The Rosie Project  by  Graeme C. Simsion                  12th May 2014
Discussion notes

Using the questions from the back of the book:

1) Agreed it was a logical response for that “type” i.e. dating agency. Don appears to be managing himself and has strategies, however he can and does change his schedule before Rosie forces him into change.
2) We only get Don’s Point of View, agreed that there are signs of a breakdown which may have been rectified by the end of the book. However it’s difficult to understand from an outsider’s point of view.
3) Agree that we don’t think they are total opposites; there is attraction from the start. She appears to be prepared from the begining to understand him.
4) Skipped!
5) Cultural acceptability of partner e.g. wealth. Some similarities and differences – it is possible to grow in and out of similarities.
A discussion was had regarding the Three Questions posed by a Harvard survey to determine compatibility:
a. Do you like Horror films?
b. Have you ever travelled a foreign country alone?
c. Would you chuck it all in and live on a sailboat?
Allows you to gauge difference, tastes and actions and your tolerance to the other person.

Back to The Rosie Project: Degree of capacity of accommodation e.g. change of schedule and was on his own terms. As the book went on there was a greater easing of the rigidity of the schedule. We discussed how realistic was the level of change in the time frame in the book? Also was the level of change solely due to falling in love? Felt that Don’s thought about leaving and opening a cocktail bar was a false note, another point of view is, that offer opened Don’s eyes to other options. There is still a level of precision in cocktail making that utilises Don’s skill set.

Extra Questions:
1) Felt that Karl recognised Don’s ‘difference’ and uses violence/rough & tumble to show emotion.
2) All agreed that Don compromises more than Gene.


Room by Emma Donoghue                                          23rd June 2014

Using the reading group questions: http://www.roomthebook.com/inside/reading-group-guide/ http://www.roomthebook.com/inside/reading-group-guide

1) Only reference points are Ma and the telly, everything else is a Friend.
2) “some” – Ma had no guidance on what to do OR she did know what she was doing and continued to keep up the goodness for her child as there was no baby food. However all agreed it was very odd and quite unsettling.
Also found that there was a very quick/too quick adjustment to other people, i.e. grandparents.
All found the reaction of the father – rejecting both the daughter and the child – as very harsh.
Book has themes of control, both relationships and society
Confusion as to why people have issues understanding Jack’s speech?
Spoke about issues of sensory overload having spent first 5 years indoors. Descriptions regarding his reactions to weather were well described. Also a conversation was had regarding the impact of Room on Jacks development, i.e. height.
Agreed that the escape was risky, but that Jack was very compliant. All were scared that Jack would be buried alive.
All were impressed about how busy Ma and Jack kept. But there were some comments regarding the strict routine, from our previous book The Rosie Project a conversation was had regarding Asperger’s.
Room, makes him feel safe. Outside people have less time, i.e. adults talk in coffee shops and don’t play with children.
All agreed that the return to Room provides closure and allowed Jack and Ma a perspective on life in the outside world. We liked the idea of a wishlist.
The Sunday Treat – there was an acceptance that one day a week there would be a treat. However there was a degree of caution in the requests in order to maintain the treats.
It was noted that the authors other books are based on fairy stories, an interesting discussion was had regarding comparisons between Room and Hansel & Gretel for example.
3) We agreed that we would all miss conversation and being outside, experiencing weather.
4) Jack didn’t get the concept of family. Also a big thing was made of being 5 years old.
Ma’s decision to tell Jack seemed quite cruel, perhaps she’d the end her tether with the situation and Jack’s questions.
Discussed Ma’s gone days as a method of coping. Jack’s understanding of what he should do during those days, was amazing.
Found that when Jack cut his hair as symbolic point, when he came to terms with outside life.
Discussion regarding Jack’s inability to walk up and down stairs – Room didn’t have any!
All impressed by the level of research by the author – how did she envisage everything!
5) Agreed that if we had been in that position, would probably be dead! Signs that Ma had given up, before Jack was born, like her teeth.
Found it a thought provoking book – found kept coming back to small points after having finished the book.
7) Ma had settled into a routine with “old Nick”, tried to keep him sweet as experience showed that if he was annoyed he could make life very difficult for them.
The Sunday Treat is very much a further level of manipulation, all agreed that  we felt Ma wouldn’t ask for a treat for herself but it was really important to Jack.
The lack of back story for “old nick” means that its left to your imagination but also quite deliberate as everything is told from Jack’s point of view and Ma wont tell him.
The name Old Nick could be seen as either a reference to Father Christmas or the devil. Also throughout Jack doesn’t use “real” names for people, i.e. we never find out what Ma’s name is.
9) Felt that the media exaggerated the detail of the story of  Ma and Jack.
Additionally during the tv interview that Ma does, which is for money, she is asked if she didn’t think that Jack’s life wouldn’t be better if he’d been put up for adoption. We wondered if that was the trigger for Ma’s attempt on her life, a realisation that she’ll never get her life back as it was before she was kidnapped. But also that Jack has  been affected by his years in Room.
Also the thought that during the initial period when they got out of Room, another box is created by the media.
We felt that Ma did all she could to keep her and Jack alive and safe, to escape, when they do the media attack them with the desire to make story or get an angle or a reaction to sell papers.

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