The monthly selection for my local library book club was new to me, and I went into it with an arched eyebrow and a prepared groan: a romance. Not my chosen genre, and one often prone to crazy plot climaxes and “will they won’t they but you know they will” feet dragging. So, I entered prepared and preordained not to like this book, but was pleasantly surprised to find it charming and a new take on an old standard.
Through subtle plot devices we are, early on in the novel, led to the conclusion that our protagonist is an adult with Asberger’s, undiagnosed, who lives a full and regimented life as a genetics professor in England. A slave to his routine, his life is charting along according to plan, but he decides to take one final go at the brass ring of marital bliss, and embarks on the “wife project” which employs a lengthy and meticulous questionnaire in order to find him a partner, or rather, eliminate potential women and ascertain whether it is even possible. What could sound like the premise of a bad rom com is given depth and life by the author, who provides nuance to Don, and his love interest Rosie, and Don’s few friends who do what they can to help him navigate a world that sees him as “wired differently.”
Because of the nature of conflicts in the book, and Don’s struggles in human interactions, we see a real triumph of human spirit, as one man tries to really understand what is possible for him in a world that may not be able to see him for all he is capable of. This is a charming story and hopefully, though I don’t know enough to know, one that dealt with this syndrome with accuracy because at the end, I feel like I learned a lot.