Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: Surprise Me

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Dial Press

A witty and emotionally charged novel that delves into the heart of a marriage, and how those we love and think we know best can sometimes surprise us the most—from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.

The two main characters in Surprise Me are Sylvie and Dan – otherwise known as the married couple that decides to keep their marriage alive by surprising each other for the next sixty-eight years, or, ya know, however long they may live. Sylvie and Dan, and their marriage, were a bit lackluster for me – as well as the entire plot of the book. I was really looking forward to this story, but it just fell flat for me.

I am a very character driven reader – I like them to be deeply developed and I like to see them grow and change. I felt that Dan and Sylvie just lacked development and that extra “umph” to make me really feel connected to them. Sylvie’s voice was boring to me – I felt like she got off on random tangents that really deterred from what Kinsella was trying to do with the story. Dan was also less than enthusiastic about everything and he did nothing that really made me fall in love with him. They both were so melodramatic when it came to sprucing up their marriage – they kept babbling on about how long they would probably live and they didn’t know how they would survive marriage that long – why did you get married in the first place????

Most people I know are huge fans of Sophie Kinsella and her writing. This was the second book I have ever read by her and I must say that I am nowhere near impressed. The first book I read was Finding Audrey and I had the same types of problems with that book that I had with this one – what was the freaking point?! I felt like the writing was so superfluous and the chapters were longer than they really needed to be. Did you she really need 416 pages to tell this story? Nothing really happens until about 100-200 pages in anyway. The writing was not impressive and the dialogue was not enjoyable either. I love a good witty, romantic dialogue between characters, but this never happened for me either.

I did, however, like reading about their family, especially their twin daughters. I felt that Kinsella really covered family dynamics well. I love how she incorporated small snippets into their lives as parents and how well they worked together to raise their girls. This was, sadly, the best part of the novel for me.

It’s all pretty tough. And it hasn’t gotten any easier.

Sometimes you need to poke things with a stick.

I take a swig of chardonnay, my mind swirling around to a conclusion. Because it’s actually rather easy. We need surprises. That’s what we need. Surprises. We need to be jolted and entertained and challenged with lots of little surprises.

I head over to Dan, put my arms around his neck, and smile up at him affectionately. “Surprise me.”

I wanted to fall in love with this book just in time for Valentine’s Day, but unfortunately, I will not be recommending this book to you all today. All parts of the story fell flat for me. I was especially turned off by how off topic Sylvie got in her thoughts and dialogue with other characters. I felt like many details could have been spared and this could have been a shorter book.

I am not saying that I will never try another Sophie Kinsella novel; I want to because I know there is not all this hype surrounding her books for nothing – I think I just need to find the right one for me. In the meantime, I am hoping my next read goes better than this one.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Dial Press in exchange for my honest review*** 

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