Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.
Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
This novel is about finding love and family narrated through the eyes of someone who has a hard time understanding either. Don reminds me of a less demanding Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. He is intense and suffers from an unrelenting commitment to organization. It is hinted (quite heavily) in the novel that Don has Aspergers, as I’m unfamiliar with the specifics of this disorder I’m not sure how accurately it is portrayed in the novel. I did do a bit of research but a superficial understanding doesn’t really allow me to properly judge how effective the portrayal of it is.
Don’s internal monologues and his analysis of social interactions bordered on obsessive and more often than not yielded an incorrect assumption. I myself am often prone to over analyzing, though I do realize that in Don this is a sign of an underlying disorder, and found Don’s fumbling attempts at small talk endearing instead of irritating. Though his complete lack of social cues is definitely a disadvantage, watching as he became accustomed to exploring this new side of his interactions allowed for character growth. It was fascinating to read about a genius and witness how inept he felt in everyday situations.
Don’s world is turned upside down when Rosie stumbles into his life. The opposite of everything Don is looking for in a woman she stills proves his perfect match. Together they traipse across the city in an effort to find Rosie’s birth father. This adventure forces Don outside of his comfort zone and leads him to making decisions he would never otherwise make. What occurs is a sweet and comedic narration which follows our protagonist as he unknowingly falls in love with Rosie.
Despite the absolutely charming premise and subsequent sweetness that follows there was something that stopped me from adoring this novel. Probably the whirlwind romance and the fact that Don expressed a revulsion towards intimacy which disappeared when it came to Rosie. However, I did enjoy this novel. It managed to be clever and lighthearted and leaves you feeling warm and pleasantly surprised.