The Rosie Project
By Graeme Simsion
This is a delightful book that I would highly recommend to anyone. Don Tillman is a 39yr old geneticist, sitting somewhere quite high up on the Asperger’s scale. He finds out that married men live longer and are happier than singletons. Therefore he makes finding a partner his priority. Unfortunately he has had absolutely no success in the area previously and so devises a questionnaire to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Don’s friend and work colleague sets him up with Rosie, who fails the questionnaire on just about every level, however, I am sure that you can all see where this story is going.
This book is not really about the plot, which follows every Rom com that has ever been, it is about Don, who is wonderfully drawn in his habits, his social awkwardness, his crippling inflexibility. Some of the episodes are laugh-out-loud funny but the author has done such a good job with Don that you’re not laughing at him, you’re falling in love with him.
The other characters in the book are good if standard fare in rom coms, but it is Don who will stay with you when this book is long finished.
Instructions for a Heatwave
By Maggie O’Farrell
This book is totally character-driven. If you’re looking for lots of plot and action then this book is definitely not for you.
The book hangs,not on the Heatwave of 1976, as the title would have you believe, In fact it is hard to understand what the heatwave has to do with anything in the book at all apart from a couple of mentions of ‘phew it’s very hot today’ the heat and the year are irrelevant, but on the disappearance of Robert Riordan, husband and father of three.
When Robert disappears it causes his three children to reunite to help their mother try to find him.
The book is then about the various disfunctional lives of the mother and children who bear secrets from the world and from each other.
It’s hard to imagine anyone liking The garrulous Irish Catholic mother Gretta, and she does nothing to redeem herself as the story wears on. Michael Francis, the eldest, is a teacher whose marriage is in difficulties and he feels stuck in a life he never wanted. Monica has lost her first husband (and her sister) due to a tragedy. Re-married, her step-children make her life a misery and she is deeply unhappy. Then there is Aoife, the late, problem child, although her problems are not of her making. She has managed to ‘escape’ the family and make a life for herself in America.
If there was one thing I would have to say was a negative it would be that it was hard, if not impossible, to believe no-one knew about Aoife’s ‘problem’ from childhood right through to adulthood.
It is hard to say I enjoyed this book as I found it quite depressing in places but that doesn’t make it bad. In fact I have thought about the characters since finishing the book and for me that is the sign of a good writer. I haven’t read anything else by Maggie O’Farrell but I definitely will now after reading Instructions for a Heatwave.