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Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella – An Excerpt

After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years… and panic sets in.
They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all…
Number one bestselling author,  Sophie Kinsella‘s emotionally charged, witty new standalone novel, Surprise Me is about love and long-term relationship survival – and how those we think we know best can sometimes surprise us the most.
Let’s read an excerpt from the book here-
It’s good news, obviously. It’s great news. We’re super-healthy, we’re going to live long . . . we should be celebrating!
But sixty-eight more years of marriage? Seriously? I mean . . .
On the car journey home, we’re both quiet. I keep sending little glances to Dan when he’s not looking, and I can feel him doing the same to me.
‘So, that was nice to hear, wasn’t it?’ I begin at last. ‘About living till a hundred, and being married for . . .’ I can’t say the number out loud, I just can’t. ‘For a while longer,’ I end tamely.
‘Oh,’ replies Dan, without moving his head. ‘Yes. Excellent.’
‘Is that . . . what you imagined?’ I venture. ‘The marriage bit, I mean? The . . . uh . . . the length?’
There’s a huge pause. Dan is frowning ahead in that silent way he gets when his brain is dealing with some huge, knotty problem.
‘I mean, it’s kind of long,’ he says at last. ‘Don’t you think?’
‘It’s long.’ I nod. ‘It’s pretty long.’
There’s a bit more silence as Dan negotiates a junction and I offer him gum, because I’m always the gum-giver in the car.
‘But good long, right?’ I hear myself saying.
‘Absolutely,’ says Dan, almost too quickly. ‘Of course!’
‘Great. So.’
We lapse into silence again. Normally I would know exactly what Dan’s thinking, but today I’m not quite sure. I look at him about twenty-five times, sending him tacit, thought-wave messages: Say something to me. And, Start a conversation. And, Would it kill you to look this way, just once? But nothing gets through. He seems totally wrapped up in his own thoughts. So at last I resort to doing the thing I never do, which is to say: ‘What are you thinking about?’
Almost immediately, I regret it. I’ve never been that wife who keeps asking, ‘What are you thinking about?’ Now I
feel needy and cross with myself. Why shouldn’t Dan think in silence for a while? Why am I prodding him? Why can’t I give him space?
On the other hand: what the hell is he thinking about?
‘Oh.’ Dan sounds distracted. ‘Nothing. I was thinking about loan agreements. Mortgages.’
I almost want to laugh out loud. OK, this just shows the difference between men and women. Which is something I
don’t like saying, because I’m very much not a sexist – but honestly. There I am, thinking about our marriage, and there he is, thinking about mortgages.
‘Is there an issue with the mortgage or something?’
‘No,’ he says absently, glancing at the satnav. ‘Jeez, this route is going nowhere.’
‘So why were you thinking about mortgages?’
‘Oh, er . . .’ Dan frowns, preoccupied by his satnav screen.
‘I was just thinking about how before you sign up for one . . .’
He swings the wheel round, doing a U-turn and ignoring the
angry beeps around him. ‘. . . you know exactly how long the loan period is for. I mean, yes, it’s twenty-five years, but
then it’s done. You’re out. You’re free.’
Something clenches my stomach and before I can think straight, I blurt out, ‘You think I’m a mortgage?’
I’m no longer the love of his life. I’m an onerous financial arrangement.
‘What?’ Dan turns to me in astonishment. ‘Sylvie, we’re not talking about you. This isn’t about you.’
Oh my God. Again, I’m really not being sexist, but . . . men.
‘Is that what you think? Do you not hear yourself?’ I put on my Dan-voice to demonstrate. ‘“We’re going to be married for a massive long time. Shit. Hey, a mortgage is really good because after twenty-five years, you’re out. You’re free.”’ I resume my normal Sylvie-voice. ‘Are you saying that was a random thought process? Are you saying the two are unrelated?’
‘That is not—’ Dan breaks off as realization catches up with him. ‘That is not what I meant,’ he says with renewed vigour. ‘I’d actually forgotten all about that conversation with the doctor,’ he adds for good measure.
I shoot him a sceptical look. ‘You’d forgotten it?’
‘Yes. I’d forgotten it.’
He sounds so unconvincing, I almost pity him.
‘You’d forgotten about the sixty-seven more years we’ve got together?’ I can’t help laying a little trap.
‘Sixty-eight,’ he corrects instantly – then a tell-tale flush comes to his face. ‘Or whatever it is. As I say, I really don’t remember.’
He’s such a liar. It’s etched on his brain. Just like it is on mine.


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