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27 September 2014

Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Effect

"The Baby Project"
THE ROSIE PROJECT was one of the most memorable books I read last year. It was an entertaining and amusing feel-good story that made me laugh, and sometimes cry and looked at love, personal relationships and self-discovery in a very different way. "The Rosie Effect" further explores the relationship between the compulsive personality and strictly regimented life of Professor of Genetics, Don Tillman as he settles down to married life with Rosie, his loving wife who has a totally different personality.

Don and Rosie have moved from Melbourne to New York where he is teaching genetics and researching alcoholic mice at Columbia University and Rosie is about to complete her second year at Columbia Medical School. What happens when Rosie tells Don that she is pregnant? Don faces total meltdown because in his regulated life there should not be surprises. He is not psychologically ready for one of the most important tasks in his life.

So what does he do? He starts up his Baby Project (guided by a spreadsheet for planned parenthood written on the tiles of his bathroom) and quickly tries to become an expert on all things obstetric, and researches the skills of parenthood. He even implements a new Standardised Meal System designed for pregnancy. Of course, in the process he again gets things wrong emotionally and gets involved in some hilarious incidents and errors of judgement. All of this risks alienating Rosie at one of the most important times of their lives.

As an amusing side-plot, Simsion brings back Don's best friend Gene (who Rosie dislikes) who has a lifetime project to have sex with a woman from every country in the world. This project has recently wrecked his open marriage to Claudia and brings further stress into Don and Rosie's life when he becomes their house guest during his time on a sabbatical at Columbia. Gene swears off his project but by chance Don's female research assistant turns out to be Lithuanian.

It is very hard to follow up on something that was so memorable but Simsion shows that he can keep us absorbed, fascinated and amused by the story of Don and Rosie as their strange lives together progress into parenthood. Once again this is an amusing and frequently very touching human story about two different and unique characters that will make you laugh and feel sad and glad right up to the last page. Well done Graeme Simpsion - you have another winner on your hands.

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