The Rosie Project – Guide

About the Author

Graeme Simsion

Graeme Simsion was born in Auckland and is a Melbourne-based writer of short stories, plays, screenplays and two non-fiction books. The Rosie Project began life as a screenplay, winning the Australian Writers Guild/Inscription Award for Best Romantic Comedy before being adapted into a novel. It went on to win the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript and has since been sold around the world to over forty countries. Sony Pictures have optioned the film rights with Graeme contracted to write the script. The Rosie Project won the 2014 ABIA for Best General Fiction Book, and was ultimately awarded Australian Book of the Year for 2014.



The feel-good novel of 2013, The Rosie Project is a classic screwball romance.

Don Tillman is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet.

But he has designed the Wife Project, using a sixteen-page questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent and beautiful. And on a quest of her own to find her biological father—a search that Don, a professor of genetics, might just be able to help her with.

The Wife Project teaches Don some unexpected things. Why earlobe length is an inadequate predictor of sexual attraction. Why quick-dry clothes aren’t appropriate attire in New York. Why he’s never been on a second date. And why, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love: love finds you.



Shearer’s Bookshop Chat with Graeme Simsion

Published on Jan 15, 2013




The Story of My Book: The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion | 6 FEB 2013

Good writing, they say, is re-writing. I re-wrote The Rosie Project, beginning to end, at least seventy times…[Read More]


Fun Quizzes

Which Character are you?
Are You Compatible with Don?


New Vocab

“I love food, but I don’t know a lot of “foodie” vocabulary. Stop by and I’ll explain what a sommelier is, thanks to Graeme Simsion and his fun book The Rosie Project.” 

~ posted on Diary of a Word Nerd



Asperger’s Test

An Aspergers test is a good first step in determining if you or someone you care about may have an autism spectrum disorder.


Discussion Questions

“Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em think.”


Source: The Text Publishing Company

Downloadable PDF

  1. The Rosie Project is about becoming open to seeing things from a different angle: Don must reconsider his strict criteria in order to find love, Gene needs to revaluate his behavior in order to save his marriage, and Rosie has her own set of prejudices and expectations to overcome in terms of Don and her non-biological father, Phil. What was stopping the characters from making these discoveries earlier? Did the novel change your own perspective on anything?
  1. Don describes people with a scientific level of detail, yet makes very few assumptions about their personality based on their appearance. As a reader, did you find yourself reading between the lines to make your own judgments? Were there any instances when you misjudged someone based on what Don did or didn’t say?
  1. Don’s 16-page questionnaire for prospective partners elicits a very different reaction from Rosie and Bianca. Rosie is offended and claims that it objectifies women, while Bianca says it is nice to finally meet a man who is more interested in her than himself. What do you think?
  1. Does the humor in the novel come from Don’s awkward responses to social situations or the absurdity of falling in love in general? Do you feel as though you are laughing with Don or at Don?
  1. Don says: ‘Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others.’ Pg 93. What are some of the things that the characters in The Rosie Project fail to see that are obvious to you?
  1. At the conclusion of the Father Project, were you surprised to discover who Rosie’s real father was?
  1. Don changes as the book progresses—he begins to relax some of his rigid standards. This is shown in his interaction with Kevin Yu. What are some other examples? Do you think that the changes are solely due to Rosie’s influence?
  1. Imagine the book had been written from Rosie’s perspective. Would it have been as enjoyable? Would you have understood Don’s actions and behavior had he not been the narrator?
  1. What was your favorite scene in the novel? Why?
  1. Rosie’s belief that Don can’t feel love makes her reluctant to be in a relationship with him. He tells her that he does feel love — it’s the ability to empathize that he struggles with. Do you agree that empathy and love are two separate things? Do you think Don can feel love?
  1. At what point do you think Rosie starts to view Don as a prospective partner? Did your own feelings towards Don change at a particular point in the novel?
  1. What conclusions did you make about Don’s character from his description of his relationship with Daphne?
  1. On a number of occasions Don makes reference to Gene’s affairs in front of Claudia. Do you think Don has a full understanding of how Gene and Claudia’s marriage operates? Why do you think Claudia puts up with Gene’s affairs?
  1. The Rosie Project can be read as a novel about tolerance and acceptance, but it also makes a case for people to take control of how others perceive them and change their behavior if necessary. Do you agree with this view? To what extent do you think Don changes himself for Rosie?


Source: Litlovers

1.  Do Don’s Asperger’s conditions help him or hinder him? Does Don’s having Autism offer any advantages in his life?

2.  Don goes through a number of spectacularly bad dates. What have been some of your own dating nightmares?

3.  Where do you fall on the spectrum between structure and chaos in life? Are you highly rigid in your routines or very relaxed?

4.  Do you agree with Don’s assessment that “humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others”? (p. 88)

5.  What do you think of Gene and Claudia’s relationship? Do you know anyone in an open marriage? Can it work?

6.  Don says that the happiest day of his life was spent at the Museum of Natural History. Do you have a happiest day of your life? Or is there a special place where you are happiest?

7.  As Don’s affection for Rosie grows, he becomes aware of his instincts overriding reason. What is the role of instinct versus reason when it comes to choosing a life partner?

8.  Do you have anyone on the Autism spectrum in your life?

9.  Don watches a number of movies to try to learn about romance, including When Harry Met Sally, The Bridges of Madison County, An Affair to Remember, and Hitch. What are your top five romantic movies?

10.  Have you ever had a moment of breaking out of your routine and opening up in a significant way? Or has someone broken through your routine for you?

11.  Is it smart to have a list of criteria for a potential partner or is it limiting?

12.  Don gets in trouble with the dean for using the genetics lab for his personal project with Rosie. Is it ever okay to break the rules in order to help someone?

13.  Do you feel happy for Don when he “eliminates a number of unconventional mannerisms” (p. 268) in order to win Rosie, or has he lost something?

14.  Does Gene get his comeuppance?

15.  Were you surprised at the ultimate revelation of Rosie’s biological father? Did you suspect someone else?
(Questions 1-15 issued by publisher.)

Additional Questions by LitLovers

16. After his lecture on Aspergers, Don confronts Julie with what he considers her lack of understanding: earlier, she obliquely refereed to Aspergers as a “fault”—as in “[it’s] something you’re born with. It’s nobody’s fault.” She also worries that the nickname “Aspies” will get “them thinking it’s some sort of club.” How do Don and Julie view Aspergers? Do you agree with Don’s approach…or Julie’s?

17. Follow-up to Question 12: Don comes to see that morality and ethics are nuanced. What brings him to this point? And is morality nuanced? Is there such a thing as a purely moral/ethical stance, as Don has, up to this point, always believed?

18. Don accuses Gene of being just like him. One would hardly consider Gene autistic, so what does Don mean? In what way are the two men similar?

19. SPOILER ALERT: Don comes to the realization that he loves Rosie. Does he? Is he capable of the same kind of love as those of us feel who are low on the autism spectrum? Don realizes he feels happiness with her…is that the same as love? Or is his concept of love—compatibility and pleasure in each other’s company—a better basis for marriage than deep feelings? Will Don’s love, or his idea of love, be satisfying for Rosie over the long haul? What do you think?

20. SPOILER ALERT: Follow up to Question 17: Don has autism. How would you rate the chances for a happy marriage between Don and Rosie? What problems might they encounter? Is the book’s ending overly optimistic, too much like a fairytale? Or is the ending based on optimism tinged with realism?

21. Overall, talk about the changes that Rosie precipitates in Don? In some ways, this novel can be seen as an adult coming-of-age story. How does Don grow over the course of the novel…not just the changes in his appearance or social behavior but in his essentials?




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