Surprise Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

A couple, when faced with the idea of 68 more years of marriage, try to shake things up a bit by “surprising” each other. But each surprise doesn’t quite work out as expected.
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Excellent, light heated read. I am normally favor psychological thrillers, but every now and then, I need a something light and humorous in between. Surprise Me, was the perfect go to! The main character Sylvie had me laughing out loud, her hysterical worrisome thoughts, hiding from her husband as she is trying on a sweater, to obsessing about the future of her marriage. While Surprise Me, is basically a fun, light read not to be taken too seriously, I loved that the characters were so well developed, and surprisingly had a wonderful unexpected ending!
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Surprise Me by Sophia Kinsella is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early April.

A woman named Sylvie questions the relationship between her and her husband, Dan. It's all very snappy, British, and plainspoken with sardonic bon mots, while they work together to inject a sense of romance and spontenaity to their committed lifelong relationship within their progressive, busy social lifestyle. At first, their efforts seem a bit materialistic with some good/exact choices, others wrong, totally off, and/or poorly timed, before their stress ramps up with the possibility of an affair....
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Surprise Me started off strong with Sophie’s wonderful voice shining through. I was dying from the beginning with laughter. I was really enjoying it until about the middle. Some things fell flat with me and some were drawn out way too much. I don’t want to give anything away about the story, but I was a little disappointed. I also had some unanswered questions at the end. Overall, this is a fun book to read and you will laugh.
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Rating: 2.5

Sophie Kinsella's books are tricky. Her writing is good, but there are other elements that make them less than ideal, whether it be facets of the plot, the characters, or pacing. In the case of Surprise Me, it was primarily a mixture the characters with a bit of the pacing thrown in.

The premise itself, keeping a marriage interesting over the course of six plus decades, has some interest. While there is the inevitable change in human nature, there's also the thirst for fun and having that fun together is part of spending all that time as a partnership. It took awhile for the surprise idea to actually show up, 24% of the Kindle version as my notes serve. Once they did, that's when the trouble began and I couldn't decide whether the ways they went awry were wholly believable or dementedly twisted to make for a "fun" book. The one that irritated me the most was the pet. Who the heck gets someone a pet as a surprise? That was beyond a bad movie and I feel bad for poor Dora (the pet snake that now resides in the kitchen).

The surprises also didn't actually stick around for that long. Considering the fanfare they got in the synopsis, I was expecting more. Considering the late arrival and early departure of the titular surprises, what does it say about the plot that they're not really the thing we're steered toward caring about? It felt like a switch around because I thought the surprises were meant to be the main thing, then a mean new boss was introduced, but he also faded into the background and the novel became about Sylvie being a stereotypical suspicious wife that made broad assumptions and made grand leaps that were ridiculous.  I couldn't see real people acting like she did, particularly at the finale.

Sylvie and Dan's reaction to the "you've got a good chance at spending the next sixty-eight years together" was blown entirely out of proportion. Maybe it would've been time for some thought, but this is literally what you sign up for when you get married. Being the same age as them, I felt like there were moments when I would've stared at them incredulously and wondered what the bloody hell they were thinking.

They felt like just the sort of couple I might strongly dislike if I met them in real life. Sylvie was largely judgmental and seemed to think it was alright because she didn't make these comments aloud. There were criticisms of everyone from the people around her like her boss and her neighbors to sexist comments about her husband (which she insisted weren't but were). There were more little niggling things that bugged me about both of them, such as their fights about money (somewhat complex because of family inheritances/backgrounds, etc.) and their job decisions. A lot of it comes back to communication.

The way these two were written, it became painfully more obvious that these "problems" they were having? Whatever difficulty came up post-doctor visit, it was all very much first world, heteronormative white people problems that were utterly ridiculous.  I didn't feel much sympathy because they were being supercilious and it was their own fault for not talking to each other. 

There's an issue I had with the way either grieving or mental illness was handled in the course of the book. Following a death in the family two years prior to the start of the novel, Sylvie had a rough time coping. She either had an "episode"/meltdown or was grieving, depending on who you asked. At one point Tilda, Sylvie's neighbor/best friend, says that she thinks Sylvie was just grieving and it wasn't an "episode".

While I agree that Dan and her mum protected her too much, they were around the situation quite a bit more than Tilda. The pre-book death, a car crash, lead to Sylvie's showing up unannounced and staring at the house of the other party involved in the accident, as well as sending a letter the other party's family that they found threatening, which leads me to believe that Dan and Syvlie's mum might have been more on the side of right than Tilda. However, given this excuse to make herself all better, Sylvie swoops at it and ignores all protestations. I'm not sure a proper resolution/answer/conclusion was really talked about here, even after she does start therapy because that course of action is in relation to something else.

In conclusion, Surprise Me  felt like a stretch of the imagination in terms of believability. Whether anyone will really stick with what they learned in the end is debatable because there's a "happy" ending, but it felt forced. One quote from Sylvie stood out to me shortly before the close:

“Dan …” I say more gently. “No one actually knows. We could have seventy-two more years together . Or two. Or two days.”

That entire quote should have flashed in their heads at the beginning.
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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella is a cute story, not my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy it. I decided to take it for a vacation and it was really perfect for this past week. I was pretty busy, but looked forward to relaxing with the story each evening. The premise of the book is a couple's doctor telling them they have long healthy lives ahead and the couple freaking out about being with each other for so many more years. They come up with a plan to surprise each other to keep things "fresh", that's when the funny parts of the book begin. Sophie Kinsella is good at writing about characters having things happen that are small, yet quite giggle-worthy. She doesn't disappoint in Surprise Me.
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When I read the synopsis for this novel, I knew I had to read it.  Dan and Sylvia had it all, life was great until the day they realized what their wedding vows actually meant. Their physician told the couple that they could plan on spending 68 more years together. Sixty-eight more years! Till death do us part is more years than they thought. The news stuns the couple, Sylvia more than Dan. How could they keep what they had alive for 68 more years?  Dan had his own answers and Sylvia had hers.  Sylvia felt that as a couple, they had become too predictable and to shake things up and make them exciting, they needed to start surprising each other. 

I have read a few of Sophie’s novels before but I had a problem with this one.  Perhaps it was the mood I was in but I thought parts of the novel were a bit juvenile for the adult characters. I know Sylvia was trying to jazz things up but she went to the extreme on a few of them and to me, they went beyond funny.  I wanted to tell her to stop, we saw the humor but going beyond that, was just nonsense. 

I liked how as the couple tried to surprise their partner, the reality of what they knew about each other materialized. They thought they knew everything about each other until they had to actually act upon it.  Sylvia overthinks each situation whereas Dan underthinks each situation.  To Sylvia, it’s a grand production but to Dan, it’s the gesture.  

Pulling parents into this story we find that Sylvia and Dan come from different households. Sylvia, daddy’s little princess, has always had money at her disposal whereas Dan came from a family where individuals worked to make a decent wage.  This reflects in their personality and in how they handle different situations that present themselves.  

I found this novel entertaining and comical. Although this wasn’t my favorite of Sophie’s works, I did enjoy the story and I liked the ending.  3.5 stars

I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Random House in exchange for an honest review.
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Sorry but I couldn't get into the book at all. I tried though, I'm so sorry for my ADD brain.
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You can never go wrong with losing yourself in a Sophie Kinsella novel. I have loved everything she puts out and Begin Again was just so good. Such classic Sophie writing that had me both swooning and cracking up. The story was just so fun, so cute, I just loved this book so much.
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I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was pleasant to read and the characters were well developed and likeable. After reading some heavier books lately this one came at a perfect time. This is the story of Dan and Sophie. They have recently paid a visit to the doctor where he foretold that they would live another 68 years. This caused a bit of a panic in them. They currently have a very stable and successful marriage but the thought of that many more years together was a bit of a shock. They decide to add some intrigue to their marriage by planning surprises for each other to make their marriage less structured and more spontaneous. The surprises are a fun part of the story. Sophie meanwhile starts to suspect Dan has a secret he is keeping from her. The two of them have always been in sync with each other but now Sophie isn’t sure what is happening with Dan as he begins to pull away from her. As Sophie tries to solve this she realizes there is a lot about Dan and their marriage she was unaware of. I really felt engaged with this book and Sophie and Dan’s journey.
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I've been a Sophie Kinsella fan since I first read Confessions of a Shopaholic way back in 2000- hard to believe that was 18 years ago! While I adored Becky and her hijinks, and a Becky reread is always a good palate cleanser, I enjoyed this more true-to-life portrait of a couple 10 years into their marriage. Although I'd definitely categorize this as a fluffy read, Surprise Me took a turn and ended up being quite a bit deeper than I expected- and I felt the ending was quite a surprise indeed. Fans of Kinsella will enjoy Sylvie and her zany antics and trademark Sophie Kinsella humor.
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Sylvie and Dan have been together for so long that they can finish each other’s sentences. One comment from their doctor at their annual visit that they’ll likely have almost 70 more years of marriage throws them into an emotional tailspin. They vowed to be together forever so they decide to cope by surprising each other with random and fun ideas. However, the biggest surprise ends up unveiling a huge secret. Will they still be together forever?

Typical of a Sophie Kinsella book, Surprise Me had my cheeks either aching in pain from laughing so hard or burning from secondhand embarrassment from Sylvie’s mishaps. Sophie Kinsella has also crafted a wonderful tale by portraying several of the different types of love through varying characters. Eros (sexual) love with Sylvie and Dan, Philia (friendship) love with her neighbor Tilda, Storge (familial/parental) love with their daughters, Agape (altruistic) love with their elderly neighbors on the other side, and Ludus (playful and/or flirting) with Robert. These many characters blend into a fun plotline that hit me with a MEGA surprise plot twist.

I highly recommend this book for any adult looking for a fun romance that balances the seriousness of the effects of grief and misunderstandings. My favorite characters were the elderly couple that lived next door and had such pure love and both came across as genuinely sweet.

I would not recommend this book for anyone who might be triggered or offended by the following: grief, parental death, sexually suggestive scenarios, and foul language.

Please note: an electronic ARC of this novel was generously provided through the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Nice mystery. Funny. Great characters.

I had a feeling there was something with her dad, she idolized him too much.

The surprises were pretty amusing.

4 Stars
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Sophie Kinsella’s Surprise Me is a funny little British tale of keeping a marriage alive in spite of itself

“Why is life like this? Just as you relax and start enjoying yourself, smiling, having fun … life looms up like a mean teacher in the playground shouting, ‘Playtime is over!’ and everyone trails off to be miserable and bored again.”  

In Sophie Kinsella’s 20th novel, routinely married couple Dan and Sylvie are 32, celebrating 10 years of a mostly happy partnership and five-year-old twin daughters when a well-meaning doctor shocks them with the “good” news that they could likely live for another 68 years together. 68 YEARS. TOGETHER. A bit frightened and rather pessimistic, they embark on the ill-fated idea of surprising each other to keep things fresh. In spite of how well they think they know each other (enough to bore), misunderstandings and hurt feelings ensue, natch, and changing it up when “it” isn’t broken so much as sore uncovers the unhealthy default modes each of them have been relying on for too long.

She has things she’s withholding and he has his own secrets: “He’s searched for her in various different ways: Mary Holland. Mary Holland job. Mary Holland husband. One might ask: Why does he need to know about Mary Holland’s (as it happens, nonexistent) husband? But I’m not going to be so undignified as to bring the subject up. But I’m not that needy. I’m not that kind of wife.

Instead, I deliberately googled one of my old boyfriend–I typed in Matt Quinton flash job big car really sexy–and left my laptop out on the kitchen table. As far as I could tell, Dan didn’t even notice. He is so annoying.”

Good times. The book opens mysteriously and that plays out later, keeping the pages turning, and one can easily see this novel successfully played out on the big screen no matter the financial climate (unlike Kinsella’s Shopaholic series).

Wendy Ward
http://wendyrward.tumblr.com/
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This is Kinsella’s best yet! A witty, fast paced chick lit novel with lots of fun surprises! I thoroughly enjoyed this one and would recommend it to chick lit and women’s fiction fans.
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Captivating, romantic, entertaining novel! The plot and characters kept me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it! Would highly recommend to those who enjoy this genre.
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It was okay.  The synopsis sounded interesting, but the story didn't seem to match.  I kept waiting for the story to get interesting.
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I love Sophies' books! However I found this one to not be up my alley. I attempted to read it about 3 separate times and I just cannot get behind it.
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At first I thought this was a delightfully fun read about nothing but the story ended up having alot of substance and ofcourse how can you not fall in love with Sophie Kinsella characters! A fun, emotional drama with plenty of hilarious surprises. I thank Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.
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