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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella - Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

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Review by Suze

Sylvie and Dan are happy. They've been together for ten years and have an easy relationship. They still feel plenty of attraction, they have two wonderful daughters and they both have jobs they love. Everything is perfect, until they have a health check and hear they could easily be married for sixty-eight more years. This comes as a terrible shock. How will they prevent the boredom from creeping in when they are destined to be together for such a long time?

Sylvie and Dan think they need something to keep their relationship interesting now that they know they have such a long time together. Surprising each other should do the trick. They will regularly arrange something unexpected for one another, so their relationship will remain fun and interesting. Unfortunately surprises can also backfire and that is exactly what happens. While Sylvie and Dan are trying to make things better for each other they are actually making their situation worse. When secrets of the past are coming to the surface things slowly start to unravel. Will their love be strong enough to get them back on track again or is their sixty-eight years of good health news the beginning of the end for Sylvie and Dan?

Surprise Me is a fantastic entertaining story. Sylvie is a daddy's girl. Her father passed away, but she thinks about him all the time and honors him by being the person her father would have liked her to be. Sylvie had a glamorous upbringing and she has a job in a quirky museum that comes straight out of a fairytale. Dan is more down to earth and could sometimes use more adventure, so their relationship is an ideal balance. Their surprises, however, show them that while they think they know one another there are a lot of things they have never been aware of. I often had to laugh out loud when I read about the things they come up with. Their surprises are incredibly funny, but not always spot on. Beneath the surface something else is going on though and that is getting more and more prominent throughout the story, which made me really curious and eager to keep reading.

Sophie Kinsella has a fantastic heartwarming writing style. Her stories always make me smile and I love their feelgood factor. She has a fabulous sense of humor and she combines that with unexpected twists and turns. The secret that's being revealed is original and surprising, which suits the story very well. Surprise Me is a story about a marriage that has its flaws like every marriage, but there's also so much beauty in the relationship between Sylvie and Dan. I was anxious to find out if they'd make it and read their story in one sitting. Sophie Kinsella has written another terrific story and I highly recommend this sparkling book.

Advice

If you enjoy reading original love stories filled with heartwarming humor Surprise Me is an absolute must-read.

About Sophie Kinsella


Sophie Kinsella has sold over 40 million copies of her books in more than 60 countries, and she has been translated into over 40 languages.

Sophie Kinsella first hit the UK bestseller lists in September 2000 with her first novel in the Shopaholic series – The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (also published as Confessions of a Shopaholic). The book’s heroine, Becky Bloomwood – a fun and feisty financial journalist who loves shopping but is hopeless with money – captured the hearts of readers worldwide. Becky has since featured in seven further bestselling books, Shopaholic Abroad (also published as Shopaholic Takes Manhattan), Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic & Sister, Shopaholic & Baby, Mini Shopaholic, Shopaholic to the Stars and Shopaholic to the Rescue. Becky Bloomwood came to the big screen in 2009 with the hit Disney movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, starring Isla Fisher and Hugh Dancy.

Sophie has also written seven standalone novels which have all been bestsellers in the UK, USA and other countries around the world: 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, which was a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for Best Fiction in 2017.

In 2014 she published a Young Adult novel Finding Audrey about a teenage girl with social anxiety and her madcap family, and in January 2018, Sophie published her first illustrated book for young readers about the charming adventures of a mother-daughter fairy duo, Mummy Fairy and Me (also published as Fairy Mom and Me).

Sophie’s latest novel, Surprise Me, published in February 2018, 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.

Sophie wrote her first novel under her real name, Madeleine Wickham, at the tender age of 24, whilst she was working as a financial journalist. The Tennis Party was immediately hailed as a success by critics and the public alike and became a top ten bestseller. She went on to publish six more novels as Madeleine Wickham: A Desirable Residence, Swimming Pool Sunday, The Gatecrasher, The Wedding Girl, Cocktails for Three and Sleeping Arrangements.

Sophie was born in London. She studied music at New College, Oxford, but after a year switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She now lives in London, UK, with her husband and family.

Links

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Amazon

Interview

1) You started writing at quite a young age, how did you discover your passion for story telling?

My mother used to tell bedtime stories to me and my sisters. She didn’t read them, she just made them up. They were amazingly inventive and funny, and ever since I have loved the idea of telling stories.

2) The main characters of Surprise Me have a long life ahead of them with many years of marriage and that scares them, how did you get the idea for this topic?

The initial inspiration came when my husband returned from a lunch, talking about life expectancy. He’d met a doctor who believed that age span was massively on the rise. I immediately thought: ‘What about relationships? What about love? How do you make it last?!’

I imagined a couple panicking because their marriage is going to be so endless, and what they could do about it. I could see great comedy potential – how their efforts to keep it ‘fresh’ might go wrong in all sorts of ways – but also dramatic possibilities. I loved the idea that a ‘perfect’ couple might have a huge chasm in their relationship that they had never tackled - and that a series of innocent surprises might expose the faultline.

3) What’s the most interesting thing about peeling off the layers of a marriage?

You always wonder about other people’s relationships. You see couples at restaurants and you think: “How do they get on? Are they soulmates? Or are they about to break up?” When I start to write my characters and their plot, I try to put myself in both of their shoes – what does she think about this situation, what does he think? And once you start doing that you realise that couples can know each other incredibly well and yet view their relationship in a completely different way from each other.

4) You write with a great sense of humor, how do you approach writing a funny story, does that come naturally or do you have to plan?

I’m really thrilled if people find my books funny. I do tend to see the ridiculous side in any situation and I love the absurd. I find endless fascination in human foibles, which provide a lot of my humour.

As for writing comedy: it’s more difficult than it looks! To picture a funny scene is one thing, but to execute it is another. I spend days honing each scene, changing the placement of lines to get the timing right. I also love doing readings on tour so I can see if a line gets a laugh, as I hoped it would. When it does, and an audience laughs, it’s the most amazing feeling. People have said to me, ‘Your books seems so effortless,’ and that’s the greatest compliment I can receive.

5) You have a large family, how do you combine a busy family life with writing books?

Ha! It’s a work in progress, as I suspect it is for every working mother. I would say every week for me is different. Sometimes I’m writing, sometimes away travelling and promoting. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home, but sometimes that can create its own problems: you can be with your children but distracted from them. When I’m in the throes of a book I can be very engrossed, and write for hours at a time, but my brilliant husband steps in to keep family life going. Then, when I’ve finished the book, I try to make up by being very present.

6) You have plenty of good advice for other writers, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given and what should a new writer never forget?

When I was writing The Undomestic Goddess I read a lot of books about slowing down, and I tried to take that advice myself. Don’t rush. Enjoy the moment. I have a tendency to live my life in a total whirl, and I’m always thinking ahead. Sometimes it’s good just to think about what you’re doing right now.

If you are a new writer, then first of all, write a book that would please and thrill you. Make sure your idea is so exciting that you will still feel motivated when you reach chapter 11. Finish! And above all, enjoy yourself.

7) You write both series and standalone novels, what’s the best part of working on both?

I’ve always loved coming back to Becky Bloomwood, the heroine of my Shopaholic novels. She has become a very close friend over the years! I love the funny take she has on life, and I try to adopt her optimism in my own life.

But I also really enjoying exploring new heroines. I love to be able to create a completely new character and setting and think about brnad new issues and relationships. My starting point with a plot is always a “What if…?” question, and it’s always a real thrill when an idea for a new story hits me.

8) Your main characters are always wonderfully original, how do you come up with their personalities?

I’m sure I use aspects of real-life people when I write. However, I try not to take people and ‘plonk’ them into a book! Certainly there is a little bit of me in each of my heroines – usually one of my flaws, such as my obsessional nature or my scattiness or, yes, my belief that to buy a jumper at 50% off is definitely saving money…

I love to read a character I relate to, and so that’s what I try to achieve with my books. I try to depict them in the most honest and confessional way that I can, and then their struggles will be honest and real ones.

9) You’ve won a Goodreads Choice Award last year, how does it feel when so many people vote for your book?

I am always incredibly touched when people say they like my books. I am honestly humbled, and am still utterly thrilled when I see someone reading one of my books. I’m very grateful to the Goodreads readers!

10) What are your plans for the future?

At the moment I’m working on a new standalone novel, which I am really enjoying. I also have a book for children out, called Fairy Mom and Me (or Mummy Fairy and Me in the UK). I loved writing that and seeing the wonderful illustrations.

Giveaway

Three very lucky readers of With Love for Books will receive a paperback copy of Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.

57 comments:

  1. Big fan of Sophie. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Surprise Me sounds like a humorous and charming story but with some strong underlying messages about growth, partnerships, trust and the importance of communicating.

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  3. I'm all for long marriages! :D I very much hope to live to a grand old age with my husband of 18 years and be holding hands in our elderly years like my cute grandparents did (my grandfather is now passed away but my amazing grandmother is 97 and reads voraciously on her Kindle! ;) )

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  4. An entertaining and heartwarming story sounds like the ticket!

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  5. Would love to win this book for my Mum who reads a lot.

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  6. Ohhh I cannot wait to get my hands on your latest novel!! I'm a huge fan of the Shopaholic series and love your fun and entertaining writing style a lot.

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  7. I love a humorous love story, looking forward to reading this.

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  8. Really looking forward to reading this one !

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  9. I love your book covers, they are so different and pretty.

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  10. I have read all of Sophie Kinsella's books and am so excited to read Surprise Me.
    Amanda

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  11. So excited to read Surprise me. I'll sure be surprised :)

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  12. I love her books, can't wait to add it to my long list of to read!

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  13. I've read a few of your books and really enjoyed them, this would be a treat xx

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  14. I love the cover of your book, what a great idea. This sounds like an exciting and interesting book, another great read I expect. :-)

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  15. I liked the review. Sounds like a good book.

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  16. Have enjoyed any of Sophie's books I've read so far.
    jan

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  17. Sophie Kinsella is one of my favorite authors and I'm so excited about this book,can't wait to read! :)

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  18. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

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  19. LOoking forward to seeing this one on the shelves!!!

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  20. I love Sophie Kinsella's books. Definitely would love to read this one!

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  21. I can't wait to read this book - Just finished Twenties Girl and My Not So Perfect Life and loved both of them!
    Stephanie
    steph 0828 at Hotmail dot com

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  22. Thank you for the giveaway. I love Sophie's books, can't wait to read this one

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  23. Sounds good can't wait to read it.

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  24. This is so exciting! I love Sophie's books and can't wait to get my hands on this one.

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  25. I have enjoyed previous Sophie Kinsell books and so I can't wait to read this one!

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  26. I love Sophie's books - they're always so funny!

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  27. I love Sophie Kinsella books she is amazing

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  28. Love reading Sophie Kinsella books. Thanks for the chances.

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  29. I love reading Sophie Kinsella's books, they always put a smile on my face!

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  30. Surprises scare me! But sounds fun!

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  31. I have read nearly all of her books, looking forward to her newest work!

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  32. Thanks for the film confessions of a shopaholic . One of my favorites .

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  34. I know when I read a Sophie Kinsella book, I won't be disappointed.

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  35. Hige fan of shopoholic, cant wait to read this

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  36. Lovely giveaway - looks like a great read

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  37. Love every single one of Sophies books!

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  38. I can't wait to read your books! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  39. So looking forward to reading this, I love Sophie Kinsella's books.

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  40. Thank you for running the lovely book competition. Good luck everyone!

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  41. This sounds like my perfect kind of book, thanks for the competition

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  42. Thanks for the great giveaway!
    The book looks like an amazing read!

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  43. can't wait to read this love Sophie Kinsella books

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  44. Me and my mum love your books they’re so witty, funny, but with a serious story line I can’t put them down.

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  45. Love the idea of surprises to keep a marriage interesting, even if sometimes it backfires. My parents have been married 51 years so far, but unfortunately Dad doesn't do surprises any more. Love the fact that there's a hint of seriousness in the book, but sounds a very good read as always.

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  46. I love your books! I just finished reading "Can You Keep a Secret", can't wait to read this one.

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  47. My best friend introduced my to your books and I have loved them ever since. It's also something that we chat about over a brew! Can't ask for more than that.

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  48. Sophie Kinsella is my daughters favourite author. She re-reads her books over and over. Your new book sounds fantastic and will be fabulous to add to her collection and give her something new to read x

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  49. This book has all the hallmarks of what we love about Sophie Kinsella's writing. Great characters, great writing, fast pace, great entertainment. Love it!

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