Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
Published by The Dial Press on February 13, 2018 (expected)
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, women’s fiction
Format & Length: e-book, 448
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#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.
Well, Surprise Me did, in fact, surprise me. Based on the blurb, I expected this to be your typical, run of the mill, chick lit book. And it definitely started out that way. But then it grew to be something more.
From page one, Kinsella grabbed me with her typical charm and humor. It was fun and entertaining to read this story through Sylvie’s narration, which felt like talking to a friend who is funny without trying to be. She makes up words just to describe her husband, like “scrubcious” and “tentery,” and when their meanings are explained, they actually make perfect sense. I connected with Sylvie on multiple levels; probably a good bit to do with the fact that we’re in the same stage of life. But she also had a great character arc and incredible growth throughout the book. And the secondary characters, while less fleshed out than Sylvie, still had some dimension rather than being caricatures.
Where Surprise Me diverged most from a typical carefree chick lit was in its plot. I thought I was a step ahead and knew what was coming, but it wound up going in a very different direction. Not only was it nice to be surprised by this departure, but I enjoyed the suspenseful angle it took, and it kept me invested in the story. I only wish the pacing would have been a bit more even; the first 75% or so didn’t match the last quarter, which flew by much faster than the rest of the book.
A witty and surprisingly touching novel, Surprise Me is an easy read for when you’re looking for something more lighthearted.
*Thanks to the publisher for providing an arc of this edition via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.