Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary romance from best selling author Sophie Kinsella. I’ve always enjoyed her contemporary romances, including MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE, but SURPRISE ME is a little different. The characters are…married. Yep! They are married, together ten years, and facing, clearly, 68 more years together. And, that’s a daunting rut to fall into isn’t it…
About the book:
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.
This book opens with a jolt: a wife finding something hidden by her husband. Something shocking, and guaranteed to set her idyllic marriage off-kilter. We don’t get to see what she found, only that it was a game-changer. And then, we pan out. Go back a bit. Gain context, but long do we wonder: what did she find!
Sylvie and Dan have been together ten years, married seven, and have twin daughters aged four. They are in sync in many ways, filling in sentences and gaps in conversations with little trouble. Sylvie thinks Dan is predictable, and perhaps the side he shows her is…but when they hit the doctor for a couples life insurance exam they are both struck by the doctor’s decree that they, being active healthy adults, will likely live to be 100, maybe 102, and that means 68 more years of wedded bliss. To each other.
It’s a jarring moment, and provokes some deep thinking, at least on Sylvie’s part, of how they can transform their comfortable/cozy marriage into one that can stand the test of so many years. Should they spice it up in the bedroom, or out of it? Should they take up common interests–or not? Why is Dan so frustrated with discussions of money, and why does it seem he’s hiding some rather important issues from her. In the midst of this Sylvie’s job is under intense scrutiny. She works for a historical society that is squarely lumped in the Victorian age, and is in dire straits financially. Is she about to lose her job, and her husband?
I really dug this one. It’s more mature story about the hard parts of marriage, the daily trench work of loving one person day-in and day-out without focusing on the petty issues all the time. It’s building a love that lasts, no matter the difficulties. That said, there are some funny bits, including a boudoir photo shoot that might scar a young neighbor to his bones. Turns out Dan had some pretty dark secrets that were kept out of love and esteem for Sylvie’s family, and which were eroding their core of trust. I liked how all that turned out, in truth. The twist of those secrets opened Sylvie’s eyes to the cost of love, and the blind faith we often place in the people close to us. It gave her a new appreciation for Dan, and how much he’s struggled to be the husband he, and her parents, expected she would want.
There are fun revelations, too, which include building relationships with new friends, and following old passions–like Dan reclaiming his love of gardening, even if it means reconnecting with his first love–in responsible ways. Sylvie’s a fun and suspicious character to follow, sure she’s got wool pulled over her eyes, but unable to see what’s made her blind is not what she expects to find. In the end, she and Dan are sure that they’d spent another 68 years together if given the chance. Because, longevity expectation aside, we really have no idea how many days we will walk this earth. Best to love hard and fierce while you can.
Interested? You can find SURPRISE ME on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. It’s surely on sale at local bookstores, big-box retailers and likely already on the shelf at your library. I received a review copy via NetGalley.
About the Author:
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!