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Surprise Me
Cover of Surprise Me
Surprise Me
A Novel
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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

"A delightful take on the mixed blessings of marital longevity."—People

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.
Praise for Surprise Me
"Genuinely funny."—The New York Times Book Review

"Unexpected and wholly satisfying."USA Today

"In her signature fashion, Sophie Kinsella brings a cast of quirky, funny characters to this new work. [She] keeps the laughs coming. . . . Readers will follow the story with bated breath as the couple struggle to make their marriage right after everything they thought they knew about each other proves wrong."Library Journal

"Heartfelt . . . What at first seems like a light novel about familiar woes turns into a deeper story about trust, family, and perception."Publishers Weekly

"Winsome and zesty, Kinsella's latest delivers all the hallmarks her many fans have come to expect."Booklist

"Pure fun . . . a hilariously moving look at marriage and the power of mixing things up."Kirkus Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • 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

"A delightful take on the mixed blessings of marital longevity."—People

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.
Praise for Surprise Me
"Genuinely funny."—The New York Times Book Review

"Unexpected and wholly satisfying."USA Today

"In her signature fashion, Sophie Kinsella brings a cast of quirky, funny characters to this new work. [She] keeps the laughs coming. . . . Readers will follow the story with bated breath as the couple struggle to make their marriage right after everything they thought they knew about each other proves wrong."Library Journal

"Heartfelt . . . What at first seems like a light novel about familiar woes turns into a deeper story about trust, family, and perception."Publishers Weekly

"Winsome and zesty, Kinsella's latest delivers all the hallmarks her many fans have come to expect."Booklist

"Pure fun . . . a hilariously moving look at marriage and the power of mixing things up."Kirkus Reviews
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter One

    Five Weeks Earlier

    It begins on our tenth anniversary. Who would have thought?

    Actually, there are two things going on here: 1. Who would have thought it would all kick off on such an auspicious day? And 2. Who would have thought we'd make ten years in the first place?

    By ten years, I don't mean ten years since our wedding. I mean ten years since we first met. It was at my mate Alison's birthday party. That was the day our lives changed forever. Dan was manning the barbecue and I asked him for a burger and . . . ​bam.

    Well, not bam as in instant love. Bam as in I thought, Mmm. Look at those eyes. Look at those arms. He's nice. He was wearing a blue T-­shirt, which brought out his eyes. He had a chef's apron round his waist, and he was flipping bur­gers really efficiently. Like he knew what he was doing. Like he was king of the burgers.

    The funny thing is, I'd never have thought "ability to flip burgers" would be on the list of attributes I was looking for in a man. But there you go.

    Watching him work that barbecue, cheerfully smiling all the while . . . ​I was impressed.

    So I went to ask Alison who he was ("old college friend, works in property, really nice guy") and made flirty conversation with him. And when that didn't yield any results, I got Alison to invite us both to supper. And when that didn't work, I bumped into him in the City "by accident" twice, including once in a very low-­cut top (almost hooker-­like, but I was getting a bit desperate). And then finally, finally, he noticed me and asked me out and it was love at, you know, about fifth sight.

    In his defense (he says now), he was getting over another relationship and wasn't really "out there."

    Also: We have slightly edited this story when we tell other people. Like, the low-­cut hooker top. No one needs to know about that.

    Anyway. Rewind to the point: Our eyes met over the barbecue and that was the beginning. One of those kismet moments that influence your life forever. A moment to cherish. A moment to mark, a decade later, with lunch at the Bar.

    We like the Bar. It has great food and we love the vibe. Dan and I like a lot of the same things, actually—­films, stand-­up comedy, walks—­although we have healthy differences too. You'll never see me getting on a bike for exercise, for example. And you'll never see Dan doing Christmas shopping. He has no interest in presents, and his birthday becomes an actual tussle. (Me: "You must want something. Think." Dan [hunted]: "Get me . . . ​er . . . ​I think we're out of pesto. Get me a jar of that." Me: "A jar of pesto? For your birthday?")

    A woman in a black dress shows us to our table and presents us with two large gray folders.

    "It's a new menu," she tells us. "Your waitress will be with you shortly."

    A new menu! As she leaves, I look up at Dan and I can see the unmistakable spark in his eye.

    "Oh really?" I say teasingly. "You think?"

    "Easy." He nods.

    "Big-­head," I retort.

    "Challenge accepted. You have paper?"

    "Of course."

    I always have paper and pens in my bag, because we're always playing this game. I hand him a rollerball and a page torn out of my notebook and take the same for myself.

    "OK," I say. "Game on."

    The pair of us fall silent, devouring the menu with our eyes. There's both bream and turbot, which makes things tricky . . . ​but even so, I know what Dan's going to order. He'll try to...
About the Author-
  • Sophie Kinsella is the author of the bestselling Shopaholic series, as well as the novels Can You Keep a Secret?, The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me?, Twenties Girl, I've Got Your Number, Wedding Night, and My Not So Perfect Life. She lives between London and the country.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2017

    In blockbuster Shopaholic author Kinsella's latest stand-alone, married couple Dan and Sylvie have been happy together for ten years. They're both also really healthy; a doctor predicts that they'll have another 68 years together. How can they keep their marriage exciting? (Check out the title for their plan.) And can they survive a secret from the past?

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 13, 2017
    Kinsella’s heartfelt latest, after My Not So Perfect Life, concerns the secrets that are unearthed after daddy’s girl Sylvie Winter and her husband, Dan, agree to continually surprise one another in an effort to make the most of their lives. Thirty-two-year-old Sylvie idolizes her dead father Marcus Lowe, a larger-than-life charmer whose charisma hijacked even Dan and Sylvie’s wedding video. Despite their simpatico relationship, Sylvie suspects that Dan envies her father and resents her family’s wealth. The couple agree to give each other treats, and they tend to go comically wrong (a boudoir shoot, a reunion with the wrong person), until a visit to a garden that Dan helped design appears to awaken his interest in Mary, an old girlfriend Sylvie never knew about. Sylvie notices Dan’s sudden spaciness and irritability as well as his surreptitious conversations with others; she also uncovers a secret phone that throws her marriage into question. At the same time, she attempts to deal with trouble at the quirky museum where she works; her boss’s nephew Robert Kendrick is threatening to turn the place into condos if they can’t monetize their business successfully, and soon. Sylvie matures along with her narrative: what at first seems like a light novel book about familiar woes turns into a deeper story about trust, family, and perception.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2017
    A woman attempts to spice up her marriage...and uncovers some secrets in the process.Sylvie has always thought she and Dan had a blissfully perfect marriage. They've been together for 10 years, have twin girls, and know each other so well that they can complete each other's sentences. Other than the small fact that Dan resents her recently deceased but beloved father, they're happy. But then, on the 10th anniversary of the day they met, a doctor tells them that they're in such good health, they could live to be married for another 68 years. This seemingly good news throws Sylvie and Dan into a panic, and they start to worry that the next 68 years could be filled with nothing but crossword puzzles, TV, and tedium. So Sylvie starts Project Surprise Me--she and Dan will arrange little surprises for each other in hopes of keeping the next 68 years "sparky." But as her neighbor Tilda warns her, "Surprises have a bad habit of going wrong." Although their surprises just seem laughably bad at first (Dan picks out an ugly sweater for Sylvie, and Sylvie orders a breakfast Dan doesn't like), soon things start to go so awry that Sylvie must ask herself some questions. Who is Dan texting all the time? Why is he so irritable? Why, exactly, does he resent her father? And then there's her biggest question: Dan couldn't possibly be having an affair...could he? Sylvie is a warm and lovably quirky heroine, and reading about her escapades is pure fun. Kinsella creates a complete world around Sylvie--her funny neighbors, her cozy job, her adorable twins. There's unexpected depth here, too, not just in the exploration of a long-term marriage, but in Sylvie's reckoning with grief after the death of her father. Overall, this is a fast-moving and entertaining story with well-rounded and endearing characters.A hilariously moving look at marriage and the power of mixing things up.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Novel
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