Tag Archives: romance fiction

“The Rosie Project: A Novel” by Graeme Simsion

I read this novel because I watched someone react to it – she kept laughing. The premise (“it isn’t easy being autistic”) isn’t funny. I enjoyed The Rosie Project much more than I expected. It’s funny AND engaging.

Don Tillman is an autistic genius with a research and teaching appointment in genetics at an Australian university. He knows that his social skills are lacking. Deciding that life would be better with a wife, he designs a questionnaire that he expects will find him the ideal candidate. He also knows he needs practice in dating and socializing. A friend throws a “wildcard” candidate at him. Rosie fails to qualify according to several of Don’s criteria, but she attracts his interest.

Don refers to his quest as The Wife Project. Rosie has a quest of her own, The Father Project. She wants to find her genetic father.

Don and Rosie adventure boldly together, despite the confusion generated by their wildly different mental habits, and form an intense romantic bond.

Recently I read an article (on Facebook?) about the concept of “cognitive diversity”. It has been suggested that problem solving by groups would be improved by the intentional inclusion of people on the autism spectrum. In theory, the differences in the world view should improve decision making outcomes.

I have a further suggestion. What about brain injury survivors? Surely a person who makes a comeback from a major brain injury has a brain that is “different”, with major use of alternative pathways and other “work arounds”. Might he or she see something important in a situation that others would miss?

Meanwhile, I’m going to download Simsion’s next book, The Rosie Effect, against my next train trip or rainy afternoon. Or for when I need a good laugh.

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“The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O’Brien” by Oscar Hijuelos

This book is the saga of a family, starting in the late 1800s in Ireland but taking place mostly in the United States. Nelson O’Brien left Ireland in 1896 and traveled to Cuba as a photographer in 1898 during the Spanish American War. In Cuba, he fell in love with and married Mariela Montez. They settled in Pennsylvania and raised a family of fourteen daughters and one son. O’Brien was a successful entrepreneur, keeping his family “comfortable” or at least approximately in the middle class.

The love between Nelson and Mariela never wavers. Their household is described as busy, noisy, happy and overwhelmingly female.

The main theme of this book is gender, or perhaps the female gender. O’Brien and his son live in a sea of femininity. Each seems alternately happy and baffled. The Montez O’Brien sisters follow many different paths – happy marriage, unhappy marriage, no marriage, teaching, performing, etc. The lone son worked as an actor and later became a photographer like his father. The son “discards” his Cuban heritage by acting under an anglicized stage name.

On the issue of gender, the Montez O’Brien family is tilted sharply towards the female, but other polarities are more even.

In appearance, some of the sisters are Irish, while others strongly resemble their Cuban mother. America is those years was prejudiced against both groups, but dark skin and curly hair were more unfavorably regarded.

The family was also “split” by language. Mariela never became comfortable speaking English, and mostly retreated to dignified silence outside the family. The older sisters were fluently bilingual, but the younger ones, raised more by their big sisters than their mother, never really learned Spanish, and hence were handicapped in understanding their mother and her family. Their efforts to learn Spanish later in life never seemed successful. One sister went to live in Cuba, but none lived in Ireland and few visited there.

This book is full of vivid, sensual images and emotions. The Pennsylvania house, in particular, is described so clearly I felt like I was living there.

Read this book if you like romantic fiction or family histories, or are interested in immigration and the sociology of America from 1900 to about 1960.

“Back to the Bedroom” by Janet Evanovich – beach reading!

I’ve got a soft spot for Janet Evanovich. After all, I live in New Jersey. Trenton, where she locates her long series of Stephanie Plum novels, is not exactly my “territory”, but business (NJ government) and pleasure (minor league baseball) get me there a few times each year.  It’s just as bad as she says.

“Back to the Bedroom” is set in Washington DC. Not as much fun. But the plot is pure boy-meets-girl romance and has plenty of laughs. Our heroine in an intense professional cellist, her neighbor a low key goofball who got rich by winning the lottery. Heroine finds time for life outside of music, neighbor has more on the ball than first appears, and love blossoms. 

When I want to relax, what else do I need?

For anyone who wants to go outside the familiar Stephanie Plum numbered series, in addition to “Back to the Bedroom”, I highly recommend “Visions of Sugar Plums”, JE’s Christmas novel. Hilarious!