The Rosie Project: Summary, Themes, Characters & Synopsis

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About the Novel- The Rosie Project

TitleThe Rosie Project
AuthorGraeme Simsion
Publication Date2013
PublisherPenguin Books
No. of Pages304 Pages
GenreRomantic Comedy, Contemporary
SettingMelbourne, Australia
Main CharactersProfessor Don Tillman, Rosie Jarman,
Gene Tillman (Don’s friend)


The characters from “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion are:

  1. Don Tillman ➜ A smart but socially awkward genetics professor who wants to find a wife using science.
  2. Rosie Jarman ➜ A fun and adventurous bartender who helps Don on his quest and is searching for her biological father.
  3. Gene Tillman ➜ Don’s friend and colleague who is more outgoing and social than Don.


The themes of “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion are:

  1. Love and Compatibility ➜ This novel is about how two people, who seem very different, can still fall in love and be good for each other.
  2. Acceptance and Differences It shows how important it is to accept and appreciate people for who they are, even if they don’t fit the usual mold.
  3. Being Yourself It teaches us that it’s okay to be ourselves and that we don’t always have to follow strict rules or plans to find happiness.
  4. Friendship and Relationships The story shows us the value of friendships and how they can sometimes turn into something even more special, like love.
  5. Communication It highlights how talking openly and honestly with others can solve problems and bring people closer together.
  6. Understanding Others The novel reminds us that taking the time to understand someone’s perspective can lead to better relationships and less misunderstandings.


The Rosie Project is a novel about a man named Don who is really smart but not so good at talking to people. He wants to find a wife, so he makes a big list of questions to find the perfect woman. But then he meets Rosie, who is nothing like what he’s looking for. She’s on a mission to find her real dad.

Together, they go on lots of adventures and learn about love and being different. Don starts to realize that you can’t plan everything, and sometimes, love happens when you least expect it. It’s a funny and sweet story about two people who are very different but perfect for each other.


Don Tillman is a brilliant and accomplished professor of genetics, yet he struggles to fit in with society outside of the academy. He is unable to perform all of the social behaviors necessary to blend in. He has some sort of Asperger’s syndrome, which shows itself as social awkwardness, an inability to read cues, signs of OCD, and other behaviors.

Don would want to be married, but he has a hard time getting to know and bond with women. He creates a scientific questionnaire he refers to as “The Wife Project” to identify his ideal spouse. The questions are intended to elicit responses that, when added together, will result in the most compatible match for him. Gene, Don’s best buddy and a cheating ladies’ man at the university thinks Don has to be more adaptable. Gene arranges for a doctoral student named Rosie to meet Don; she is the exact antithesis of what Don is searching for, yet for some reason, Don ends up liking her company.

Rosie is obsessed with identifying her birth father when they first meet. Her now-deceased mother revealed to Rosie that Phil, the man who had nurtured Rosie her whole life, is not her biological father and that she had slept with a classmate the night she graduated from medical school. Don designs a Father Project that should disclose Rosie’s parents’ identity after becoming fixated on helping her identify her birth father. Together, they collect DNA samples from other males who attended the same high school as Rosie’s mother. Don then analyses these samples to determine if they match Rosie’s genetic makeup. Rosie and Don finally fly to New York City together after getting to know each other quite well via their attempts to collect DNA samples from as many individuals as possible.

Don is discovered using lab apparatus at the university where he works to examine the DNA samples when they return from New York. He is thus dismissed from his position. Don realizes that he loves Rosie about the same time. To attempt to improve himself in the hopes that Rosie will feel the same way, he devises a plan to imitate the actions he believes those who are in passionate love do. 

Additionally, he meets Phil, through whom he receives new insight into Rosie’s account of their relationship and her background. Don even succeeds in regaining his work after receiving considerable financing for a research project. However, Rosie is disturbed that he is acting dishonestly and does not believe that he truly feels love for her when he confesses his affections to her.

Don understands that he has value and does not need to pretend to be someone else, even if he is devastated that Rosie has rejected him. This time, Rosie says yes to his marriage proposal. In the end, Rosie and Don decide to relocate to New York City together and get hitched. Additionally, they do tests on the remaining samples and discover that Phil, the guy who raised Rosie, is her biological father.


What is the message of The Rosie Project?

The message of The Rosie Project is that love is not always logical or predictable.

Is The Rosie Project about autism?

The Rosie Project is a novel about a man named Don, who is brilliant but also has social difficulties. Many readers believe that Don is autistic, but the author does not explicitly state this in the novel.

What food is mentioned in The Rosie Project?

The most commonly mentioned food in Graeme Simsion’s novel The Rosie Project is lobster salad.

How does The Rosie Effect end?

In the end, Don and Rosie reconcile and move to New York City, where they are expecting their first child. Don has a new job, and Rosie is continuing her studies. They have learned to love and accept each other for who they are, and they are determined to build a happy life together.

Is there a sequel to the Rosie project?

Yes, there is a sequel to The Rosie Project, called The Rosie Effect.

About the Author- Graeme Simsion

NameGraeme Simsion
Birth DateJanuary 19, 1957
BirthplaceAuckland, New Zealand
Education– Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Business Administration from
Monash University, Australia
– Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Melbourne, Australia
CareerBefore becoming a novelist, Graeme Simsion worked as a consultant and educator
in the field of information systems. He also wrote academic textbooks in his field.
Famous Works– The Rosie Project (2013)
– The Rosie Effect (2014)
– The Best of Adam Sharp” (2016)
– Two Steps Forward (2017, co-authored with Anne Buist)
– The Rosie Result (2019)
Writing StyleGraeme Simsion’s writing style is known for its humor, heart, and relatable.

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