Don't you just hate when you get part way through a book....picture the characters and their speech patterns, then find out the story takes place in Australia? That's what happened to me while reading "The Rosie Project".
Normally, I would have been aware of such a thing. Usually, I pore over the cover, check out the author's bio and whatever info might be available prior to reading a book. This time, I ordered it on my e-reader (see "New Year, New Toys" January 2 and January 9, 2014).
The book showed up. I started to read unaware of anything more than the description. Although Melbourne was mentioned near the onset, there was no indication that this city was in fact the setting. Nonetheless, it's a book that I enjoyed, can only be described as a romance, a bit different, and easy to read.
I'm sure we've all known someone like the main character Don Tillman. Perhaps he was the "different child" when we went to school. Maybe he was the son of a friend. Perhaps he was our sibling. Nonetheless, we immediately empathize with the character in this novel. He's a genetics professor, thirty nine years old, single, socially awkward, obsessed with detail, extremely literal in understanding, a quick study in some topics, and morally rigid. He sees the world one way. We soon realize that he has issues and for those of us who have had some experience, the term Asperger's comes to mind. Interestingly, he is forced to give a lecture on Asperger's at the beginning of the book. He relates to the children in the audience who have been diagnosed with this syndrome, but fails to recognize similar traits in himself.
Don has three friends each of whom is dysfunctional in his or her own way. One is an elderly lady who develops Alzheimer's and eventually dies. He relates to her on some level and shares a unique bond. When she dies, he admits to feeling loneliness, an odd sensation for him. The other two are a couple, Gene and Claudia. Gene is also a professor, originally responsible for hiring Don in his department. He is a serial philanderer who uses research as an excuse for his affairs. Gene sometimes helps Don solve social problems. His wife is a psychologist with a high tolerance level. Don counts on both of them for support with his eccentricities although he often consults Claudia for specific advice. When Don decides that he wants to be married and creates a questionnaire for potential candidates, he entitles his search "The Wife Project" and goes about finding his perfect match. In his mind, this should work. The questionnaire is specific and describes what he wants, a woman who is pretty much exactly like him.
I found that the pace of the book was good. There was humour and adventure especially toward the middle. When Don headed for Moree a distance in kilometers from Melbourne, I suddenly realized something. He opted to drive rather than swim, so the story had to take place in Australia. I found a few gaps where the information didn't flow as I would have liked. Sometimes, one paragraph would end and another began without any connections. Perhaps it should have been a new chapter. That's the author's style and I got used to it eventually.
As I write this I have discovered that there will be a movie. Of course there will. I wonder whether it will take place in Australia, complete with appropriate "shrimp on the barbie" voices and accents or whether this will be Americanized to appeal to the mass market. I can probably venture a pretty good guess. Looking forward to finding out in 2016.