cover image Surprise Me

Surprise Me

Sophie Kinsella. Dial, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-399-59288-1

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. (Feb.)