Its romance but who are we really laughing at?

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
Text Publishing, 2013, 229 pages

I read this book in a night and I have to say I really have mixed feelings about it. On one hand this is a funny novel about a guy Don Tillman who does not know that he suffers Asperger’s Syndrome. His life is about routine, efficiency, and black and white interpretation. Don decides that to find a suitable partner requires devising a questionnaire that will identify the best candidate. What throws a spanner in the works is Rosie Jarman who is the antithesis of everything he wants in a partner. What follows is the hilarity of the romantic chase and it is funny.
Then you have a ‘but’ moment and that comes when you realise that people are laughing at Don. That all this humour is because of his affliction and that sits uncomfortably with me.  As you realise that as a reader you are laughing at a person with Asperger’s and the methods they use to try and live a normal as possible life.  That is when you feel uncomfortable, that is when I was not so sure of the comedic value of the book.
Rosie is a wonderful character and it more through her that you see the cruelty of how people treat Don. She accepts him for who he is and comes to love all of his quirks.  It is through Rosie that we come to understand the difficulties Don faces.
It is too understand why this novel is a successful as a romantic comedy. It is all there and it works but when realise you are laughing at Don and not with him then you feel a bit awkward. I think Graeme Simsion misses an opportunity to really champion Don and his condition. Instead Don has to change and I am not sure that is actually possible.
A good read but I am not sure that it deserves all the hype.
For more information on Graeme Simsion check out his website

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