What’s a fun-loving, socially-awkward, unknowingly-Aspergers-afflicted, genetics professor got to do to find a wife? Don Tillman is sure he has found the answer via a sixteen-page questionnaire. He intends to post said questionnaire, which Don refers to as The Wife Project, on-line and to offer it to females he encounters in various other social settings. Don’s life revolves around his scheduled work-out, his Standardized Meal System, household cleaning tasks, his work assignments and his only two friends, Gene and Claudia. After hitting on the brilliant idea of The Wife Project questionnaire as the most efficient means of identifying suitable partners and eliminating unsuitable (vegetarian, smokers, drinkers, and women who run late) partners, Don takes the final prototype to share with his friends. If you’d like to see “Don’s” questionnaire, in part: http://quiz.therosieproject.com.au/compat.html.
“I explained that I had followed best practice in questionnaire design, including multiple-choice questions, Likert scales, cross-validation, dummy questions, and surrogates. Claudia asked for an example of the last of these.
“‘Question thirty-five. Do you eat kidneys? Correct answer is c) occasionally. Testing for food problems. If you ask directly about food preferences, they say, ‘I eat anything,’ and then you discover they’re vegetarian.'”
Don’s adventures as he confronts “females” (his term) with the questionnaire at dating events including Table for Eight, “a commercial matchmaking operation,” a singles party and speed dating, are predictably disastrous and hilarious. Gene agrees to vet on-line applicants and Don ends up on a date with the completely inappropriately pescatarian, smoking, drinking and always tardy Rosie Jarman. Despite all of Rosie’s flaws, Don finds himself drawn to her.
The rest of The Rosie Project shoots between an international genetic search for Rosie’s father and Don and Rosie’s internal struggles to decide whether they are the appropriate male and female partner for one another. At one point, even Gregory Peck makes an appearance to assist Don in his search. Who can do anything but love a book with Gregory Peck and a sixteen page dating questionnaire that does not come from eharmony or Neil Warren?
Your book club will love The Rosie Project. It’s intelligent, fun, quirky, (in fact so quirky that the upcoming movie producers should just go ahead and give the part of Rosie to Zooey Deschanel) but Mr. Simsion disagrees with me:
“A big caveat here: I originally wrote The Rosie Project as a screenplay, and Sony Pictures have optioned it. If they go ahead, they’ll doubtless engage a professional casting director, who (experience tells me) will do a much better job than I would. I’ve made a bunch of short films, and have been amazed by what inspired casting can do. Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. Who’d have thought it? Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets (OK, that one feels like a natural, but perhaps only in retrospect.) The Rosie Project takes us into not dissimilar territory. And, of course, anything I say here does not reflect the views of Sony Pictures, its agents, etc, etc.
“That said, rather than second-guess Sony’s choices, I’ve cast my mind back to when I expected that if the movie was made, it would be in my home country of Australia, and imagined an all-Australian cast.
“Eric Bana as Don. He’s known internationally for dramatic / action roles but he started off in comedy.
“Melissa George as Rosie. Loved her in In Treatment.
“Anthony LaPaglia as Gene. My wife assures me he has the “bedroom eyes” necessary for the role.
“Toni Collette as Claudia – great comedy credentials as well as the heart to be the moral center.
“Cate Blanchett as the Dean. Because I can.”
So Eric Bana would be ok with me, but I have no idea who Melissa George is and Anthony LaPaglia seems a bit long in the tooth for Gene.
Lobster, mango and avocado salad — buy lobster meat. Cut up mango and fresh avocado. Lightly dress with champagne vinaigrette. Serve chilled.
Australian wines (Simsion in his acknowledgments suggests Drappier rose champagne)
Mango Ice Cream and Peach Ice Cream — for an experiment in identifying flavors post-chilling of taste buds.
Music for The Rosie Project Bookclub
Anything fun and happy. For example, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Michael Franti, maybe a little bit of Katrina & the Waves Walking on Sunshine.