Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me.jpg

Surprise Me
by Sophie Kinsella
Dial Press (February 13, 2018
432 pages
Advance copy provided by publisher

After having read no less than twenty of the novels penned by Sophie Kinsella (she also writes under the name Madeleine Wickham), I assume that I know what to expect: a female-centric story involving a somewhat quirky, laugh-inducing protagonist and an equally entertaining supporting cast; lots of British colloquialisms; a feel-good message. 

“Oh, marriage.” She makes a snorting sound. “Did you not read the disclaimers? ‘May cause headache, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbance, or general feelings of wanting to stab something.’”

One of the great things about following an author's work, over several years, is the ability to observe the evolution of their writing and storytelling. In Surprise Me, Kinsella presents Sylvie and Dan, a married couple with twin daughters, who begin to contemplate what "'til death do us part" might entail after a recent physical for an insurance policy reveals their potential to live for another 68 years.

Why is it that everything in life is just a bit harder than you think it’ll be? Icing cakes, having children, keeping marriages together, saving museums, building websites. All hard. The only thing that’s ever turned out easier than I expected was my Italian final exam. (Oh, and lasering my legs - that was a doddle.)

This issue brings up all sorts of possibilities and certainly makes for lively discussion: how do we not only maintain, but also strengthen and enliven, long term relationships? Through her delightful characters, Kinsella lends levity to the subject; Sylvie proposes the "Surprise Me" project to Dan, which sounds fun and exciting; true to form, the real surprise comes in the form of the meaning and significance that Kinsella sneaks in when we are least suspecting it. 

‘Love is finding one person infinitely fascinating.’ John seems lost in thought again - then comes to. ‘And so...not an achievement, my dear.’ He gives me a mild, kind smile. ‘Rather, a privilege.’

In the midst of heavier literary fiction, and plenty of heaviness in the world we inhabit, Kinsella provides respite through humor and a reminder that there is so much beauty and love to be found if we are willing to pause and acknowledge those people and things around us for which we are most grateful to experience every day. 

 

 

 

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