I was crazy about The Rosie Project. I fell head-over-heels in love with the main character, Don Tillman, and could not get enough of his dry banter and idiosyncrasies. I also adored his love interest, Rosie, and rooted for their union from the moment they met. Having gobbled up The Rosie Project in a very short time, I was anxious to hear about the next phase of their lives. The Rosie Effect is that next step, and I’m heartbroken to say that while I still love Don to bits, Rosie can climb a rope. What happened?
In The Rosie Effect, Don Tillman and his bride Rosie Jarman are enjoying their new life together in New York. Don, a Genetics Professor, is quite busy with his teaching and research at University, while Rosie continues to work on her PhD. Suddenly, Rosie announces that she’s pregnant.
There’s the plot.
The entire plot.
Rosie is pregnant, and Don must deal with this unplanned next phase of his life, which is catapulting itself at him at lightening speed. Our beloved Don does exactly what you think he would do. He starts researching and planning like a wild man, even going so far as to record children at a local park. (Spoiler: not a good idea. Police frown on this.) For someone who schedules his orange juice intake, an unexpected pregnancy tends to rattle a personality like Don. He’s doing his best to cope. What’s sweetly evident throughout the book is his unwavering love for his wife, whom he still consistently refers to as the world’s most perfect woman.
I beg to differ.
For reasons I cannot comprehend, Rosie goes from a fun-loving and sharp-tongued partner to an emotionless bitch. Sorry – I’m not mincing words here. As soon as Rosie learns that she is carrying this child, every ounce of personality immediately drains from her character. She becomes impatient, snarky, whiny, and terribly mean-spirited. Most stunningly, she decides that Don will be a terrible father, and she must therefore return to their native Australia to raise the child alone. The entire situation is ridiculous. Everything she adored about Don now rubs her the wrong way. And the more Don professes his love, the more distant Rosie becomes. Rosie in this book is a mere shadow of the wonderful persona she embodied in the first installment. I have no idea why Mr. Simsion decided that Rosie should be immensely unlikable in book two, but it made me want to crawl inside the pages and lead Don to a singles bar. He deserved better, and quite honestly, so do the faithful readers of Simsion’s Tillman novels.
In The Rosie Effect, we also see the return of a few other characters from the previous book, most notably, Gene. Gene is Don’s closest friend from Australia, and he joins the sad couple in New York because his wife has finally thrown him out on his ear. (For those who have not read The Rosie Project, Gene had a years-long project of sleeping with a woman from every country, and his wife finally decided that enough was enough. Hence, we find Gene at the stoop, suitcase in hand.) Didn’t think I would see the day when I would prefer Gene to Rosie, but quite frankly, I think I would rather be BFFs with a kangaroo than spend any more time with her.
In order to pen a plot that a reader can buy, there has to be a somewhat believable conflict for the protagonist(s) to overcome. The conflict here was just too shallow. There was nowhere to go. It couldn’t carry the story for a chapter, much less an entire novel. While the first in this series delighted us with its creativity, heart and laugh-out-loud scenarios, The Rosie Effect leaves us just a little bit cold. Will you laugh during this story? Yes, a few times. Don Tillman remains wonderful. Will you also wonder why you’re not being swept away as much as the first time? If you loved The Rosie Project as much as I did, my guess is yes, you will.
It therefore breaks my heart to give this novel 2.5 stars. Will I read the next Don Tillman book? Yes, without a moment’s hesitation. No matter what problems I have with this story (or, lack thereof), I will never try to diminish what Simsion has done to my heart when it comes to Don Tillman. Don was written with great affection by this author, and I have no doubt that the next book in this series will be just as innovative and charming as the first. I’m looking forward to it.
This audiobook was narrated by Dan O’Grady, and he was marvelous. I will always want to hear the Tillman books because of this man’s talent. He IS Don Tillman, and for giving such a fantastic voice to the character, I say thank you!