Published by Dial Press
Publication date: February 13th 2018
Genres: Chick Lit, Fiction, Humor
With Valentine’s Day coming up this week it felt like the perfect time to review a new novel about marriage from an author I love. Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella is about a couple who have been together for ten years. In the course of getting their yearly physicals for insurance purposes their doctor, who’s a specialist in longevity, informs them that they’re both going to live to be 100. At least. This is great news, right? Yes, but…it means they’ll be married for decades longer than they ever anticipated. And while they’re the kind of gaggy couple that finish each other’s sentences, Sylvie and Dan find this information a bit daunting. They already know everything about each other so how will they possibly stay happily married for another 70 years? Obviously, a plan is needed.
I’m known for not liking implausible plots so my really liking Surprise Me may come as a surprise. Here’s the thing: my expectations for serious fiction are much higher than they are for cotton candy fiction—the kind that is sweet and yummy but melts away. If it’s literary then I need it to be more real than unreal, but when I’m in desperate need of fictional fun, I’m not such a stickler for rules. Somehow that part of my brain goes back to sleep and I can relax and enjoy. The only thing that is non-negotiable? The writing has to be sharp and the humor sharper and Kinsella is a natural at both. So, even when things get silly, I’m fine with it.
In Surprise Me, it is Sylvie who plans, misreads, and hyperventilates her way through trying to make sure her husband stays in love with her forever. But as she does, Dan seems to withdraw and become secretive and soon she doubts everything about their marriage. Kinsella keeps the plot going while maintaining Sylvie’s stream-of-consciousness snippets, which are recognizable to virtually every woman on the planet—and one of the things that makes the women in her novels so relatable. Plus, British slang?! And an ending that wraps up prettily? What’s not to love? In the winter doldrums, Kinsella is like a cup of hot chocolate- you can always count on it (and her) to make you feel comforted.