Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
When packing to move to Norway I allowed myself to bring only the novels and travel books that I haven’t read and couldn’t easily borrow. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was a gift from a dear friend and I had been saving it. It was one of the chosen few books that made the journey.
When Rosie visited Don’s apartment for the first time she asked him why he didn’t have any pictures on the walls. Don replied :
Because after a while I would stop noticing then. The human brain is wired to focus on differences in its environment – so it can rapidly discern a predator. If I installed pictures or other decorative objects, I would notice them for a few days and then my brain would ignore them. If I want to see art, I go to the gallery. The paintings there are of higher quality, and the total expenditure over time is less than the purchase price of cheap posters.
I’ve seen the book in airport bookshops around the world and now I know why it’s so popular. It’s funny and engaging and interesting and the protagonist is likeable! I returned to Trondheim from our family summer holiday before my family and had one wonderful evening lying in the sunshine on the soft grass outside our house, reading without interruption. I was 2/3 of the way through the book (hard cover edition) when I left Trondheim for a work trip to Kuwait last week. I didn’t carry the book with me and found my thoughts turn to it several times, reflecting with pleasure and anticipating what was to come.
Don lacks empathy, dresses in utilitarian outdoor clothing, speaks his thoughts regardless of the impact on others, schedules his life to the 10 minute level and has only 2 friends. I haven’t enjoyed a protagonist as much as Don in years of reading great books!
Working as a professor of genetics, Don controls his life and essentially every week is the same as the week before. Everything turns upside down when Don embarks on a Wife Project (to methodically find a compatible life partner) and soon afterwards meets Rosie.
Gene is Don’s closest friend. He is an ageing Cassanova who is trying to have sex with at least one woman from every country and is seen as a jerk by everyone around him. Claudia is a psychologist who advises Don and can no longer bear Gene’s philandering. Rosie is mixed up, rebelling and slightly unstable.
I need not be visibly odd. I could engage in the protocols that others followed and move undetected among them. And how could I be sure that other people were not doing the same – playing the game to be accepted but suspecting all the time that they were different?
Simsion’s writing style is engaging and clear. He uses just the right amount of description to at a scene. He developed Don’s character and flawlessly stuck to it throughout the book. I thoroughly recommend this book.