Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publishing Date: 8th February 2018
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 368
Genre: Women’s Fiction
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 Surprise Me, 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 Sophie Kinsella book you can be certain that you’re going to spent some relaxing hours, full of fun and laughter. And guys, let’s be honest, a new Kinsella’s book means bouncing off the walls with excitement, I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like that.
In “Surprise Me” we meet Sylvie and Dan, a happily married couple with twins. They are a match made in heaven, they complete each other perfectly and they even finish each other’s sentences, so great is their marriage. During one of the obligatory health check’s they’re told they’re going to live for a very long time and spent at least the next 68 years together. It freaks them out a little, and so they decide that they’re going to surprise each other from now on, so that their marriage doesn’t go stale and they won’t be boring to each other. However, surprises can go two ways, right – either well or totally wrong, and mostly their surprises went the other way. And well, it also often happens that when you want to surprise your other half, you discover some secrets about them…
I had some problems to engage with the characters – I didn’t warm to them immediately, just like with the other Sophie Kinsella’s characters. I, in fact, didn’t warm to them completely till the very end. Sylvie was for me too spoiled, too self – obsessed and somehow too self – delusional. She just didn’t sound too authentic, and while I know that Kinsella’s characters DO have this element of being too freaky it just didn’t work for Sylvie, a 32 – year – old and mother of two 5 – years – old twins. And Sylvie was just annoying. And the fact that she called her parents “Mummy” and “Daddy” all the time was for me even more annoying. And the fact that she didn’t take Dan’s feeling into consideration and never stopped her “Daddy this” and “Daddy that” was annoying. However, what’s really, really good is the fact that Sylvie grew incredibly throughout the story and started to see things how they really were.
Dan… well, Dan. I had a feeling that he’s mostly absent and I was never really able to connect to him. The twins are mentioned but they’re also not a great part of the story.
Another thing that bothered me so much is the plot itself. The idea of this book was great, so smart and so unique and I couldn’t wait to see how it’s going to unveil and develop. The synopsis promises us a great fun and a long marriage full of surprises, however it funnelled in a totally different direction and it had almost nothing to do with the premise, with the surprises that I was already so thrilled about. It focused mostly on Sylvie’s deceased father and her almost obsession with him, her comparing her husband Dan with her father almost all the time and well, it confused me.
Then I’m not sure I completely understand while Sylvie and Dan panicked at the news that they’re going to spend approximately the next 68 years together, in good health. I personally would weep for joy, however our two characters start to panic at the thought of growing old together. Of having sex with each other. Of living together. Of spending time together. Hello? Why? Instead of happily awaiting what the future bring they turn onto insecure, neurotic, cagey people.
I wouldn’t be fair if I said there weren’t any surprises at all on the way. There were. But they were neither unique nor … surprising.
The final twist about Sylvie’s father… well, it made me roll my eyes, to be honest. I expected more from author this calibre.
So to be totally honest, it was not Sophie Kinsella’s best offer – but of course you’re going to find those elements of Kinsella that you’re used to. There are many hilarious moments but, as usual, there is a depth in this novel as well, and the author so easily and effortlessly switches from light to serious and the other way round. It is full of this Sophie Kinsella’s hallmark charm and humour and fun that captivates me always when reading her books.
Don’t get me wrong, guys. It was not a bad book. But from Sophie Kinsella I was expecting much, much more and I know she can write brilliant books with engaging, quirky characters.
It was the execution that failed here. But I am already looking forward to the author’s next offer.