Well, that was a quick read!
I was browsing various book lists with a view to spending some Christmas money and The Guardian’s Independent Bookshop review of 2013 cropped up with this book.
It is, at heart, a romance novel which is certainly not a usual genre for me. The main character, Don Tillsen in a genetics professor; he is searching for a wife; an entirely unsuitable woman, in this case the eponymous Rosie, crosses his path.
The predictable course of such novels progresses: obstacles appear; problems are overcome; wrong turns are taken… The predictable solution occurs.
What drew me to the book were two factors: firstly, I wanted a change from the rather horror and fantasy based reading that I’ve been in recently; and secondly the main protagonist, Don, has Aspergers and Autistic Spectrum traits. As my daughter also has such traits, and I teach many children who display them too, I was interested.
In fact, the review from The Guardian had mentioned a customer’s comment that
all teachers should be made to read it to give them a better understanding of students with this syndrome. Another customer has simply told us that is the only book that has made her laugh out loud all year.
I’m not quite sure how successful the portrayal of Don Tillman was. He didn’t seem to encounter as many difficulties and problems as a true ASD or OCD or Bipolar sufferer might and those he did encounter seemed to be overcome with relative ease in comparison. These are serious, deeply difficult and life-threatening conditions which rip apart families and they were treated – in my humble opinion – just a tad lightly and light heartedly.
And there was a familiarity to the structure of the story: Don Tillman could have stepped from the the script of The Big Bang Theory, sharing many traits of Sheldon Cooper; his best friend Gene, equally, could have come from How I Met Your Mother being an almost carbon copy of Barney Stinson. Having a teenage bit at home for whom both these generic American sitcoms (even on the third, sixth, twentieth re-run) is compulsory, unless I put my foot down to watch The Great British Bake Off, this is familiar but somewhat two-dimensional territory.
There were some opportunities for genuinely painful moment – Gene’s open marriage and it’s impact on his wife for example – which were only tangentially touched on. Maybe that’s a reflection of Don’s single mindedness but, as a reader, I would have been more interested in exploring that.
However, it was a decent read: entertaining, funny in places, sweet. It’s ending was predictable and just a little too easy somehow but I did care about the characters and wanted them to be together.