Need a book for the sun? Harry Guerin finds out if Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project is up to the job.
Ah, the light summer read; the kind of book where you can get through 20 pages in one go, whatever the weather. Former IT consultant and lecturer Simsion's debut actually began life as a movie script, and we should see it onscreen before too long because his lead character, genius-but-gauche genetics professor Don Tillman, is too good for the studios to pass on. In a perfect world he'd get his own TV sitcom.
Don has, to put it mildly, very fixed ideas about life. He has now brought this dogmatism to The Wife Project, a rigorous, 16-page questionnaire designed to find him a soulmate and address the most critical need in Don's world: saving time. But when student Rosie walks into Don's office his schedule, and everything else, goes haywire.
Dating disasters, deal-breakers and DNA combine here as Simsion pokes fun at how fussy and foolish we all can be when it comes to matters of the heart. Don's behaviour and worldview are funny because they're so extreme, but the longer you spend with him the more you realise you have in common. He's a well-meaning guy but a master of self-sabotage - sound familiar?
There are times when Simsion gets too hung up on the detective work that throws his odd couple together, but he manages to avoid serious mind-drift by ensuring that another Don faux pas or nerd-fuel factoid is only a few paragraphs away. While you probably wouldn't want to meet him on holiday, having Don in your bag will be no weight to carry.