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The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - BOOKS -

un­nat­u­ral, for ex­am­ple, for a man to lose his tem­per oc­ca­sion­ally and bruise his pretty, cul­ti­vated wife. The char­ac­ters, both child and adult, are lively and bril­liantly ob­served – we know peo­ple and groups just like this – but the book’s big­gest tri­umph is its struc­ture.

Be­gin­ning with the drama of the trivia night, it then goes back six months to the new kinder­garten in­take and the cat­a­lyst of a newly ar­rived fam­ily, a sin­gle mother and her son. Each sec­tion brings us nearer to the trivia-night cli­max, and each is cri­tiqued by that shift­ing cho­rus of play­ers whose brief com­ments – waspish, whiny, brit­tle, com­pas­sion­ate, glee­ful, self-right­eous, ma­li­cious, de­tached – pro­gres­sively flesh out the de­li­ciously nu­anced cast of a grip­ping, en­ter­tain­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing drama.

The world has been ea­gerly await­ing the se­quel to TheRosiePro­ject – the won­der­fully idio­syn­cratic 2013 novel that did be­come an Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non. Graeme Sim­sion’s tale of the Asperg­er­ish ge­neti­cist whose me­thod­i­cal search for a wife was hi­jacked by love gar­nered ec­static plau­dits from read­ers as var­i­ous as Mi­crosoft’s Bill Gates and chick­lit pi­o­neer Mar­ian Keyes.

Don Till­man now has an aca­demic post in New York and new top­ics for per­sonal re­search: the stages of preg­nancy, fa­ther­hood and how to keep his 10-month mar­riage in­tact. The novel slows and loses di­rec­tion in the mid­dle and con­flicted Rosie seems to have taken on some of Don’s emotionally stunted char­ac­ter­is­tics (one won­ders, in fact, whether an au­thor who is adept at por­tray­ing one of the fur­ther ends of the psy­cho­log­i­cal spec­trum is quite as com­fort­able with its more common mid­dle reaches) but Don him­self, pedan­ti­cally sin­gle­fo­cused as ever, is in­creas­ingly charis­matic and the left-field res­o­lu­tion of his prob­lems is as sat­is­fy­ingly cred­i­ble as it is de­light­fully un­ex­pected. Meet Graeme Sim­sion at Matilda Book­shop, Stir­ling, on Oc­to­ber 23 at 7pm. Book at try­book­ing.com/104762

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