cover image Surprise Me

Surprise Me

Sophie Kinsella, read by Fiona Hardingham. Random House Audio, unabridged, 9 CDs, 11.5 hrs., $45 ISBN 978-0-525-53176-0

Hardingham turns in a charming performance in this light confection, capturing the winsome humor of Kinsella’s novel. When young Londoners Dan and Sophie are informed by their doctor that they might both live to be 100, they begin to question whether their marriage is built to last that long. Thus is born “Project Surprise Me,” in which each attempts to invigorate the marriage by surprising the other, often to disastrous and comic effect. Hardingham is at her best when handling the over-the-top humor of these situations, which range from an inedible breakfast in bed to sexy lingerie that’s inadvertently revealed to the wrong person. Hardingham magnificently captures the bright demeanor of Sophie, whose people-pleasing tendencies mask long buried sadness and insecurity, as well as the working-class pragmatism of Dan and the cheerful tenacity of their five-year-old twins. The host of quirky neighbors and coworkers are rendered with affectionate individuality. Hardingham’s entertaining performance subtly reveals the novel’s more serious themes even as it revels in the many droll moments. A Dial hardcover. (Feb.)