Surprise Me: A Novel. Sophie Kinsella. Random House Publishing Group. February 2018. 432 pp. ISBN#: 9780399592881.
Sylvia and Dan have been married for ten years; they truly are best friends who completely understand each other and their rambunctious twin daughters. One day they visit a doctor for a wellness visit and from here to about three-quarters of the way through the novel the plot gets downright silly. They are healthy and are told by the doctor that they have another sixty-eight years more of life together. For some odd reason, this scares the heck out of Sylvia and Dan. While their uncanny understanding of each other’s thoughts and feelings brings great peace and joy to their life, the unpredictability of it is unacceptable. So, they come up with a plan of surprises to keep the future fresh and novel, but it doesn’t really work out at all.
Meanwhile the only thin friction between them has to do with Dan’s dislike of Sylvia’s privileged past and his refusal to let her “Daddy” finance their future. However, it will turn out that Daddy wasn’t the perfect husband and parent in Sylvia’s memories and this part of the plot saves this novel from being a disaster. Dan is more than just an understanding husband and lover. He’s someone who’s been trying to save his wife’s perfect image of her father, sheltering her from the stark reality of a very flawed father. The ending is quite a shocker for Sylvia but what is more precious is the fact there are some secrets in Dan that are stunning elements and a definite surprise!
While the second half of this novel “saves the day,” overall, it’s a bit of a strain on credibility. However, Kinsella manages to pull the reader into an interesting and real part of the relationships that work. Nicely done, to a degree!
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