Two confessions: I did not read Graeme Simsionís feted first work, The Rosie Project, and, I thought it was an autobiography, not a novel. After reading
The Rosie Effect, I will go back to discover the details of the mysterious coupling of main characters Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman.
At the start of this novel, Don and Rosie are enjoying their first year of marriage. They have a seemingly hectic but satisfying life. Don is a visiting professor at Columbia Medical School, part≠time cocktail impresario, and aikido master. Rosie is finishing her PhD thesis, is about to enter the clinical phase of med school, and is also a part≠time cocktail whiz.
Enter the main plot twists: Rosie announces she is pregnant (not likely an accident and definitely NOT something she has recently discussed with Don), and Don (without checking with Rosie), invites his philandering, now≠separated friend Gene to live with them. Follow≠up with a surprise move, a new volunteer job for Don, additional instances of deception, and things start to careen out of control.
Like many pregnant women, Rosie becomes increasingly emotional, extremely tired, and obsessive about certain foods. Meanwhile, Don plans to solve all the challenges of Rosieís condition, and his friendsí problems, while hiding certain uncomfortable escapades from almost everyone. Donís foot≠in≠mouth comments, odd reactions, and purely academic research on the growing baby seem quite humorous to readers. Not surprisingly, Rosieís reaction is that he will not be a caring father.
Gene also laughed. ĎI think Don is being characteristically methodical. We canít expect him to take on a new project without research, right, Don?í
But, since a baby is, well, a BABY and not a project, the rift in Don and Rosieís marriage grows wider and deeper until it seems unbridgeable. Even Don has a difficulties imagining himself as a father.
Readers will definitely warm to Don Tillman. He knows himself and recognizes his shortcomings (almost always after the fact though):
ďIím extremely experienced at dealing with embarrassment resulting from insensitivity to others. Iím an expert. I recommend an apology and admission that you are a klutz.Ē
It was, of course, not the fault of the cosmos but of my own
limitations. I had simply gotten too many things wrong, and the damage had
The author does a remarkable job exposing the backstory of Donís social mishaps. We are not told Donís diagnosis at the start of the book, but slowly gather a tremendous amount of insight into the characterís scientifically skewed mind. Readers will gather Don has not only
Simsionís resolutions to the various dilemmas are unexpected, fun and ultimately heartwarming. Taken in total, what a wonderfully human group of characters living typically messy lives.