Saturday, January 21, 2023

January Read: The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman


I bought this book when it first came out in September 2022 and off it went into my stack of TBR titles. I pulled it out a few days ago and just spent my Saturday reading it. It's a gloomy day, so it was perfect to read with a pot of coffee and a comfy blanket.  

I love the cover; it definitely grabbed my attention. I'm a sucker for a feel-good novel about a bit of magic and when it's combined with people finding love, I couldn't resist. 

This novel is told in two time periods: the early 1900's and 1994. I was thrown for a loop reading about the 1990's as if it were decades ago until it sank in that IT WAS DECADES AGO. Had a moment of feeling old!

Sara Glickman is traveling to America in 1910 with her family to start a new life in New York City. She makes a romantic match between her older sister and a man on the ship, and even at ten years old, Sara's gift is apparent. She can see true love matches/soulmates. It ruffles the feathers of the shadchanteh, the Jewish matchmakers that broker deals between families. She's young, female, and unmarried. She's also taking money away from this group of men. The difference is that Sara matches soulmates, and the matchmakers match purely on "suitability" and money. Sara has to keep her matchmaking quiet through her teen years, so her family doesn't get into trouble. One match, between the Pickle King's daughter and a dentist, changes Sara's life, as well as her family's fortunes. But it causes some trouble, too. 

Forward to 1994, and Sara has sadly just passed away peacefully at the age of 95. Her granddaughter Abby is a young divorce lawyer in New York City, and she's devastated at her beloved grandmother's passing. She inherits Sara's journals, and begins reading through them. What she finds are the notes Sara made on each of her matches over the years, and Abby begins to believe, finally, that her grandmother was telling the truth all those years about her matchmaking skills. 

Abby and Sara's stories move back and forth, with the journals the bridge between what Abby reads and the real story from Sara's perspective. Abby may have inherited her grandmother's gift, and it may be causing some problems at Abby's job...

I found this to be a quick read, and so very interesting. I had no idea the job of matchmaking was taken so seriously by the Jewish community and culture. It's fascinating. The clash of old world traditions and fitting into the new world are illustrated throughout Sara's story, and the ties between her matches in the early 20th century and Abby's 1994 world are pretty interesting and make the whole story come full circle. 

Anyone who enjoys fiction with a bit of romance (but not necessarily a romance novel), and the history of matchmaking in New York City will enjoy this novel. It was lighthearted, interesting, and full of likable characters. I especially enjoyed Sara's character--full of spunk and smart as a whip. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel about finding your right person; knowing the path of happiness isn't always smooth, but worth all the trouble in the end. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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