There is a current and continual vogue for the awkward. It’s no longer cool to be cool. To be popular is so 90’s and braun? It’s allll about brain now. This is reflected in modern popular culture everywhere at the moment. Be it the hit show The Big Bang Theory with the questionable social skills of Dr Sheldon Cooper catapulting the show to become arguably the friends of our generation, kitsch and kooky heroine with sidekick model best friend Jess of New Girl fame and the West End running shows like Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time, our penchant for the awkward is an insatiable addiction that needs to fed.
The perfect literary remedy for this comes in form of this touching and laugh-out-loud funny debut novel. ‘Not your usual, awkward man meets feisty girl and falls in love with her’ type of book (yawn), The Rosie Project explores the conventions of ‘movie’ screen romance, Aspergers Syndrome, and how falling in love against your better judgment, even with the best of intentions- or a carefully calculated questionnaire, is as inevitable as the Darcy falling for Lizzie Bennett scenario.
Though the plot is somewhat predictable (of course the guy will get the girl, it’s what gives us hope!), the way it’s approached is simultaneously hilarious, touching and cringe-worthy in equal measure. This Darcy, or rather, professor Don Tillman, with no trace of humour, tells us he doesn’t really understand social situations. He likes order- in fact, everything down to his weekly meals, exercises, cleaning schedule and social time with ‘friends’ are planned down to the second. The glimpses of humanity, such as his reverence for his elederly friend Daphne, his relationship with his sister and his comical realization of his attraction to Rosie, are what make Don so utterly charming.
The Rosie Project, originally starts as the Wife Project. Tillman decides he needs a wife and scientifically goes about sourcing one based on his crafted questionnaire. Rosie fails almost every part of the questionnaire, including being a smoker, but somehow he finds himself becoming engrossed in her and the Father Project to help locate Rosie’s biological dad. Rosie ends up teaching him quite a few lessons about love. Granted this education is supported by secondary materials such as To Kill a Mockingbird and When Harry Met Sally– not usual for a scientific mind and for someone who struggles to empathise, but the results are funny, charming and I cannot wait till they make this into the Rom-Com it’s destined to become. The cocktail scene is going to be pretty good- not to mention the faculty ball….If Pride and Prejudice and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night time had a child, it would be the Rosie Project.