For a person who’s read as many books as I have, and for someone who loves this genre, I really haven’t read that many books by Sophie Kinsella. I haven’t touched the Shopaholic series, and I think I’ve maybe read two of her other books, but I really do enjoy her writing. When my friend had purchased this book to go on a trip (and messaged me when she landed to say she had already read it and forgot—ha!—I’ve been there…), I was ever so happy to take it off her hands upon her return.
After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all.
I was first drawn to this book because we were getting a story about a marriage. It wasn’t a story about a single girl in the city or one about a recent divorcée, and I loved that we picked up right in the middle of their marriage, in a realistic place of routine and chaos.
I had a really hard time liking Sylvie, the narrator. She talked a lot about her father and how perfect he was and she never took her husband’s side when it came to her parents, and I just didn’t find that very realistic. She was really in her own world, and I had a hard time figuring out why Dan would stay with someone like that. And then Dad started doing really shady things, and I just kept being frustrated by their lack of communication. There is no way people who assumed things (versus actually talking them out) survived 10 years of marriage, so I wasn’t really getting sucked into their story. Of course we find out at the end that it’s all a big misunderstanding, and the story resolves nicely, but this book lost a star for me because of all the unrealistic aspects of their marriage.
I had higher hopes for “Project Surprise Me,” too. Not a single surprise went right, and though I understand a lot of it was for intrigue, I really would have liked if even the first few were successful and well-intentioned. It was such a good idea!
All of that being said, the novel was really cute, and Sophie Kinsella is great storyteller. If you are a fan of her other books, and of this genre in general, you won’t be disappointed.
Food for thought
Playing off of the surprise factor in a relationship, I want to know: What is the best surprise you’ve ever received (or given)? I am not one who is very good at keeping a secret, so I’ve never been able to successfully surprise anyone. I just love sharing!
“If love is easy, you’re not doing it right.” —Sophie Kinsella, Surprise Me
Thank you to Annie Spratt on Unsplash for the featured photo of the beautiful gift.