Don Tillman is a scientist. He thinks logically and approaches the world in a similar manner. Hence, when he needs to find a wife, he creates a long and involved questionnaire to winnow out unsuitable choices. (His requirements: nonsmoker, body mass index under 26, punctual, mathematically literate, a meat eater, and so on.) The 16-page, double-sided, scientifically valid document, he believes, offers his best chance of finding the perfect partner. That is, until he meets the fiery and intelligent Rosie Jarman. Rosie, who doesn’t meet any of his requirements, is trying to track down her biological father, and she needs Don’s expertise in genetics to do it. The two pursue their quests in tandem, but gradually, as their relationship deepens, their missions converge. Summary Library Journal
Setting aside two (personal) red flags (“the feel-good book of 2013” and a romantic novel authored by a man), I plucked THE ROSIE PROJECT from the Express shelf of my library. I saw that Graeme Simsion is Australian and having enjoyed several novels from that country this year, I felt this one was certainly worth a try.
Of course I LOVED it! As usual, perhaps not for the same reasons as other readers…..I mean, this story is tagged as “screwball comedy”: it’s far too logical for that. Someone needs to watch BRINGING UP BABY to fully understand that cinematic paradigm. It could be more accurately called “asperger’s comedy”. I think Mr. Simsion has created a new genre!
Don Tillman presents as an intellectually gifted adult on the autism spectrum. Yet I feel most readers will identify with Don’s behavioural tics. I certainly did! If Don behaved like the main character in the sublime novel, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon, a much darker story would have emerged. As it stands, THE ROSIE PROJECT helps those of us who think we are not on the spectrum to connect with others whose attitudes and actions seem so different from ours.
The supporting cast is intriguingly quirky and the pace quick. Thoroughly enjoyable. The author is currently writing a sequel (?Don and Rosie break up??). A movie studio has bought the rights.
8 out of 10 For readers of Australian fiction and domestic romantic comedy. Highly recommended!
Australian author Moriarty, in her fifth novel (after The Hypnotist’s Love Story), puts three women in an impossible situation and doesn’t cut them any slack. Cecilia Fitzpatrick lives to be perfect: a perfect marriage, three perfect daughters, and a perfectly organized life. Then she finds a letter from her husband, John-Paul, to be opened only in the event of his death. She opens it anyway, and everything she believed is thrown into doubt. Meanwhile, Tess O’Leary’s husband, Will, and her cousin and best friend, Felicity, confess they’ve fallen in love, so Tess takes her young son, Liam, and goes to Sydney to live with her mother. There she meets up with an old boyfriend, Connor Whitby, while enrolling Liam in St. Angela’s Primary School, where Cecilia is the star mother. Rachel Crowley, the school secretary, believes that Connor, St. Angela’s PE teacher, is the man who, nearly three decades before, got away with murdering her daughter, a daughter for whom she is still grieving. Summary BPL
The above summary gives you the skeleton of THE HUSBAND’S SECRET; it’s the flesh of Moriarty’s satire, wit and acuity that brings this complicated set of bones to life.
I will admit that I found it a bit long—although I was sick at the time of reading—but there is no fat to be cut. Moriarty’s quirky details are spot on and her characters’ mental commentaries always have me wondering if she has tapped into my brain! It’s a book about lies, infidelity, revenge, guilt, hope and dreams steered by an author with a wonderful ear for dialogue.
7.5 out of 10 Recommended to fans of domestic and Australian fiction.
Two women meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship. Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. She comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life. Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. Summary BPL
In her acknowledgments Ms Genova writes that she spent two years researching autism: the condition,its impact on families, spousal and filial relationships. But she adds that when you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. In other words, no stereotyping.
I think the author was most successful when writing about Anthony’s parents, the day to day travail of caring for and providing services for a child with autism; the harrowing pain of letting go—expectations, plans and dreams. The chapters in Anthony’s voice seemed to me, at best, wishful thinking.
The Barney touch will have many readers smiling in understanding.
7 out of 10 For readers who enjoy reading psychological fiction, with an interest in autism.
A young medical resident serving out his probation for Xanax abuse by handling public relations for his medical school dean has a choice to make when some campus digging uncovers the bones of dissected African American slaves. Evidently, they had been snatched in the pre-Civil War era by “resurrectionists” paid by the school to find fresh corpses for anatomy training. Summary BPL
What makes this grave-robbing-for-medical-purposes story a compelling read is that the “resurrectionist” and his victims were African American. Not only does Nemo Johnston dig up the bodies, he also prepares them for anatomy classes he himself directs. At a whites only medical college in the southern U.S.
Based on a real life 19th century African American resurrectionist, the novel is well researched historically and medically. Some reviews have described it “grisly” or “souther gothic”; I found it psychologically true to its time and context.
7.5 out of 10 Highly recommended to readers of American and medical history.
We are all completely beside ourselves
One day, a package of junior-sized tampons was left on my bed along with a pamphlet that looked technical and boring, so I didn’t read it.
Nothing was ever said to me about the tampons. It was just blind luck I didn’t smoke them.
Boyden’s spellbinding third novel tells the story of the French conquest of Canada from the point of view of both the conquerors and the conquered. The author divides his story between three narrators, two of them aboriginal, the third a French Jesuit missionary based loosely on Jean de Brebeuf, recognized as a saint following his martyrdom at the hands of the Iroquois. Set in the early 1600s, as the French were exploring today’s Canadian province of Ontario, Boyden’s narrative depicts in compelling detail how the French exploited ancient enmities between the Iroquois and Huron tribes to speed their conquest of New France. The novel abounds in riveting battle scenes and stomach-turning physical torture, but it shines most brightly in quieter passages that root the reader firmly in daily life in a tribal village where the spectre of famine and enemy attack compete with rich family life and a powerful spiritual attachment to the land. Summary HPL
"Orenda": extraordinary invisible power believed by the Iroquois to pervade in varying degrees all animate and inanimate natural objects as a transmissible spiritual energy capable of being exerted according to the will of its possessor.
Initially confusing due to 3 POVs, THE ORENDA is a richly-detailed saga of first contact between the Europeans and the North American aboriginal people. I say “saga” because the people are epic in scale: Champlain, Jean de Brebeuf, the Haudenosaunee (“Iroquois” to the French) and the Wendat (Huron nation). Their war to win control of the vast marketplace that would ensure autonomy to the victors is primarily brutal hand-to-hand combat. No matter that the reader knows how the tale ends, THE ORENDA is hard to put down. When the final result is common knowledge, the story is in understanding “who” and “how”. I feel Mr. Boyden was able to convey the humanity of all involved and so resurrects the truth and power (orenda) of a time too well known and too little understood.
8 out 10 Highly recommended to readers of aboriginal, Canadian, Jesuit and French history and to readers who enjoy literary fiction.