The sun is shining, it is nearly a year since I started the book club, and we ventured into two very different genres this month.
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Fans of the tv show ‘The big bang theory’ will understand when I say that ‘The Rosie Project’ is essentially ‘Dr Sheldon Cooper searches for a wife’. Don Tillman is a professor of genetics, he has been on dates in the past, but they never go well, his social issues make him pretty hard to date. If you have someone in your life with asperger’s syndrome, you will easily recognise it in the main character, though he does not.
Don is scathingly honest, irritatingly precise & extremely organised, and rather than seeing the overall picture, he focusses on the tiniest little details of each situation. He is incredibly likeable, even though you can easily understand why his relationships do not work out. His loyalty and willingness to go out of his way to help his friends, makes him the sort of lead man that you can’t help hoping that things will work out for.
Rosie is kooky, cool and significantly more interesting than most leading ladies, she is totally the opposite of his ‘ideal woman’, who, I hasten to add, probably doesn’t exist. I liked Don, but I loved Rosie, she was real, and added a lot of colour to the story. The main plot centres around Don helping Rosie to find out about her past, I will not spoil the book by going in to detail, but I loved how much he invested in helping her, time wise, financially and emotionally.
I was reading this book for the second time (not something I would normally chose to do, as there are so many books that I have yet to read) but again I yelled at the book, I laughed often and I could not put it down. There is something quite joyful about ‘The Rosie Project’, and having a son with Asperger’s syndrome myself, I think that Don is beautifully written, showing not only the extreme frustrations of trying to hold a conversation with someone so single minded (The ice cream incident), but also the lovely honesty of his life, and the deep way he cares for, and looks after his friends. As a group we gave the book 4.5*, this was unanimous and the girls asked if we could add the sequel to our reading list, this is a great fun, easy, lovely book.
The Ocean at the end of the lane – Neil Gaiman
Sci-fi is not a genre that I normally choose, and if I am honest that probably won’t change based on my feelings for this book. I didn’t hate it or anything, in fact it was quite good, it just didn’t inspire me to read more Sci-fi. The marketing for this book says that is is for adults, but it did feel like it was written for a teenage audience, and although I am not opposed to reading kids books, I did not love this one the way I loved ‘Holes’ or ‘The boy in the striped pyjamas’.
I loved the thought that a whole ocean can be in a small pond, or in fact a bucket, and I loved Lettie and her family, who were so welcoming and protective of the boy who was only 7 years old and stuck living with a monster masquerading as a nanny (Ursula). I thought the story was pretty good in an ‘all is not what it seems’ way, and I thought that the descriptions in the book were fabulous, to the point of making me feel quite ill at times (the foot incident).The main problem, I think is that it wasn’t long enough, or it missed something out and I am not even sure what, but I was left with the feeling that it was all a little confined. It was like all of these incredibly strange things happened (or didn’t and the boy was insane) but only in a very small area, and the rest of the world was normal.
I will try again with Neil Gaiman, because I enjoyed the writing, if not the story, and I would recommend this book to teenagers as I think they would really like it. The group gave the book 3.5* and I gave it a respectable 3*, and I fully expect to find a Neil Gaiman book that I love at some point in the future.