Surprise Me: A Novel by Sophie KinsellaSurprise Me: A Novel by Sophie Kinsella

Surprise Me: A Novel

bySophie Kinsella

Hardcover | February 13, 2018

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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
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.
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Title:Surprise Me: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 8.54 × 5.8 × 1.35 inPublished:February 13, 2018Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0399592881

ISBN - 13:9780399592881

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great author Sophie Kinsella novels are my favourite and this one does not fail!
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not as good as I hoped I didn't enjoy this book as much as her other ones, but it was entertaining enough for a weekend read. Wouldn't bother reading it again though.
Date published: 2018-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as Good Not as good as her others. Usually, I love anything Sophie writes, but this seemed to be a miss.
Date published: 2018-04-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from dull the story didnt really go anywhere and had no real plot
Date published: 2018-04-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cool Mildly amusing but still a nice read. Some parts were a bit predictable.
Date published: 2018-04-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dull I really enjoy the stand alones by this author and was looking forward to the funny, light read I expected. I read about 150 pages in, and then read then skimmed and scanned the rest. The story line I think was quite brilliant, but It fell short for me part way through. I did not find the characters endearing and there was no element captivating to see the story to the end.
Date published: 2018-04-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as good as her others I LOVE her other books, but this one was very dark in the middle. It almost hurt me to read on - even though I knew it would end well.
Date published: 2018-04-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mini review on GR! Mini review: I received this e-arc via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. DNF Despite the not-so great synopsis I wanted to read this anyways. After all it’s a Kinsella book. Unfortunately it wasn’t any good. The main characters were supremely dumb. Her 20 year characters (in other books) have more sense then the husband and wife in this book. Now mind you I thought the whole thing was bogus to begin with. I had no idea that this was a legit science. And even if it is true I still don’t buy it. The worst part was their reactions to the whole situation. If it were me I would feel over the moon. I would possibly get to see my grandchildren. But no these two instead stress about how they’ll manage their marriage. Personally speaking I felt that they had insecurities about their marriage before the appointment. Don’t recommend. Honestly just read her other books. Like My not so perfect life. It’s much better than this.
Date published: 2018-04-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Surprise! no surprise here! Same old, same old. Mildly amusing but very preditable.
Date published: 2018-03-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was Okay A little disappointing - I found it hard to get into, however once I was about half way through, it improved somewhat.
Date published: 2018-03-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Read A good story, but it took some time to get into. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Cute Story At first I was unsure how I felt about this book, but by the end I was moved. Sylvie has a stunning and emotional arc, and her journey and growth are fantastic. Her arc made up for the weaker parts of the book. This is only my second Sophie Kinsella novel, but it made me want to read more of her books. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great ending It took me a bit to get hooked on this book, usually with Sophie Kinsella I cannot put her book down. The second half of this book was fantastic.
Date published: 2018-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Omg LOVE As soon as I finished this book I wanted to read it again. It had me laughing all the way through, and the twist near the end literally made me gasp out loud! I loved Sylvie and Dan and Tilda, and the picture that Sophie Kinsella painted in this book was so comforting - I felt like I was right in there with them! Such a fun read, HIGHLY recommend!
Date published: 2018-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read Great read, the book builds a scenario in your head that completely takes you by surprise in the end.
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great book! I bought this for my friend's birthday and she loved it!
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from light hearted and fun Bought this the day it was released and started reading right away. The characters are well fleshed out, and humour keeps the storyline buoyant whilst not detracting from the more touching moments. Kinsella's characters appear to be growing up, while remaining true to her style.
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Sophie Kinsella is an automatic buy for me and, as per usual, this book was as entertaining as all her others! She has a way of making her stories and characters so fun and lighthearted that I just love about her. This one took a little turn for the serious towards the end but she managed to pull it back and ended up with a great story. Would highly recommend this book to others! Can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Date published: 2018-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from engaging it has been SO long since i've read a sophie kinsella book. i used to really love reading novels from this author and this book is no exception, no disappointment whatsoever.
Date published: 2018-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surprisingly good. From the outset of this novel I found the premise to be a bit whacky, but it ended up being a delightful little story. I highly recommend for any Sophie Kinsella fan.
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful wonderful, wonderful book. Couldn't put it down! Fully recommend
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Latest from KInsella Surprise Me is Sophie Kinsella's latest novel - and (no surprise) - it's another delightful read! Sylvie and Dan have a storybook marriage, a lovely home, good jobs and twin daughters. But, an offhand remark about longevity has them suddenly panicked. How can they keep their marriage fresh over the course of the years to come? Surprises, that the ticket! Well, surprises can be unpredictable can't they? Uh huh."...I thought we couldn't surprise each other anymore. Well, that shows how much I knew." In her trademark style, Kinsella has concocted more than one laugh out loud situation for Dan and Sylvia. And just as fun are her characters. In Sylvie we have the slightly flustered, lovable lead that you'd want to have as a friend. Dan, well, he's the perfect partner for Sylvie. The supporting cast is always quirky and left of center and just as endearing. I loved the little museum Sylvie worked at - and its odd office practices. With a great rom-com read, come missed cues and misunderstandings. The reader knows that some choices made are not quite the right ones...but in the end there will be a 'happy ever after.' And no surprise, that the case in this novel. There was a plot thread involving Sylvie's father that was a little bit heavier - but quite timely. Kinsella's books are engaging, entertaining, humourous and just so much fun to read. If you need a pick-me-up, pick up this latest from Sophie Kinsella. You'll have a smile on your face in no time
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from want didn't know about this book.... i've love all her novels. ... can't wait to get my hands on this one.
Date published: 2018-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Big fan of this author, very similar to her other novels
Date published: 2018-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I love all of Sophie Kinsella's novels, and this one was not a disappointment!! It was really fun, and interesting characters. One thing that gets a tad annoying is that all of Kinsella's characters are very, very similar and there wasn't as much to distinguish her main character from the standard Sophie Kinsella protagonist. Still, a fun read! #plumreview
Date published: 2018-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great development The character development was really great, I loved it throughout the whole process
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A pleasant surprise! Sophie Kinsella is a hit or miss kind of writer for me, but Surprise Me was definitely in the hit category. Although some of her books have been duds (like Twenties Girl and the majority of the Shopaholic series), I found that Surprise Me was full of cutesy moments and heartfelt character development. When Sylvia and her husband Dan find out that they're expected to live to at least a hundred years of age, both of them are shocked to find out that this means that life will also include 68 more years of wedded bliss. When 68 years starts to feel a bit daunting, they decide to mix things up by trying to surprise one another. This is where the silliness of the book comes in, and I thought that I was in store for a traditional Sophie Kinsella book full of miscommunications and relationship ups and downs with a bunch of giggly cringe-worthy moments. About halfway through the book, the story took a different turn than I was expecting, and I was on the edge of my seat as the rest of the story unfolded. Surprise Me had way more heart and soul than Sophie's previous books, and I felt like this was one of her more mature books to date. If this is the direction that her writing will be taking for future books, I'm definitely intrigued to see what she comes up with next! Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Warm, affecting, and extremely entertaining! Surprise Me is a lighthearted journey into the lives of married couple Sylvie and Dan who have it all, beautiful girls, successful careers, and a rock-solid marriage until the suggestion of another 68 years of marriage sends them into a tailspin that makes them question their goals, dreams, and each other. The writing is smooth and effortless. The characters are quirky, comical, genuine, and lovable. And the plot is an engaging, moving tale bursting with witty banter, embarrassing situations, awkward moments, hilarious hijinks, and sweet romance. Surprise Me is, ultimately, a story about marriage, secrets, commitment, family, introspection, and enduring love. It's classic Kinsella with well-crafted characters, humour, heart, a surprising twist and a delightful ending that will definitely make you smile.
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How long is too long? Don't let the initial ditzy airhead portrayal of Sylvie turn you off of reading this novel. It is quite a surprisingly good novel! When Dr. Bamford tells Dan & Sylvie that he expects they will have 68 more years together, their response is shock and terror at the thought of 'how can anyone expect to spend so much time with only one person'? Longevity, loyalty and partnership prove to be prized promises as Sylvie discovers truths about her childhood, herself and Dan. Left me smiling and feeling very positive. I volunteered to read an ARC through Net Galley.
Date published: 2018-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Feel Good & Warm Read! Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella Publisher: Random House Publishing Group Sale Date: February 13, 2018 Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the ebook ARC of Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella. Sylvie and Dan have been married for 10 years. They have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage. They have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls and communicate so well, they finish each others sentences. After a trip to the doctor, he projects they will live another 68 years together and thats when panic sets in. Neither of them expected that “until death do us part” to mean seven decades. They quickly come up with a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting; they create mini surprises for each other so their years together will never become boring. But in their quest to carry out Project Surprises, secrets are uncovered and they begin to threaten their bond. A scandal from the past is revealed which brings up some questions that start to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all. I give this book a rating of 4 stars. I recommend reading it. It is a well written book. This book was a feel good and warm read. Sophie Kinsella is one of my favourite authors and I always enjoy reading her novels.
Date published: 2018-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Lovely "Surprise" Sophie Kinsella has always been one of my go-to favourite authors. I remember the enjoyment of reading the Shopaholic series for the first time and now I have reread them countless times (along with each of her standalone novels). For each following novel that she publishes, part of me gets nervous that I won't like the next one. I am so happy to say that hasn't been the case for any of her novels and I have liked each with varying levels of enjoyment. Always, I have liked what she has written. For this novel, I feel like it can have such a broad audience that can be impacted. Younger adults, older adults, single, married, divorced, etc. I think the story and these characters cover such a large network that many could relate with different things that the characters are going through. This was a different story and somewhere around 3/4 of the way through, I realized I didn't know the direction that it would go. I hate to get cheesy with the title but there really were so many surprises! Some of the events that occurred near to the end, I really didn't predict or see coming yet I thought that it added to the story. One of the best parts of Sophie Kinsella's writing that also occurred in this novel is the ability to relate. I think many people will be able to relate to many of the characters but especially to different aspects of the main character Sylvie. Her internal dialogue and struggles were real alone with her outwardly concerns. Along with this, the humour! Oh boy, there were times that this novel had me either hiding a laugh or literally laughing out loud. Sophie Kinsella does humour amazingly well and I'm happy to see that she included it so appropriately in this novel. After reading this novel, I'm getting the itch to reread all of Sophie Kinsella's novels because they are just so well done and thoroughly entertaining. I cannot wait to read more from her in the future! ***Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me an advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review***
Date published: 2018-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cant handle the anticipation!!! LOVE everything Sophie Kinsella offers....and am filled with anticipation for her latest....surely will fast become one of her greatest!!!
Date published: 2018-02-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not your typical Sophie Kinsella, but still OK "Surprise Me" has the fun and humorous protagonists that we are all expecting from a Sophie Kinsella novel. As a big fan of her work, I was excited to be given the opportunity to read and review a copy of Sophie Kinsella's newest book. Often in Kinsella's novels, the protagonist falls in love, or in some way develops a romantic relationship, however "Surprise Me" does not follow that typical theme. The protagonist definitely learns about life, relationships and trust, but if you are hoping for a happy cozy romance, then this book is not for you. Sylvie, the protagonist, is a witty but naive woman who feels like her relationship with her husband Dan is pretty much perfect. They can even read each others thought patterns and guess each others orders in a restaurant. After celebrating a minestrone in their marriage, Sylvie and Dan are informed by their Doctor that they both are expected to live long healthy lives and have many decades (maybe too many) of marriage left. This revelation shocks their relationship and puts both Sylvie and Dan on the defensive. They are not sure if they are ready for so many years committed to each other. Sure Sylvie and Dan fell in love and made vows, but did they really intend to be married for so long? As a side-note, Syvlie appears to be almost obsessive about her late father. Her father was an influential and wealthy individual who thought the world of her (ie. Princess Sylvie). This thread in the story is predictable and over accentuated in my opinion. I understand as a reader that we need to get the point early on that Sylvie's father was all consuming in her life, but I think it just got overdone and became unnecessary. Sylvie and Dan's relationship struggle leads to many humorous moments and I love Sylvie's quick wit. That being said, I did find "Surprise Me" to be too predictable from the very beginning and to have a weak conflict/storyline. I felt like their should have been more tension, more exciting unpredictable events and that the "surprises" theme could have been better utilized. I enjoyed the surprises, but they are not what I will think of when I remember this novel. What I will remember is the humour of Sylvie and Dan's relationship when they realized they would be married for the next 6 decades. I will remember Sylvie's quirky character, but I will likely forget about Dan and forget about Sylvie's family conflict. I am giving this book a 3 out 5 because I am not sure I would ever reread it and it fell short in a those few areas. I LOVE many of Kinsella's novels and always laugh out loud when listening to them on audiobook. I also want to thank NetGalley and Penguin/Random House for the opportunity to read and review "Surprise Me" by Sophie Kinsella.
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So excited I am over moon with excitement to read her new book.
Date published: 2018-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok I was reluctant to order this book but I did! I should have gone with my but feeling because a few pages into the story I was disappointed.
Date published: 2018-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Another Solid Kinsella Effort Gotta love me some Sophie Kinsella. The plotlines of her books never fail to amaze, and the quirk and comedy of the writing is always guaranteed to be a winner. I've been a fan of Kinsella for years, and I have to say that while this isn't her best, it's certainly up there. The progression of the story was surprising, but satisfying. I'd read the excerpt well over a month ago and it got me really excited for this. I was expecting a story consisting of just hi-jinx after disaster of husband and wife trying to one up the other with surprises to keep the marriage fresh. I was pleasantly surprised (pardon me) to find that not only was there a much more deeper thread winding through the story in regards to couples and marriage, but there was also a larger character changing plotline that gave the story a big twist. I'll admit, I somewhat guessed the twist that came, but nowhere near the extremes and consequences of what played out. Kinsella downright astounded me with the last half of this story. It was weirdly intense for such a light start and hard to put down. As far as main characters go, I think this is a change for Kinsella. This is the first novel where the main character is married with children. And before you pounce on me, yes, I'm aware Becky, star of the Shopaholic series is too, but it took a few books to get to that point. I have a feeling it's almost a glimpse into Kinsella's own home life, and I quite enjoyed that. While the focus is not on a twenty something, independent working woman trying to fall in love, this was no less better. The focus of Sylvie already being in love and established in life was a nice change. I really enjoyed being inside Sylvie's head. Kinsella's written voice is as strong as ever, but sometimes I do wish she would switch it up a little or tone it down a bite. While I thought the entire story would be just hi-jinxes and disasters, the first half filled with it was a delight. There are few authors that make me laugh out loud while I read, and Kinsella did not disappoint. Where she gets her idea, I'll never know, but I'm envious to say the least.
Date published: 2018-01-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Not as engaging as I had hoped
Date published: 2018-01-03

Read from the Book

Chapter OneFive Weeks EarlierIt 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 double-­bluff me, but I’ll still catch him out. I know just how his mind weaves and winds.“Done.” Dan scribbles a few words on the page and folds it over. “Done!” I write my answer and fold my own paper over, just as our waitress arrives at the table.“Would you like to order drinks?”“Absolutely, and food too.” I smile at her. “I’d like a Negroni, then the scallops and the chicken.”“A gin and tonic for me,” says Dan, when she’s finished writing. “Then the scallops also, and the bream.”The waitress moves away and we wait till she’s out of earshot. Then:“Got you!” I push my piece of paper toward Dan. “Although I didn’t say G&T. I thought you’d have champagne.”“I got everything. Slam dunk.” Dan hands me his paper, and I see Negroni, scallops, chicken in his neat hand.“Damn!” I exclaim. “I thought you’d guess langoustines.” “With polenta? Please.” He grins and refreshes my water.“I know you nearly put turbot.” I can’t help showing off, proving how well I know him. “It was between that and the bream, but you wanted the saffron fennel that came with the bream.”Dan’s grin widens. Got him.“By the way,” I add, shaking my napkin out, “I spoke to—­”“Oh, good! What did she—­”“It’s fine.”“Great.” Dan sips his water, and I mentally tick that topic off the list.A lot of our conversations are like this. Overlapping sentences and half thoughts and shorthand. I didn’t need to spell out, “I spoke to Karen, our nanny, about babysitting.” He knew. It’s not that we’re psychic exactly, but we do tend to sense exactly what each other is going to say next.“Oh, and we need to talk about my mum’s—­” he says, sipping his drink.“I know. I thought we could go straight on from—­”“Yes. Good idea.”Again: We don’t need to spell out that we need to talk about his mum’s birthday gathering and how we could go straight on from the girls’ ballet lesson. We both know. I pass him the bread basket knowing that he’ll take the sourdough, not because he likes it particularly but because he knows I love focaccia. That’s the kind of man Dan is. The kind who lets you have your favorite bread.Our drinks arrive and we clink glasses. We’re both pretty relaxed this lunchtime, because we’ve got the afternoon off. We’re renewing our health insurance, and so we both need a medical, which is slated for later today.“So, ten years.” I raise my eyebrows. “Ten years.” “Unbelievable.”“We made it!”Ten years. It’s such an achievement. It feels like a mountain that we’ve scrambled to the top of. I mean, it’s a whole decade. Three house moves, one wedding, one set of twins, about twenty sets of Ikea shelves . . . ​I mean, it’s practically a lifetime.And we’re very lucky to be here, still together. I know that. A few other couples we know who started off around the same time as us weren’t so fortunate. My friend Nadia was married and divorced within three years. Just didn’t take.I look lovingly at Dan’s face—­that face I know so well, with its high cheekbones, sprinkling of freckles, and healthy glow from all the cycling he does. His sandy, springy hair. His blue eyes. His air of dynamism, even sitting here at lunch.He’s looking at his phone now, and I glance at mine too. We don’t have a no-­phone rule on dates, because who can go a whole meal without looking at your phone? “Oh, I got you something,” he says suddenly. “I know it’s not a real anniversary, but whatever. . . .”He produces a gift-­wrapped oblong and I already know it’s that book about tidying your house that I’ve been meaning to read.“Wow!” I exclaim as I unwrap it. “Thanks! And I got you a little something too. . . .”He’s already smiling knowingly as he feels the heft of the package. Dan collects paperweights, so whenever he has a birthday or a special thing, I get him one. (As well as a jar of pesto, obviously.) It’s safe. No, not safe—­that sounds boring, and we’re definitely not boring. It’s just . . . ​Well. I know he’ll like it, and why waste money on taking a chance?“Do you love it?”“I love it.” He leans over to kiss me and whispers, “I love you.” “Love that Dan,” I whisper back.By 3:45 p.m. we’re sitting in a doctor’s office, feeling pretty marvelous about everything, in the way you only can when you’ve got the afternoon off work, your children are at a playdate after school, and you’re stuffed with amazing food.We’ve never met Dr. Bamford before—­the insurance company chose him—­and he’s quite a character. He brings us both into the room together, for a start, which seems unconventional. He does our blood pressure, asks us a bunch of questions, and looks at the results of the fitness tests we did earlier. Then, as he writes on our forms, he reads aloud in a rather theatrical voice.“Mrs. Winter, a charming lady of thirty-­two, is a nonsmoker with healthy eating habits. . . .”Dan shoots me a comical look at “healthy eating habits,” and I pretend not to notice. Today’s our anniversary—­it’s different. And I had to have that double chocolate mousse. I notice my reflection in a glass cupboard door and immediately sit up straighter, pulling in my stomach. I’m blond, with long, wavy hair. I mean really long. Waist-­length. Rapunzel-­style. It’s been long ever since I was a child, and I can’t bear to cut it. It’s kind of my defining feature, my long blond hair. It’s my thing. And my father adored it. So.Our twin girls are also blond, and I make the most of it by putting them in adorable Scandi stripy tops and pinafores. At least I did until this year, when they both decided they love football more than anything and want to live in their lurid blue nylon Chelsea shirts. I’m not blaming Dan. Much.“Mr. Winter, a powerful man of thirty-­two . . .” Dr. Bamford begins on Dan’s medical form, and I stifle a snort. Powerful. Dan will love that.I mean, he works out; we both do. But you wouldn’t call him massive. He’s just . . . ​he’s right. For Dan. Just right.“. . . and there we are. Well done!” Dr. Bamford finishes writing and looks up with a toothy grin. He wears a toupee, which I noticed as soon as we walked in but have been very careful not to look at. My job involves raising funds for Willoughby House, a very tiny niche museum in central London. I often deal with wealthy older patrons, and I come across a lot of toupees: some good, some bad.No, I take it back. They’re all bad.“What a delightful, healthy couple.” Dr. Bamford sounds approving, as though he’s giving us a good school report. “How long have you been married?”“Seven years,” I tell him. “And we dated for three before that. Actually, it’s ten years exactly since we met!” I clutch Dan’s hand with a sudden swell of love. “Ten years today!”“Ten years together,” affirms Dan.“Congratulations! And that’s quite a family tree the pair of you have.” Dr. Bamford is looking at our paperwork. “All grandparents still alive or else died at a very good age.”“That’s right.” Dan nods. “Mine are all still alive and kicking, and Sylvie’s still got one pair going strong, in the south of France.”“They’re pickled in Pernod,” I say, smiling at Dan. “But only three remaining parents?”“My father died in a car crash,” I explain.“Ah.” Dr. Bamford’s eyes dim in sympathy. “But otherwise he was healthy?”“Oh yes. Very. Extremely. He was super-­healthy. He was amazing. He was . . .”I can’t help it; I’m already reaching for my phone. My father was so handsome. Dr. Bamford needs to see, to realize. When I meet people who never knew my father, I feel a weird kind of rage almost that they never saw him, never felt that firm, inspiring handshake, that they don’t understand what has been lost.He looked like Robert Redford, people used to say. He had that glow. That charisma. He was a golden man, even as he aged, and now he’s been taken from us. And even though it’s been two years, I still wake up some days and just for a few seconds I’ve forgotten, until it hits me in the guts again.Dr. Bamford studies the photo of my father and me. It’s from my childhood—­I found the print after he died, and I scanned it into my phone. My mother must have taken it. Daddy and I are sitting outside on the terrace of my old family home, underneath the magnolia. We’re laughing at some joke I don’t remember, and the dappled summer sun is burnishing both our fair heads. I watch Dr. Bamford carefully for his reaction, wanting him to exclaim, “What a terrible loss to the world. How did you bear it?” But of course he doesn’t. The longer you’ve been bereaved, I’ve noticed, the more muted the reaction you’ll get from the average stranger. Dr. Bamford just nods. Then he hands the phone back and says, “Very nice. Well, you clearly take after your healthy relatives. Barring accidents, I predict nice long lives for both of you.”“Excellent!” says Dan. “That’s what we want to hear!”“Oh, we’re all living far longer these days.” Dr. Bamford beams kindly at us. “That’s my field of interest, you know, longevity. Life expectancy is going up every year. But the world really hasn’t cottoned on to the fact. The government . . . ​industry . . . ​pension companies . . . ​none of them has properly caught up.” He laughs gently. “How long, for example, do you expect to live, the pair of you?”“Oh.” Dan hesitates. “Well . . . ​I don’t know. Eighty? Eighty-­five?”“I’d say ninety,” I chime in boldly. My granny died when she was ninety, so surely I’ll live as long as her?“Oh, you’ll live beyond a hundred,” says Dr. Bamford, sounding assured. “A hundred and two, maybe. You . . .” He eyes Dan. “Maybe shorter. Maybe a hundred.”“Life expectancy hasn’t gone up that much,” says Dan skeptically. “Average life expectancy, no,” agrees Dr. Bamford. “But you two are way above average in health terms. You look after yourselves, you have good genes . . . ​I fully believe that you will both hit one hundred. At least.”He smiles benevolently, as though he’s Father Christmas giving us a present.“Wow!”I try to imagine myself, aged 102. I never thought I’d live that long. I never thought about life expectancy, full stop. I’ve just been going with the flow. “That’s something!” Dan’s face has brightened. “A hundred years old!”

Editorial Reviews

“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   “Entertaining and comical with questions we can puzzle over . . . Kinsella is a master at engaging storytelling, entertaining quips, and developing nuanced, interesting characters.”—Bookreporter