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review 2015-11-27 21:23
Review Catch Up: The Rosie Project (Simsion); Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Semple); The Rosie Effect (Simsion); Funny Girl (Hornby)
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple
The Rosie Effect: A Novel (Don Tillman Book 2) - Graeme Simsion
Funny Girl - Nick Hornby

I'm hitting another block when trying to talk about the last few books I've read, because here's another batch of very overdue takes on some good books (and one not).

 ---

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion


This was charming, witty, and had plenty of heart -- even without the romance, which just took it all to another level. It was just plain fun to read.

 

Don Tillman is just a great character -- he's likely someone with Asperger's, if not fully Autistic. Which is mentioned once or twice, and then not brought up again. He's then treated as a stubborn, curious, character with behavior patterns no one can seem to understand, but most people in his life figure out hot to cope with. Sometimes they laugh at him, sometimes they get frustrated or angry. What he's not treated as is someone with anything. He's not treated by his symptoms, he's just treated as this guy. Simsion's treatment of Don reminds me of Abed Nadir, from Community (which is high praise from me).

 

The only complaint I had was that the last chapter wasn't really needed, and maybe would've been best left to the imagination. But, setting that aside, it felt rushed, while the rest of the book was so well done, it just stuck out like a sore thumb.

 

Still, whatever -- one of my favorite books of 2013, and still one of the best RomComs I can remember. 5 Stars

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette

by Maria Semple 

Do you get seasick? People who don't get seasick have no idea what it's like. It's not just nausea. It's nausea plus losing the will to live.

I should get that embroidered on something.

 

This starts light and breezy, a little strange, a little typical "these crazy (white) suburbanites with too much money"; but you know it's going to get dark eventually -- probably nasty dark, but first it's going to lull you into a false sense of fun. I don't think it gets as dark as it felt like it could've, it didn't need to, and I'm glad it didn't -- but there was a whole lot going on that the whacky beginning didn't indicate.

 

You don't have care about the story because these characters are strength enough to carry your attention for quite awhile with nothing happening -- and Semple's style is just as strong. But there is a sorry here, a story of a daughter discovering just who her mother was -- as is -- a story about a talented woman who ended up loving a life she'd never have expected or picked for herself or her family. So you do care about the story -- especially the way it's told, in bits and pieces, jumping back and forth through time, from multiple perspectives -- particularly when you get two or three perspectives painting a picture of an event -- as Bee digs into her investigation.

 

Fun story, quirky characters, well-told story, with plenty of heart -- and too many quotable lines. I jotted down a few that I can't resist sharing, even in this abbreviated post.

You probably think, U.S./Canada, they're interchangeable because they're both filled with English-speaking, morbidly obese white people. Well, Manjula, you couldn't be more mistaken.
Americans are pushy obnoxious, neurotic, crass -- anything and everything -- the full catastrophe as our friend Zorba might say. Canadians are one of that. . . To Canadians, everyone is equal. Joni Mitchell is interchangeable with a secretary at open-mic night. Frank Gehry is no greater than a hack pumping out McMansions on AutoCAD, John Candy is no funnier than Uncle Lou when he gets a couple of beers in him. No wonder the only Canadians anyone's ever heard of are the ones who have gotten the hell out. Anyone with talent who stayed would be flattened under an avalanche of equality.
Really, who wants to admit to her daughter that she was once considered the most promising architect in the country, but now devotes her celebrated genius to maligning the driver in front of her for having Idaho plates?"

4 Stars

The Rosie EffectThe Rosie Effect

by Graeme Simsion

"To the world's most perfect woman." It was lucky my father was not present. Perfect is an absolute that cannot be modified, like unique or pregnant. My love for Rosie was so powerful that it had caused my brain to make a grammatical error.

Don and Rosie are living in New York, getting used to married life, and expecting a kid. None of which goes well -- so, of course, Don tries to tackle things the same way he did in the last book. Instant sequel, just add water.

 

This sequel was written with the same wit and skill as The Rosie Project, but the story wasn't there -- and more importantly, neither was the heart.

 

Mostly, I think, because Rosie wasn't around for a lot -- and when she was there, she wasn't a character, she was an obstacle.

 

Other than really liking the occasional line (maybe more than occasional), I just didn't like how Rosie or Don were written, the plot was shoddy and contrived, and I was just glad to be done with it so I could move on.

2 Stars

Funny GirlFunny Girl

by Nick Hornby

How on earth could he love her? But he did, Or, at least, she made him feel sick, sad, and distracted. Perhaps there was another way of describing that unique and useless combination of feelings, but "love" would have to do for now.

Everything I know about this era of British culture and TV comes from The Hour and An Adventure in Space and Time, so I just have to trust that Hornby did his homework on this. I thought the behind-the-scenes stuff was great, it felt real -- it felt like the kinds of conversations that writers and actors should be having anyway.

 

The love story turned out a lot different than I was sure it would - thankfully. Actually, most of the book did. This wasn't the rags-to-riches-to-wreck story that it seemed like it was going to be, but a story of some people with dreams and talent doing what they could to get going in a cutthroat business. Dreams were chased, many were caught, others changed/grew -- as did the dreamers.

 

In the midst of the discussions about the nature of their show and the stories they told -- both during the making of the show Barbara (and Jim) and in later chapters where it was being looked back at, I kept wondering if tucked away in all that was an apologia for light fiction like Hornby writes? If so, I appreciated it. (it also reminded me of some similar comments John Cleese has made lately, after coming to terms with being someone who makes people laugh, and not saving the world or something grander)

 

Thoughtful, heartfelt, charming -- this is Hornby at his most confident and mature. I can see why some aren't liking it, but it really clicked for me.

4 1/2 Stars

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2015/11/27/review-catch-up-the-rosie-project-whered-you-go-bernadette-the-rosie-effect-funny-girl
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review 2015-05-15 12:45
The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman, #2) by Graeme Simsion Review
The Rosie Effect: A Novel (Don Tillman Book 2) - Graeme Simsion

THE ROSIE PROJECT WAS COMPLETE BUT I WAS UNPREPARED FOR THE ROSIE EFFECT.

GREETINGS. My name is Don Tillman. I am forty-one years old. I have been married to Rosie Jarman, world's most perfect woman, for ten months and ten days.

Marriage added significant complexity to my life. When we relocated to New York City, Rosie brought three maximum-size suitcases. We abandoned the Standardised Meal System and agreed that sex should not be scheduled in advance.

Then Rosie told me we had 'something to celebrate', and I was faced with a challenge even greater than finding a partner.

I have attempted to follow traditional protocols and have sourced advice from all six of my friends, plus a therapist and the internet.

The result has been a web of deceit. I am now in danger of prosecution, deportation and professional disgrace. 

And of losing Rosie forever.

 

Review

 

The Rosie Project was a romance. This sequel isn't. It doesn't have to be to be a good book but I thinka disservice is done to the characters in this book that makes story that is told about marriage in trouble and then recovered really hard to like.

 

There are great moments and wonderful secondary characters. Don, while not making good choices at first, is a wonderful narrator of this tale.

 

Rosie is just down right unlikable, lacks empathy, and never grows as a character. Ironically, Don is accused of having social interaction issues and lacking attachment. Nope. Rosie has all those issues in spades. I can accept the errors she makes. The writer even heavily handedly has a visiting therapist drop in and explain Rosie's actions. But the second half of the book should about her changing, her healing and instead we get a rush oh the baby is born. Bah.

 

Don is fine. Don is Don and lovely. Roise needs a lot of work. She never even aknowledges her issues. We never get to see Don and Rosie as lovers and in love. Sad.

 

Soooo. Yeah. Not my favorite. Frustating in terms of character arc.

 

I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it.

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review 2013-10-22 17:29
Review of "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project was chosen as this month's Smart Bitches' book club pick and I tried to wait until the chat date, which still has not been announced, but I just couldn't do it.  I loved this book.  It was as if The Big Bang Theory put Sheldon with Penny, but better because Rosie is closer to Don's intellectual level than Penny is to Sheldon (or Leonard for that matter).

 

Rosie follows Professor Don Tillman, a geneticist, who most certainly has some form of Asperger's Disorder, in his quest to find the perfect wife.  When the book opens, Don explains that he never believed that he would find anyone suitable to be his wife/life partner and that he had been fine with that until a friend, one of the four that he had (although some of his friends *coughcough Claudia and Daphne coughcough* definitely cared more about him than others *coughcough Gene *coughcough*) suggested that he would make a wonderful husband.  This is when he develops The Wife Project, a questionnaire, which in reality is very similar to those used on Match.com and all those other dating sites, because he believes that questions like: "Do you eat kidneys?" will help him find the perfect mate.  (The answer to the kidney question is "Occasionally" because that indicates that someone is willing to eat a little bit of everything.  I'm sorry, but if something is used to filter out urine, I don't want to eat it.  Maybe that's just me.)  My inner geek loved all the "Methods" section buzzwords that were used in the development of the questionnaire--words like Cross Validation and Type I and II Errors.  Took me right back to my Graduate Research Methods Class and that awful paper we had to write about biases in drug laws.  *shudders*  That whole experience still gives me nightmares--don't ever work on a group project if you don't have to: social loafing abounds.  What really surprised me about The Wife Project questionnaire is how many women actually filled it out.  It seemed rather desperate, but then I've done Match.com, E-Harmony, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid, so I guess it isn't that desperate. 

 

Anyway, Don quickly realizes that his method of finding a wife isn't working because he is too strict with what answers he'll accept, so he makes a few changes, but deep down he still believes in the efficacy of the project.  Then, in walks Rosie.  She is everything that he doesn't want in a wife.  She smokes and drinks, she's a vegetarian, and she's a barmaid, which in his mind meant that she wasn't smart.  However, he promised Gene that he would at least go out with any woman he sends to him (Gene took over the project) and since he believed that Gene sent Rosie to him he went out.  This is the first time you really get to see just how "different" Don is.  When meeting Rosie for dinner at an expensive restaurant, Don misunderstands the jacket requirement at the restaurant and ends up in a physical altercation with a bouncer.  Of course this leads to a very charming first date, which includes the creation of a new time zone: Rosie Time.

 

It is clear very early on (even before the jacket incident) that he is intrigued by Rosie and wants to get to know her, but Don doesn't see his actions for what they are, even when he is unwilling to let her go.  He thinks that it is his scientist's curiosity that keeps him involved in "The Father Project," which is Rosie's mission to find her biological father.  Instead of suggesting Rosie speak to each potential father and asking for a DNA sample, Don and Rosie set out to stealthily obtain samples from each one man and then test them at the University Genetics Lab, despite the fact that this could cause Don to lose his job.

 

I really did love this book, but I had a few problems with it.  I felt as if Gene was taking advantage Don throughout the narrative.  Let's face it, Gene was not a good guy.  He was a serial cheater, covering his infidelity with the idea that he had an Open Marriage, but how open could it be when he was the only one having outside affairs?  Claudia loved Gene despite his huge flaws, but it didn't seem to me like Gene loved her enough not to sleep with other women.  Then there is the whole "Wife Project" thing.  Gene decides that Don isn't going about things right and puts himself in charge of setting him up with several women who sent the questionnaire.  However, he never really does this.  Instead, he uses it to find women for himself.  Don notices more than once that the women Gene is out with are ones that he either met at dating functions or whose picture he had with their questionnaires.  

 

The sad thing is that this is something that could happen to someone along the Autism Spectrum because they tend to be very trusting of others.  That's the part of Autism that truly scares me, as someone with more than one autistic relative.  I constantly fear that people will take advantage of their trust and hurt them.  The scariest part is that there is very little I can do to protect them from people like this.

 

The biggest problem I had with The Rosie Project was the idea that Don could change as quickly as he does.  At one point, he realizes that he wants Rosie as his life partner, which is what he meant by wife, and decides that the only way he is going to get her to love him is for him to change some of the very things that she already loved about him and that made him who he is.  That isn't to say that some of these changes weren't necessary and weren't in his best interest.  My problem is that he changes simply because he wants to and he doesn't even have to really think about the changes.  One morning, he wakes up and decides that his meal system is a little annal and he gets rid of it completely, going to the store to buy whatever is good that day.  This just wouldn't happen.  Not with someone whose routine was so ingrained in him the way it was with Don.  This is something it would take years to change even with appropriate therapy, something that he is not receiving from Claudia despite the fact that she is a licensed psychologist.  In the end, it was more like he had chosen to be different his entire life than that he was "born that way," which is exactly what he was. Don was born with Asperger's and his social awkwardness was as much a part of him as the color of his eyes.

 

Finally, I also had an issue with Rosie, who I did not believe was ready to be someone's wife; she doesn't really even know who she is.  Her entire life has revolved around the fact that she didn't know who her biological father was.  Even Don can see that her decisions were based around her father problem (for instance at one point, she mentions that she didn't go into medicine because she didn't want the man who raised her to think that she was choosing her biological father, who was a doctor, over him).

 

I did, however, really like this book.  Don is a very relatable character and it was nice reading a character that wasn't the literary standard.

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