First things first: The Rosie Effect is a sequel, continuing the story begun in The Rosie Project. And really, if you haven’t read the first book, there’s no point in reading this one.
The Rosie Effect picks up soon after the end of The Rosie Project, following Rosie and Don to Manhattan as they begin their lives as a married couple, with the complications you’d expect from this unusual pair. No sooner have they started settling into their lives — Don as a visiting professor at Columbia Medical School, Rosie finishing up her PhD thesis and entering med school — than a bombshell of a surprise comes along: Rosie is pregnant. And Don is thrown for a loop.
Rosie and Don take very different approaches to pregnancy, of course. Don, ever the man of science, embarks on a plan to maximize Rosie’s health — and Rosie does not take kindly to Don’s constant input on everything from appropriate pregnancy nutrition to stress levels to exercise needs. The marriage is on the rocks, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope.
Meanwhile, Don finds himself in exactly the sort of absurd situations you’d expect. Upon getting advice from a friend that he should spend some time observing children in order to prepare for fatherhood, Don does exactly that… and ends up getting arrested after hanging out in a children’s playground taking videos of the kids playing.
Ultimately, the plot of The Rosie Effect boils down to a headline from a 1980s women’s magazine: Can this marriage be saved?
My reaction to this book is mixed. While there are certainly many amusing scenarios (let’s not forget the Bluefin Tuna Incident!), I’m not at all convinced that a sequel to The Rosie Project was necessary. In The Rosie Effect, it’s really just a lot of more of the same. Don is peculiar, highly intelligent, and emotionally stilted. He does some pretty amazing things, but always from a place of cluelessness. There’s a cast of supporting characters who are funny, unusual, and perfect complements to Don’s oddball nature. Rosie herself seems to be a bit absent in this book; while she’s always around and is on Don’s mind constantly, I wouldn’t have had much sense of her personality or desires without having read the first book.
Basically, everything that I found delightful and charming about the first book is repeated here in the second — and that’s the problem. The Rosie Project was new and different; The Rosie Effect is just a continuation. Without the newness, it’s treading familiar ground, and I simply wasn’t nearly as amused as I was the first time I encountered Don Tillman in all his glory.
The Rosie Effect is a quick read, but I actually think I could have done without it. It definitely picks up by the end, but there’s only so many time similar antics can play out before they become tedious. The Rosie Project was one of my favorite books of 2013, but in my opinion, should have been left as a stand-alone story. Sadly, this unnecessary sequel was mostly a disappointment to me. Still, the author is clearly quite talented, and I hope he’ll tell a new tale in whatever he publishes next.
Title: The Rosie Effect
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: US publication date: December 30, 2014
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy via NetGalley