Don Tillman is a genetics professor somewhere in Australia. He is 39 years old and single. He’s in great shape (he does martial arts, he runs, he bikes, he eats well), and he is a pretty good cook. On paper, he’s a great catch.
Don is also extraordinarily meticulous. He plans out his daily schedule to the minute. He eats the same dinner on the same night of the week EVERY SINGLE WEEK. When he meets new people, he works out their BMI in his head, and he will decide not to like you if you smoke. At the beginning of the story, when Don gives a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome, its pretty clear (while never firmly stated) that Don himself has Asperger’s, or something quite like it. Don is lousy in social situations. He doesn’t have much grace when it comes to dealing with the emotional welfare of others. And yet…I quite liked Don and found him to be a very empathetic character. Its pretty much impossible not to root for Don all the way through the story.
Don decides he’s tired of being alone, and that his quirks shouldn’t force him into a life led alone. So he comes up with an intricate questionnaire (The Wife Project) that he posts online, with tons of specific questions that should lead him to the perfect, suitable mate.
And instead, Don meets Rosie. Rosie smokes. She drinks too much. She doesn’t dress the way Don imagines a woman should dress. And — egads! — she dyes her hair. On their first night out, Rosie tells Don about her quest to find her birth father, and the geneticist in Don can’t turn away from solving a puzzle like that.
They embark on what calls “the Father Project” — narrowing down a list of potential suspects, collecting DNA, etc. I enjoyed reading about Don and Rosie and their ridiculous exploits, trying to get swabs of DNA from these unsuspecting men. Sometimes it was a bit much — really, Don climbing out a window and scaling a building in downtown Manhattan was a little overdone for me — but usually it was entertaining.
And of course, it turns out that Rosie is the one for Don. But can she live with his quirks and his inability to love? Can he live with her unsuitable habits?
While I didn’t love it 100% as I had hoped, I still liked it very much and enjoyed reading about Don and Rosie’s adventures and their path to happiness. My one small issue with the book is that it was written as a book simply as a precursor to being a screenplay. And yes, it would totally work as a movie, but I just wish it had felt more natural as a novel. That’s not a huge complaint though — Totally worth the steep $1.99 Kindle price!