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.
I went into this book completely cold, picking it up after it was nominated as a read in my Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club. The very first page had me intrigued, and I immediately loved the writing style, so the book was definitely a go. I also perked up when I realised it was set in Australia, and found myself smiling stupidly when I realised it was set in my home town of Melbourne. I enjoyed knowing the names of places, and at one point, Don and Rosie even visit my old university. How about that?
I also enjoyed the premise of this guy, Don, establishing a questionnaire in order to find his ideal wife. His compatibility questions are great and set almost every single woman up for failure but, well, that’s the whole point of the book, isn’t it? From the way the story was set up in the beginning, I assumed this project would be the main focus of the novel, with unconventional Rosie shrugging her way into the picture. And that’s not completely off base, it’s just that the Father Project kind of takes over the Wife Project (as, yes, I realise it says in the blurb) and I didn’t connect with that portion of the book as much as I would have hoped.
I’m not sure where that puts me in regards to my opinion of the book. I liked the characters, I liked the writing but I kind of really hated what happened in the last third of the book. I didn’t like all the backward and forwards, gathering samples, testing, gathering samples, testing, Rosie getting mad for no reason etc and I really didn’t agree with Don’s ‘transformation’ at the end. Not necessarily that it happened, but I think it came about in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons.
The writing and narrations were lovely, and the characters were great, making it an enjoyable read. However, things started to fall apart in the second half of the book and I really disagreed with the ending.