Desert Isle Keeper
The Rosie Project
Hearing the hype surrounding this Australian comedy (that just happens to be a romance way off the beaten track), I quickly decided to give the audio version a try despite the fact that it’s the author’s debut novel and the narrator’s first audiobook performance. Told in first person by the hero no less, I felt the chances for success were high when I heard the opening music which perfectly sets the tone. And I wasn’t disappointed – in the least.
Don Tillman lives an ordered life with every minute planned out on his calendar and regular weekly events reoccurring at the exact same time on the same day – week in and week out. On his Standardized Meal Plan, he needs no more and no less than the specified day’s meal – again, always the same each week. He thrives on events in his life following his completely predictable schedule. Clothes are purchased with multiple uses in mind and he sees no need to make a change to update his style as long as they remain functional. To most, Don seems a little strange. To the listener, it sounds as though he’s structured his life to accommodate the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. Don, however, doesn’t see himself as such.
As a genetics professor at a well-known university, Don performs his duties with meticulous care. He only has two friends, a couple both in psychology – one a fellow professor. Believing it’s time to find a wife, Don starts The Wife Project creating a sixteen-page questionnaire to be completed by possible candidates. It’s his attempt to find a wife who will fit his lifestyle and not cause undue irritations with issues such as dislike of ice cream or smoking. She must be punctual and claiming to be a vegetarian will disqualify her as a candidate as that can be so inconvenient when out to dinner. If your “asshole” warnings are starting to go off, no worries here. This is Don’s logical thinking in action and has nothing to do with being judgmental or minimalizing another person. Social settings baffle him and he knows he doesn’t fit easily into most situations with other people (although he makes significant progress over the course of the book).
Don is physically attractive but since the story is told from his perspective, you only learn of it in bits and pieces. Plus, he is more than proficient in aikido and karate and excels at just about anything he tries other than typical social interaction. Projects have worked well in Don’s professional life and, over the course of the book, he uses these coping mechanisms often, filling his life with projects including The Father Project, the dancing project, The Don Project, and even The Rosie Project. At times, it is laugh-out-loud quality yet it’s not a joke on Don.
When Don meets Rosie, he knows she is, in no way, a Wife Project candidate as she doesn’t exercise, is chronically tardy, smokes, lacks cooking skills, and is a vegetarian. Yet he creates a reason to keep seeing her – The Father Project. He will help her find her biological father through DNA testing. It’s his first step off his well-worn path of an ordered life. Framed with the author’s perfect sense of drollness, Don’s regimented life slowly starts to come apart a bit at a time and he reacts with surprising resiliency.
Dan O’Grady performs The Rosie Project with complete style, totally sensing the need to understand this man yet deliver his thoughts quickly (surely at the pace Don’s mind must move), all the while allowing the listener time to absorb the hilarious musings that the author has so cleverly hidden in this man’s structured thinking. I discovered that I wanted to stay alert for these little gems of humor and even found myself reversing to enjoy an occasional line all over again.
Although I can’t say that I’m totally on board with O’Grady’s female characterizations, they remain clearly distinct although deeper at times than his males. He doesn’t come near a falsetto, and although I’m not one who severely criticizes such, it feels rather good when a male narrator doesn’t resort to those unrealistic high notes. Most importantly, the listener hears the personality of each female with few inconsistencies to the written word.
I’m rather amazed that this is the work of not only a first time author but a new narrator as well. I have to wonder if Dan O’Grady is a pseudonym but yet I can’t imagine why he would choose to do so as The Rosie Project is considered more general fiction than romance. He just seems to be a natural at imparting the spirit of this author’s work, providing the listener with a seamless performance. Yes, the female characters may sound a little too male at times but I quit noticing before my first half hour of listening passed. I was immersed in the story, never thinking twice about the narration, and isn’t that the true mark of a successful narration?
Why am I not talking more about Rosie? This is Don’s story and although Rosie is a deserving heroine, she takes a backseat to his character. She inspires Don to want more in his life and to take new adventures as they work together on The Father Project. She’s spirited, smart, and fun-loving yet cautiously optimistic about her life. And she’s no pushover.
As I neared that last fourth of the audio, I realized I was thoughtfully considering the advantages of emotion versus logic. Don doesn’t need to be fixed or changed from the appealing unique person he is. But I found myself wanting to shed a few tears for this brave man who logically faces life and slowly starts to open his mind to change.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: A- and Book Content: A
Unabridged. Length – 7 hours 32 minutes
|Review Date:||December 3, 2013|
|Book Type:||Audiobook | Chick Lit | Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||Australia | Dan O'Grady | funny | neurodiverse | Teacher|