Don Tillman, Australian geneticist, approaches life scientifically in every detail. He is grateful that his friend, Gene, suggested a cleaning woman, since now he has 316 extra minutes in his week, time that he can devote to The Wife Project. After exhausting the methods that Gene and his wife Claudia suggested—online dating websites and speed dating—he has drawn up a sixteen-page questionnaire that should filter out any unsuitable candidates. She must be educated, of course, a non-smoker, and a teetotaler, even though Don enjoys drinking himself. He is nervous that he may be developing a drinking problem, so an abstinent wife will help him with self-improvement.
Don’s world tilts on its axis when Rosie shows up, smoking, drinking, and cussing a blue streak. Don can’t imagine why Gene would send him a barmaid as a wife candidate. Didn’t he even read the questionnaire? In any case, he decides to be a good sport and spend some time with Rosie before he ditches her decisively. Rosie, it turns out, is on a Father Project. Her mother has died without revealing the identity of her father, and Rosie feels that she will never understand herself if she doesn’t know her parentage. Since Don is a geneticist, he has access to the lab and all the knowledge necessary to help this beautiful damsel in distress—purely for scientific reasons, of course.
Although a brilliant scientist, Don is a sweetly vulnerable character. In one hilarious episode early in the book, Don is asked to give a lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome when Gene can’t make it, and he does extensive, fascinating research, never connecting the dots back to himself. Even though he seems to operate on pure logic, Don’s unfolding understanding of how his life has molded him into his current situation reveals to him—and to the reader—that cold, practical thinking does not demand a cold, practical heart.
This sparkling novel is already a hit in Australia and will be available in the United States on October 1, 2013. I highly recommend it for everyone, with cautions for foul language. It is written for adults, but would also be terrific for older teens. It will be equally popular with men and women, Big Bang Theory enthusiasts in particular.
Disclaimer: I read an advance reader copy of this book. My opinions are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.