Book Club 8: The Rosie Project by Don Tillman

I am a sucker for a RomCom. There’s something about their familiar feel-good factor that I just love and can’t stop watching. But, I don’t really ever read Romantic Comedies. I’m not sure why. I think it’s perhaps something to do with an internalised stigma that they’re somehow less worthwhile than “more serious” fiction. I know they’re not, and yet something has held me back from really getting into them.

That was until I chose Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project as my holiday read last month. I knew I wanted something easy and fun, and I thought, after reading glowing review after glowing review, I thought The Rosie Project would be the perfect pick and it really was. I had such a good time reading it, and honestly, it felt so good just to be sucked into a story and get to revel in an upbeat love story.

This month’s cover redesign takes inspiration from Don’s relationship with ice cream (and relationships)

The Rosie Project is the story of “a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, [Don Tillman], who’s decided it’s time he found a wife”. So, he decides to apply logic to the problem and designs what he calls ‘The Wife Project’, a survey to find his ideal woman by filtering out the smokers, the heavy drinkers, the late arrivers, and those with any dietary requirements. Surprisingly, he runs into a couple of hiccups along the way.

One such hiccup is Rosie Jarman, who although being recommended by one of Don’s only friends Gene, quickly fails to meet The Wife Project’s standards. Despite not being wife material, the pair do embark on another project together, one to find Rosie’s father. The progression of that project sees their friendship begins and many hijinks ensue.

As I said in my intro, what really stood out to me was just how easy The Rosie Project is to read. That might sound like a strange thing to praise, but finding a book that really pulls you through its pages and makes you smile as you go can be hard to find. While I didn’t find it to be laugh out loud funny (it’s rare I find a book that makes me audibly chuckle) I did find myself grinning at the end of each chapter. It was a story I could imagine on screen, which is I think why I enjoyed it so much.

That enjoyment was sustained throughout. But there were moments when Don’s Asperger’s seems to be skated over or easily forgotten in a way that doesn’t quite ring true. For example, he describes his intense dislike for being touched, but when it’s convenient to the plot that seems to be forgotten. As a novel that tries to get into the mind of a man with high-functioning Asperger’s to me at times that felt like it didn’t ring completely true. However, maybes those quick solutions are just part and parcel of creating a book with such pace, and similar plot solutions are generally taken as part and parcel of the genre.  

If like me you’re a fan of a romcom, or you just want a story you can race through I’d highly recommend The Rosie Project. It’s fun and light, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need.


  • Romantic Comedies characteristically have quite set plot points, how does having a sense of what’s going to happen before you go into a novel change how you read it?
  • How well do you think Simsion presents and handles Don’s “cognitive difference” in the storyline?
  • The Rosie Project was originally started as a screenplay, do you think that has had an effect on the writing style?
  • How does Don’s initial Wife Project compare to how the web has tried to make a science out of dating?
  • What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour? Can you tell the difference between it and something similar? (This is the aspect of the book I’ve probably spent the most time thinking about)




Why not use The Rosie Project themed bookmark I designed to keep your place as you read? You can print and download it for free here.

As ever, let me know if you’ve read The Rosie Project, or if you have any recommendations for what I should be reading next.



  1. August 11, 2017 / 2:57 am

    I really liked The Rosie Project. It’s gotten a lot of bad reviews – as romantic comedies and young adult books too – but I think you’ve just got to take them for what they are. They’re mostly light, fluffy, easy reads – and that’s what I like about them. There’s times when I want to read revered literature, and there’s times when I want to read about predictable love stories, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    I also loved seeing the world through Don’s eyes. I think the author did try his best to convey his issues accurately, but as you said, some things were skimmed over for the sake of the plot. As I’m not someone who personally struggles with those issues, I can’t really say whether that’s right or wrong, but it feels wrong. I wouldn’t blame someone who is like Don to be annoyed by that, but again, I’m not the right person to ask. I really did enjoy this book though, and the sequel isn’t too bad either.

    • Natalie
      August 11, 2017 / 3:33 pm

      I couldn’t agree more, there’s a time and a place and a mood for all kinds of literature. One is not inherently more valuable, it’s all about what you will get something out of as you’re reading it. I too don’t really feel like I’m in a position to judge how someone with Aspergers would feel about the portrayal of Don’s sudden change in character, but I did think it was mentioning, because his character and his way of thinking is so key to the story. I haven’t read the sequel, but I’d definitely consider it for my next holiday book!

  2. August 11, 2017 / 6:13 am

    for some reason, i cannot find myself sinking my teeth into the romcom genre. i don’t even like watching comedy, let alone a romcom. reading comedy is also out of the question because imo, comedy is way more entertaining when watched in action and not, well…read. like you, i’ve always been more of a ‘serious’ reader as i read sci-fi, thriller, fantasy, etc but never purely romcom. i read coming of age fiction with bits and pieces of romcom but something purely romcom just never really grasp my interest. i don’t know why. people look at me like i just killed someone whenever i said, ‘i don’t like to read/watch comedy stuff’ and they think i don’t have a sense of humor. i guess, my sense of humor is just…out of place. it’s like…i laugh at something sarcastic and sassy instead of a supposedly comedy, if that makes sense? even when i need a quick, light read, i turn into a 300-400 pages of fantasy that has 2797029 lores LOL

    that said, i never knew about the rosie project. from the way you described it, this sounds like an interesting book though. i might actually give it a try and put it in my TBR list. thanks, natalie!

    • Natalie
      August 11, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      I completely agree that comedy is way better on screen/in person than in books – I have yet to find a book that makes me laugh out loud, my Literature tutor thought that I didn’t have a sense of humour because I wasn’t rolling on the floor while reading Tristram Shandy. I’ve not read any fantasty since I was in school, and now you’ve really made me want to dip my toe back in. It just always takes me a little while to get to grips with learning the new universe and terms if that makes sense, in the same way I spent the first 100 pages of Anna Karenina trying to learn the names

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