In Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella, Sylvie and Dan are commonly looked at by their friends and family as a seemingly perfect couple. They balance their careers with their family life, which isn’t easy with twin girls, and they have an unbreakable bond. So when a yearly visit to their doctor has him pointing out that the longevity in both their families leads him to believe they’ll have about sixty-eight more years together, they should be ecstatic, right? Well…truth be told, it freaks both Dan and Sylvie out to the point that they wonder how in the world they will find enough to talk about, let alone do together, for the next sixty-plus years.
‘Did he just say–
Sixty-eight more years of marriage? To Dan?
I mean, I love Dan and everything, but…
Sixty-eight more years?’
Sylvie comes up with a plan for her and Dan to surprise each other occasionally. Surely that will keep the romance alive and their relationship fresh. The surprises they each plan end up backfiring in one way or another, though, some hilariously so, others a bit more awkwardly so. But it’s when Sylvie begins digging around, finding out Dan is hiding something from her, and with her rather overactive mind running wild that the problems really start. And as one thread unravels leading to another, she has a feeling it would have been better to leave things alone and to not have stuck her nose into the situation.
“It’s not easy, is it?” he says, heavily, as though coming to some almighty conclusion. “Marriage. Love. It’s not *easy*.”
As he says it, Tilda’s words come back to me, and they’ve never seemed so true.
“If love is easy…” I hesitate. “You’re not doing it right.”
Sophie Kinsella knows just how to make a reader smile. Thanks to her quirky characters and their cringingly-real sticky situations, I got more than a few chuckles out of her latest women’s fiction novel, Surprise Me.
‘If life is like a box of chocolates, then getting married is like choosing a chocolate and saying, “That’s it, done,” and slamming the lid closed. When you make your vows, what you’re basically saying is: “That’s all I want, ever. That one flavor. Even if it goes off. Yum. I can’t even see any other flavors anymore, la-la-la.”
I know I’m pretty much guaranteed to be entertained when I pick up a book by Sophie Kinsella so I was very much looking forward to this story. And while it meandered a bit here and there, overall I had a blast with Sylvie, Dan, and the rest of their motley crew of friends and family. The couple’s shock over finding out they’d have almost seventy more years together–based on their physician’s opinion and their genetic awesomeness–was comical. That’s a lot of decades to fill in with…something. And not knowing how they were going to make the best use of their time together freaked Sylvie and Dan out, causing her to come up with the idea to surprise each other, keeping things fun and fresh. Yeah, didn’t really work out as planned. But their efforts were both hilarious and sweet and had me in stitches several times.
Now there were some serious moments of course, one centering around Sylvie’s deceased father’s past and another about Dan keeping secrets from her. I had a feeling where things were headed but I wasn’t sure of the specifics. So the big reveal wasn’t a shock but there were bits that I didn’t see connecting that had me impressed with how Kinsella pulled it all together. As much as I loved Sylvie’s obvious care for her husband and children, her moments of uncertainty and anxiety, and Dan’s protectiveness of his wife and daughter, it was their interactions with the secondary characters that I loved. Sylvie’s coworkers at the museum were an absolute hoot. Her and Dan’s neighbors, Tilda & Toby, and John & Owen were great as well. Their inclusion in the events that took place just added that something extra that made the scenes more realistic and infinitely more meaningful. (And funny, most of the time.)
With a fab cast that will charm you in a heartbeat, Surprise Me was another delightful novel from Sophie Kinsella. I have a feeling that fans and new readers alike will have a grand time with Sylvie and Dan as they navigate the ups and downs of married life.
Publication: February 13th 2018 | The Dial Press |
#1 bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s emotionally charged new standalone novel about marriage and family, and how those we love and know best can sometimes surprise us the most.
After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprises, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.
With a colorful, eccentric cast of characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella crafts a humorous, yet thoughtful portrait of a marriage and shines a light on the danger of not looking past the many layers of the ones you love to discover how infinitely fascinating–and surprising–they truly are.