Etta

Review: Surprise Me

Published February 13th 2018, 432 pages

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Overview from Goodreads:

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 reveals they could 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 unshakeable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that questions some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all… 

Personal Review

I chose this novel as a slightly different take on the rom-com/chicklit tale as we start with a married couple compared to a single character. This is my third novel by this author and I found myself still a fan of her general style. This one is a new type of premise by having a married typical couple take center stage and shows how you need to work to keep the spark alive in any relationship.

Sylvie and Dan have been married for 10 years. They both go to the doctor for an exam to find that they are both extremely healthy and will live to be in their 100s. Therefore, they will now have about 68 more years together as a couple. Although they always planned on being together for the rest of their lives, putting a number on it shocks them into trying to figure out if they could survive being married that long. They come up with a plan to surprise each other with random gifts in order to keep the magic going in their marriage. Things, of course, don’t quite go as planned.

Many of the surprises are all about just buying presents for each other. I thought this was a missed opportunity to explore the idea that surprises don’t have to be solely material possessions and you shouldn’t have to rely on spending just to keep a relationship alive. The surprises that did happen in the story were fun to read about as they didn’t always turn out how they thought and seeing the events unfold was an enjoyable time and gave some levity to the story.

There is a more serious tone when it comes to Sylvie’s relationship with her parents (her mother is still alive and her father is now deceased). The number of pages dedicated to the couple was greater; the feeling that they were central just wasn’t there. Although it was nice to mix up the tones of the story, it just didn’t meld together well enough to make it a cohesive story. A lot of the focus remains on Sylvie so you miss out learning about Dan in more depth.

This story had tons and tons of potential because I found the concept of surprising your spouse to help keep the magic in the relationship very refreshing, but it just didn’t live up to all it could be. Sylvie has her faults and experienced some character growth, but overall the story feels like a missed opportunity for that same Kinsella-ness that made the other two novels I read work. I would recommend this if you’re already a Kinsella fan as it might not be motivation enough to pick up another novel by this author. If you enjoy this author’s style and want a nice easy read, then this one would be a great choice.

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