designed to find him the perfect wife, starting with a questionnaire that has to be adjusted a little as he goes along. Then he meets Rosie, who is everything he's not looking for in a wife, but she ends up his friend as he helps her try and find her biological father.

Media reviews

It’s cheering to read about, and root for, a romantic hero with a developmental disorder. “The Rosie Project,” Simsion’s debut and a best seller in his native Australia, reminds us that people who are neurologically atypical have many of the same concerns as the rest of us: companionship,
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ethics, alcohol.
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2 more
The debut novel of Graeme Simsion, an Australian IT consultant turned writer, The Rosie Project is a romantic comedy with sublime character precision and soppy but gratifying genre fulfilment...It's easily as impressive as in an obvious predecessor, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in
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the Night-Time. Second, The Rosie Project is extremely funny. The reader is in a privileged position, able to see Don's faux pas when he doesn't, but also has a huge amount of affection for the character, whose dispassionate view of illogical social norms is captured with snort-inducing deadpan accuracy. Warmly recommended.
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Whether we become what we are through our genes or through our experiences in life is the old chestnut that this debut novelist tackles with refreshing originality, wit and verve...Filled with engaging specificities of character and setting, the professor's struggle to understand the "fundamental,
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insurmountable problem of who I was" also becomes a poignant universal story about discovering how best to reconcile logic and emotion, head and heart, and connect our lives with others.
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Library's review

If you're in the mood to take an intelligent look at Asperger's and enjoy some clever, laugh out loud funny writing, then this book is for you. (Brian)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
The brilliant but socially inept geneticist, Professor Don Tillman, has exactly two friends, Professor Gene Barrow and his wife, Claudia. Don has absolutely no clue about the nuances of language or social interaction; it is likely he has Asperger’s. When he decides he wants to marry, he devises a
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thirty-two page questionnaire to be completed by prospective “candidates.” Enter The Wife Project:

“A questionnaire! Such an obvious solution. A purpose-built, scientifically valid instrument incorporating current best practice to filter out the time wasters, the disorganised, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers, the crystal gazers, the horoscope readers, the fashion obsessives, the religious fanatics, the vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths, leaving, ideally, the perfect partner, or, realistically, a manageable shortlist of candidates.” (Ch 2)

And then enter Rosie, a barmaid, who is on a mission to find her biological father, and whose personality blows the lid clean off of Don’s questionnaire as well as the rest of his life. Hilarity ensues as The Rosie Project is born.

Admittedly, this one was not even on my radar when a friend passed it on recently and recommended a light, funny, charming summer read. She was right!
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LibraryThing member ctpress
Hilariously funny. You sit and smile and giggle all the way through this wonderful imaginative romantic comedy. I will not soon forget the genetics professor Don Tillman with serious asperger’s tendencies. What a character.

His whole life is ordered and timetabled to the minute. No deviations
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from normal routines. When it comes to social relations and dating he’s completely clueless. Doing and saying the most embarressing and unconventional things.

When he meets Rosie - his complete opposite - very funny things starts to happen. She’s looking for her real father - and well, he happens to have access to a dna-laboratory so they start taking dna-samples from men that she thinks could be her father.

It’s going to be a long learning-experience for our dear Professor Tillman. And it will take a lot of personal changes if he’s ever going to make new friends - and even attract Rosie - although that’s a longshot.

I read it with the same pleasure I read Wodehouse. It’s all silly, care-free and you know that it will all end up nice and tidy. Perfect relaxed, refreshing summer read.
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LibraryThing member whitreidtan
People have been raving about Graeme Simsion's book, The Rosie Project, almost since it hit the shelves last year. They've used words like heartwarming and sweet and lovely. And it did sound good but with that level of buzz, it made me very leery. Because I have a rather poor track record with
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books that make everyone else glow. But in the end, there was no resisting it and people weren't wrong, so let me add my voice to the glowing reviews because I loved this and it was in fact just as heartwarming, sweet, and lovely as promised.

Don Tillman is a brilliant genetics professor. He doesn't have a lot of friends; in fact, he has only two. He is not only uncomfortable in social situations, but he doesn't understand the nuances of social interaction at all. His world is completely scheduled and quite rigid and he's very particular. It's never stated explicitly but it is certainly implied that Don has Asperger's. So when Don decides that he would really like companionship, leaving it to chance really won't work for him, at all. Enter The Wife Project. Don creates a thorough questionnaire to weed through the women who do not fit his criteria and therefore have no hope of potentially being "the one" for him. And amazingly enough, women actually fill out the questionnaire. But there's not a single match in the bunch so Don passes the results off to one of his two friends, a fellow professor who has an open marriage and a very roving eye, asking Gene to look over the choices again and see if Don has missed anything.

Almost immediately a young woman named Rosie shows up at his office and Don assumes that she is someone who Gene has sent to him for consideration. Rosie has a favor to ask of Don. She wants him to help her find her biological father, having known for years that her mother had a fling one night with a fellow medical student that resulted in her birth. Rosie's relationship with Phil, the man who raised her, has long been unhappy so she's searching for her "real" father. Don agrees to help Rosie with The Father Project, using the university's genetics lab to test illicit DNA samples. Meanwhile Rosie actually has zero knowledge of The Wife Project.

As the two work together, Don knows immediately that Rosie fails The Wife Project on many fronts so she cannot be his future partner. Rosie has no desire whatsoever to even be considered for The Wife Project, But in the short term, the two of them enjoy spending time together and have fun with each other. Rosie accepts Don with all of his quirks and ticks and without trying to change him. She does teach him to broaden his world a bit though, showing him the danger of assumptions and pre-conceived ideas, pushing him just enough without touching the core of who he is. Don has a very cerebral way of looking at the very black and white world he inhabits so it is charming to watch him struggle with understanding the very grey area of the heart and its emotions in both his own life and in that of his few friends.

This is a lighthearted, feel-good look at love, normalcy, social expectations, and accepting someone for him or herself. It has an affectionate feel to it as the reader roots for Don, who is not your everyday romantic hero and clearly has much to overcome before he can have a successful relationship. Don thinks that genes determine a person but learns that genetics are not all that people are. Both Don and Rosie are characters with whom the reader will enjoy spending time. They are funny, sometimes unintentionally, and charming and while the story might come to its expected conclusion, getting to that place is a real joy.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
This book was really hyped up for me. And while it was good, it wasn't that good. It was fast paced, funny, and inventive, but... I wasn't sold on all the characters. Particularly Rosie.

Th story is centered on Don Tillman. A brilliant, yet... intense genetics professor(imagine Sheldon from the Big
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Bang Theory) . Things have to be orderly, schedules have to be adhered to, and standards have to be met. Don decides that the time is right to find a wife, but in order to find the perfect mate he needs to set rules. Thus begins "The Wife Project." He makes a questionnaire to easily weed out the women who smoke, drink, aren't good at math, have bad BMI's, aren't on time, etc. The only problem is, will Don ever find someone who meets all the criteria?

Along comes Rosie, an attractive, smart, and funny girl. The only problem is, she doesn't fulfill all of his requirements, she failed three questions. Why is Don enjoying himself around her when she has proven to be an unsuitable candidate? Hilarity ensues.

A fast, fun read.
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LibraryThing member hjvanderklis
Don Tillman is a handsome thirty-nine old geneticist with a savant memory and a giant lack of social skills. Helped by Gene and Julia this highly autistic kicks off the Wife Project with a lengthy questionnaire for each candidate, who surely will fail to meet all the requirements that Don put on
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the ideal woman. Not aware of dating, abandon habits and strict schemes like a weekly meal roster, this The Big Bang Theory in overdrive mode dismisses countless candidates until Gene throws in a wildcard, Rosie Jarman, the one Don is absolutely not looking for. Rosie is looking for her biological father, and so The Father Project is born. A perfect track for a geneticist, although initiation in dealing with a woman also leads to transgress ethical and moral boundaries, putting his career and future in danger.

The Rosie Project is a powerful, funny and readable story of how love finds you and even the most insensitive men can turn into human beings capable of receiving and giving love. The Father Project and The Rosie Project have their twists, halts and ultimate happy endings.
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LibraryThing member julia.flyte
It's no surprise to read that this novel started life as a screenplay (still unfilmed). It's a romcom gem, light hearted and occasionally laugh out loud funny - a heartwarming romance between two mismatched individuals.

The narrator, Don, is a genetics professor who as he puts it is "wired
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differently". While no specific diagnosis is offered, he has many characteristics commonly associated with Asperger's. Don is in his late 30s and has never been married. He develops a sixteen-page questionnaire in a bid to identify his ideal match. Among the requirements are that she loves maths, is a non-smoker, doesn't drink, is strictly punctual and enjoys a varied diet. Into his life comes Rosie, a beautiful lady with her own hangups who meets precisely none of his criteria (Think Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook [DVD]). Rosie needs help finding her genetic father and Don agrees to assist her. It's a romcom - of course you know what's going to happen! - but it comes together in an original and very funny way. Along the way Don will discover new talents, from the trivial (mastering the instructions for every cocktail known to man) to the profound (learning to discern sub-texts in conversations).

It took me a little while to get into this book. Initially I felt that Don's personality "issues" were overdone and that the same jokes were being rehashed. However as Rosie becomes a central character, it really takes off. This book made me laugh out loud (which hardly ever happens) and it made me smile. It's a delight.
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LibraryThing member AStevePowers
When this book first arrived I was concerned that it would disrupt my carefully constructed schedule, but after assessing all the facts I have come to the conclusion that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I would advise anyone approaching this book to put aside your prejudices as they will be
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confounded in a variety of ways. “The Rosie Project” is a wonderfully witty and warm look at human interaction in its many forms, from the point of view of Don Tillman, a genetic scientist who is coping with his neuroses by fitting his life into a rigid schedule - until he makes the decision to try and find himself a life partner. Approaching the task with an obsessive thoroughness, he decides that the best way to do so is by drawing up a questionnaire to ensure that he wastes no time with unsuitable applicants. In the best traditions of the screwball comedies, his plans are diverted when his best friend sends Rosie to see him. Rosie is the complete antithesis of his desired life partner, and succeeds in causing chaos when she and Don get involved in a project to find her “real” father. The journey that both of them embark upon brings Don to question his assumptions about the world he inhabits and inspires him to a journey of personal growth in which he unwittingly causes those about him to grow with him.

This book manages to pull off a very difficult balancing act in that it deals with a mental condition in a warm and sympathetic manner, and in telling the story from Don’s viewpoint allows us to see his world as he sees it, and to understand just why he finds social interaction so puzzling - and I’m sure most men reading it will have some sympathy with his inability to pick up on signals from the women he interacts with. (There were moments that brought back embarrassing memories for me!). His personal journey will have you laughing out loud, cringing in sympathy and cheering him on, as well as giving you a greater understanding of the problems faced by people with his condition, as it will allow you to see just how strange a lot of our social conventions really are. Don’s struggle to understand by approaching every problem as if it could be solved using pure reason does give some of the funniest moments in the book. (I will never look at a skeleton the same way).

The pacing and rhythm of the book is engaging, as you do find yourself being dragged in to the story - at first to see what Don’s next faux pas will be, but soon to see just where the story is going. There are red herrings by the cran as the Father project unfolds, along with Don encountering his share of disasters - and triumphs! Graeme Simsion achieves the notable feat of making you care about someone who would, at the start of this book, consider himself unloveable.

In summary, although I wouldn’t normally read “Romantic Comedy”, this is one of those rare books where to categorise it as such would be to do it a disservice, as it is so much more than that. In the choice of protagonist it will probably draw comparisons to Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, but that would be like comparing Captain Ahab to Long John Silver, purely on the basis that they were both unipeds. I would say that Don Tillman was more akin to Melvin Udall in “As Good As It Gets” and Don even draws that comparison himself. The strange thing is that despite his handicaps, Don is a very appealing character and his journey is enthralling and it’s resolution will leave you smiling - and wanting to hear more from him, and from this author!
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LibraryThing member Schatje
This is another book I read only because it was chosen by my library book club. Fluff! It’s described as a romantic comedy and I have enough problems with that formulaic genre, but then the book goes further and has little romance and even less comedy.

Don Tillman is a 39-year-old geneticist with
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(undiagnosed) Asperger’s. He devises a plan to find himself a wife. While involved with this project, he meets Rosie who enlists his genetic expertise to help her identify her biological father. Of course, Rosie and Don develop an unlikely relationship.

Lovers of romantic comedy are obviously the ones writing the rave reviews. The book certainly has all the elements of the genre: the seemingly ill-suited couple who insist they have a just-friends relationship which inevitably develops into something more, the prevalence of chance and coincidence, the predictable plot, the comic set-pieces, the moments of less-than-profound epiphanies, and the love-conquers-all theme. And there’s a sequel which will undoubtedly continue to use the formula.

Some people rave about Don and how he is a unique character. Countless examples of Don can be found in popular culture. Don has been around in the guise of Shel(Don) Cooper on The Big Bang Theory since 2007. How about characters on Bones and Criminal Minds? And all of Don’s musings about love and logic are certainly reminiscent of Mr. Spock on Star Trek. In terms of books, what about The Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime?

But for me it is not just a lack of originality in character that is the problem; Don is not realistic as someone with an autism spectrum disorder. He possesses every attribute of an Aspie? Then, after decades of rigid behaviour, he is able to change? In a very short period of time he abandons his scheduling and learns to read facial expressions and social cues?! An autistic person is not someone with a “normal” personality trapped inside, a personality that can be released by the love of another.

The author seems to want people to realize that people’s differences should be appreciated and accepted; those who demonstrate “variations in human brain function” and do not fit “constructed social norms” (6) should not be ridiculed and shunned. Yet at the same time, the author expects readers to laugh at Don and his inability to function in social situations?! We are supposed to believe that just because Don is accustomed to ridicule and rejection, he doesn’t suffer when others laugh at him? Surely no reader believes Don is not capable of love so why would he/she believe he is not capable of feeling hurt? Why not show the ridiculousness of societal “norms”?

This book is the type which will appeal to readers who want pure escapism. I found it barely entertaining and certainly not memorable.
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
Don is a college genetics professor who wants to find a wife. Given his love of data and logical thinking, he designs a questionnaire to identify suitable mates and begins the Wife Project. His friend Gene, who is much more socially savvy than Don, agrees to help him screen the candidates, but Don
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begins to doubt Gene's competence for the task when Gene sends him Rosie. Rosie is definitely not wife material. She meets almost none of his criterion, but while he's waiting for a suitable prospect, he agrees to help her find her biological father. As they work together, Don learns a lot about himself and about love.

This is a charming story. Don has a distinct way of looking at the world that is often humorous. Simsion treats Don's lack of self-awareness with a light touch. In fact, while all of the characters have their faults, Simsion seems to love and understand each one, making me care about each one as well. There are twists and turns that drive the action forward, and I was rooting for Don and Rosie every step of the way.

I just learned that there is a sequel to this book coming out in late December 2014. I will look forward to visiting Don and Rosie again!
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LibraryThing member StefanieGeeks
I LOVED this book! If you watch the Big Bang Theory, it's like 40-year-old Sheldon decided to look for a wife. How would that go? It's hilarious, enduring, and just an all around pleasurable read. I'm so excited that a sequel is being released in Australia later this year!
LibraryThing member msf59
"Asperger's isn't a fault. It's a variant. It's potentially a major advantage.”

Don Tillman is a genetics professor. He is handsome and brilliant. He is also socially awkward, fastidious and unreasonably demanding. He has had zero luck with the opposite sex and nearing forty, comes up with “The
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Wife Project”: a questionnaire, to assist him in finding the perfect mate. Of course, he is confident, that this ploy will work.

Enter, Rosie! A smart, young, sassy redhead, who is everything Don is NOT looking for. She is about to turn Don’s insulated, structured little world, upside down.

This is a charmer. Filled with humor and romance. The theme is light but it is fast-paced, solidly written, with a fresh Melbourne setting. I dare you not to smile.
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LibraryThing member DebbieMcCauley
Socially inept but quietly amazing professor of genetics Don Tillman has never been on a second date, but is on a quest to find the perfect partner using science-based methods. Barmaid Rosie Jarman is on her own quest to locate her biological father and seeks help from Don whose Wife Project is put
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on hold while he pursues the Father Project. Hilarious - the funniest thing I've read for quite a while.
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LibraryThing member froxgirl
Finally - Dude (not chick) Lit! Just as light and just as much guilty pleasure. Even the cover looks like an episode of the Mike Douglas Show from the '60s (I know, I date myself). This is the story of a man searching for a woman who meets all his requirements and finding one who meets none. Told
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from the perspective of an obsessive-compulsive professor, it unwinds very well and provides hours of non-stop amusement. There's a decent surprise at the end. I can see the movie coming soon to a theatre near you. Fine recommendation from one of my "Book Talkin" group from the Wilmington Memorial Library. Great fun!
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LibraryThing member Fliss88
I could have read this book for ever. The main character Don Tillman, is one of those classic characters who jump out of the pages and make themselves part of your life. I loved the style of writing, it was honest and so perfectly in keeping with the character….BRILLIANT.
LibraryThing member nbmars
This book is delightful.

The story is narrated by 39-year-old Don Tillman, a genetics professor in Melbourne, Australia who has Asperger’s syndrome. Right away Don establishes that Asperger’s should not be considered a “negative” - on the contrary, those who have Asperger’s just have
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differently configured brains:

"It’s a variant. It’s potentially a major advantage. Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking, and rational detachment.”

But most of the time, Don isn’t talking about the syndrome, he is evincing it. He decides he needs a partner, and embarks on The Wife Project, making up a questionnaire for potential mates. He hopes in this way to eliminate:

"…the time wasters, the disorganized, the ice-cream discriminators, the visual-harassment complainers, the crystal gazers, the horoscope readers, the fashion obsessives, the religious fanatics, the vegans, the sports watchers, the creationists, the smokers, the scientifically illiterate, the homeopaths, leaving, ideally, the perfect partner or, realistically, a manageable short list of candidates.”

His criteria are fairly strict, however, and he doesn’t get many satisfactory responses, in spite of helpful input from his only two friends, his colleague Gene and Gene’s wife Claudia. Don ends up devoting his time instead to The Father Project - a quest by one of Don’s students, Rosie Jarman, to find out who her real father is. Since genetics is Don’s field, the project intrigues him. Certainly not Rosie herself - “the world’s most incompatible woman” and totally unsuitable as a partner according to Don’s criteria - and yet, he becomes irrationally committed to The Father Project, and maybe to Rosie as well.

Evaluation: Don’s literal-mindedness makes many of his thoughts and actions very, very funny, but the reader isn’t laughing at this very lovable protagonist, but with him, hoping he will beat the odds and find love, in spite of his devotion to rational systems. I certainly fell in love with him, and his story, right from the beginning.

Note: The book has been optioned for a movie by Sony Pictures, and there is a sequel on the way.
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LibraryThing member MaureenCean
This was just a wonderfully entertaining book. I can't say if the portrayal of Don as a high functioning person with Asperger's is completely accurate in terms of his inner thought processes and ability to make changes and accommodations, in fact I have some questions, but I don't care at all. This
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is a great comedy, but infused with pathos (compassion, not pity). And God bless happy endings.
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LibraryThing member LisaSmith
It's the feel good read of the year.
LibraryThing member plaeski
This was one of the most engaging, heart warming books I've ever read. I love when a book ends and I just feel warm and fluffy inside.
LibraryThing member Cynara
Feather-light, but funny, very readable, and a pitch-perfect portrayal of a guy on the Autism spectrum. It smooths some rough corners here and there, but what a fun read.
LibraryThing member triscuit
Classic super-smart-but-only-in-his-subject-guy tries to find love using a formula. Luckily for us, he's also kind of endearing and the author writes a fast paced story with good character development. After a long spell of not finishing novels, this got me back in the game.
LibraryThing member cbl_tn
Don Tillman is a 30-something genetics professor at an Australian university. He also has Asperger syndrome. (It wasn't clear to me if he is aware that he has Aspergers, although he is aware that social perception is a problem for him.) His only friend is Gene, a psychology professor at the same
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university, and Gene's wife and children. Don believes that it will be almost impossible for him to marry given his social shortcomings, and he seems to have accepted this until he gets the idea for what he calls the Wife Project. He will design a questionnaire that will help him locate a woman who is ideally suited for him. Womanizer Gene takes a great interest in Don's Wife Project and sends him a wild card candidate – a woman who is practically the opposite of Don's ideal partner. Rosie is looking for her biological father. The candidates are limited to her mother's medical school classmates. It isn't long before the Wife Project takes a back seat to the Father Project, and Don is finding more and more excuses to see Rosie again.

This romantic comedy is as much about friendship and relationships as about romance. I listened to the audio version, and the laugh-out-loud scenes made it difficult to listen to in public. There is lots of humor, but it's not at Don's expense. It reminded me of the kind of humor in my favorite TV series, Monk, with its OCD main character. I thought it was easy to assume where the plot was heading, but there was a twist toward the end that took me by surprise. I can easily imagine this as a film, so it's not surprising that the film rights have already been optioned.
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LibraryThing member Lynsey2
Recommended if you need a funny, light hearted read. I chuckled my way through this. Despite it's cliche, made for a movie ending, the fun I had getting to the ending was well worth it.
LibraryThing member coolmama
Simply adorable, quick read. Aspie Asst Prof Don Tillman, geneticist, is quirky and odd. He meets PhD student Rosie who throws his life into disarray. Really lovely and well developed characters and a much enjoyed read.
LibraryThing member MrsWorms
I found this to be quite a delightful novel told from a unique point of view.
LibraryThing member MarysGirl
A fun, clever book about a brilliant man on the autistic spectrum's quest to find the perfect mate. Loved the way the author exploits the "stranger in a strange land" trope for laughs and poignancy. Don the protagonist is a hero in all ways and shines a light on the complexities and, sometimes,
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idiocies of the male/female relationship.
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Dublin Literary Award (Longlist — 2015)
RUSA CODES Reading List (Shortlist — Romance — 2014)
Waverton Good Read Award (Shortlist — 2013)
Australian Book Industry Awards (Shortlist — General Fiction — 2014)
The Indie Book Award (Longlist — 2014)




1476729093 / 9781476729091
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