I’ve been meaning to write this review for weeks. For WEEKS, I tell you! When The Rosie Effect first came out I had to have it immediately – and not only because the first editions were signed by the author, Graeme Simsion. I had to have it, and to consume it, as soon as possible because I absolutely adored its predecessor, The Rosie Project. Apparently, gauging from conversations with friends, they had to have (and consume!) The Rosie Effect straight away too – since all of them had read it by the time I was finished.
For anyone who isn’t in the loop, The Rosie Project was a novel written and released last year by Graeme Simsion, an Australian author who up until then was a professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Generally, though it is a bit harsh to say, Australian authors aren’t outrageously successful on ‘the big stage’ (i.e. everywhere else in the world). Despite the fact that we produce some excellent writers, who even go on to win the Man Booker prize, it is unusual for us to produce mammoth bestsellers.
Well, The Rosie Project changed all of that. Not only did everyone in Australia seem to have read it (from my sister, to Paul’s Mum, to my step-mum, to my university friend…), considering it has sold literally MILLIONS of copies, it appears that everyone else overseas has read it too. Thus, you can see my excitement about the sequel coming out.
(Side note: While it is fantastic for Graeme Simsion and overall the Australian writing community that he’s been so successful, it does make it tough when I get in arguments with Paul, who has decided that our best ‘get rich quick’ scheme is for me to simply ‘write a book’. When I try to explain to him that, umm, writing a book is actually incredibly difficult, let alone one that actually makes any money, he responds with ‘What about that guy who wrote the Rosie Project? He’d be a millionaire now. Just write a book like he did’. Sigh.).
So, The Rosie Effect is set approximately two years since the end of The Rosie Project, and Rosie and Don Tillman are married and living in New York. Don, who takes planning and organisation to the next level, is happily content living with Rosie while she completes her second year of med school at Columbia University.
Then Rosie, unexpectedly, gets pregnant. Suddenly Don, who is not only a planner extraordinaire but also a genius (practically) learns everything there is to know about babies – what Rosie should be eating, how the baby is growing and the health benefits of ‘swapping babies’ during breastfeeding time. Unfortunately, it’s the emotional stuff that Don is having a bit of trouble getting a handle on, and Rosie, fiercely independent Rosie, thinks that maybe Don is a little too weird to be a father to her baby.
The Rosie Effect is a laugh out loud romantic comedy with endearing characters that you want to cheer for right until the very last sentence. Furthermore though, despite being wrapped up in the fairy floss disguise of a rom com, Don Tillman and The Rosie Effect (just like The Rosie Project) teach you that it’s OK to be a bit different, to be a bit odd. Sure, it may mean getting arrested for simply doing ‘baby research’ and it can lead to being accused of being a terrorist, but as long as you’re friendly, kind and true to yourself, it usually works out just fine.
Though The Rosie Effect is definitely silly in scenes, it has a strong message throughout and I think it is this same strong message that appealed to so many readers with The Rosie Project. That its OK to not want to hug strangers (amen Don Tillman!). That its OK to make mistakes. That its OK to lecture a pregnant woman about the amount (or lack thereof) of tofu she has been consuming…actually no, that last one apparently isn’t OK.
The only problem that I have about The Rosie Effect, which other friends have said also, is that it falls into the trap that so many rom coms fall into – that the plot is centred around a problem that could largely be rectified with a single conversation. In The Rosie Effect, this is largely Rosie’s reaction to how Don feels about being a father – her belief is that he is too weird and doesn’t want to be a father, yet she fails to actually have an in-depth discussion with him about it, which seems extra weird considering she married a man who doesn’t do well with social cues. As a result, the plot sometimes gets a bit frustrating, leaving me with the overwhelming desire to scream to Rosie and Don to just TALK to one another.
Aside from that though, I loved The Rosie Effect. It is smart, quick-witted, heart-warming and overall, just a general lark of a book. You will get frustrated reading it, you will get the giggles, and you will applaud a generally lovely character who deserves to have his happy ending.
Have you read The Rosie Project? Have you read The Rosie Effect yet? What did you think of the two books? Let me know!