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The Matchmaker's Gift


The Matchmaker's Gift

Lynda Cohen Loigman, the bestselling author of THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE and THE WARTIME SISTERS, once again employs her trademark talent for immersive settings and expertly crafted dual storylines in THE MATCHMAKER’S GIFT, a cross-generational saga of love, ambition and magic.

Sara Glikman is only 10 years old when she makes her first match. On the steamship from Libava to New York City, she watches as her lovelorn sister, Hindel, weeps for the sweetheart she left behind for a better life. As Sara goes off to find a handkerchief for her, she spots an unassuming, bespectacled man with a tender, gentle nature about him. She then sees a strand of golden light between him and Hindel, encouraging her to push them together.

Three months later, the two are married in 1910 New York City, a world of pushcart-filled streets, crowded tenements and a changing approach to traditions as hundreds of families just like Sara’s enter a new country and lifestyle in search of opportunity. As a member of the Jewish faith, Sara is no stranger to the concept of matchmakers, but the neighborhood shadchanim are all men, rabbis who are married themselves and use their observance of religious traditions to make matches…while securing portions of their couples’ dowries as payment. Although Sara confides in Rabbi Sheinkopf about the magic of her sister’s romance, she keeps her gift a secret from most everyone else, especially the greedy matchmakers who control the matches of her neighborhood on the Lower East Side.

"Although the book is no fantasy, it crackles with real, powerful magic that is matched perfectly by Loigman’s beautifully crafted characters, whose battles with feminism, religion, ambition and power ground this gorgeous, uplifting novel and give it some weighty emotional heft."

More than 80 years later, Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, also has made a career of love…the dissolution of it. As a successful divorce attorney working under one of the city’s most famous --- and cutthroat --- star lawyers, Abby is aware of just how ugly love can make people. The product of a failed marriage herself, she knows that she has chosen her career as an antidote to love’s toxicity, yet she adores her love-obsessed grandmother.

Retired from the matchmaking business for 40 years, Sara still delights in putting her nose where it doesn’t belong --- whether it means telling Abby that her college boyfriend isn’t the one, predicting the fallout of the royal marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, or devouring gossip rags and deciding once and for all that Hollywood’s most fiery couples aren’t done yet, despite their hiring of divorce lawyers. Every bit as full of life and fire as she was when she first showed up to help raise Abby and her sister 14 years ago, Sara is a force to be reckoned with, even at 94…which is why Abby is so shocked when she passes peacefully in her sleep.

Sara always told Abby, “One day, my brilliant skeptic, I’ll be gone, and all of my stories will belong to you,” but Abby has no idea just how literal this warning is until boxes of her grandmother’s journals show up at her apartment. Expecting diaries of Sara’s life and love story with her grandfather, Abby is disappointed to see that the notebooks are more like catalogs, full of the names, ages, professions and temperaments of the people her grandmother knew as a girl. It’s obvious that Abby has inherited these matchmaking journals, but it isn’t clear what Sara wanted her, a staunch skeptic and anti-romantic, to learn from them…until she meets Jessica Cooper.

Although her grandmother was fiery and friendly, Abby is surprised when Sara’s eye doctor approaches her personally at the shiva, begging her to come visit when she’s ready. As it turns out, Jessica is the product of one of Sara’s early matches, a pairing between a young medical student and a friend of her sister’s. Shortly before she died, Sara agreed to come out of retirement to find Jessica her match. Despite her magical gift, she was never able to locate that soulmate, though she assured Jessica that Abby could pick up where she left off. Already drowning under an immense workload --- including the prenuptial agreement between a fifty-something celebrity designer and his 25-year-old model fiancé, and the fourth divorce of an emotional hotelier and her poet husband --- Abby is gobsmacked by the revelation, but even more so by her grandmother’s stories.

While Abby continues to read through her grandmother’s journals, learning the love stories of the princess of New York City’s Pickle King, Sara’s college boyfriend and even her own grandfather, she finds surprising parallels to her life and cases. And, in a shocking moment of clarity, she spots the same glistening light that sealed her grandmother’s first match. The only problem is that it suggests a connection between the man she’s sort of, kind of dating and the young fiancé of one of her boss’s most demanding clients. Abby is nowhere near ready to accept that she has inherited her grandmother’s gift, but she’s even less prepared to accept the most beautiful, expensive gift of all: her own love story. Unfortunately for her, she’ll need to both serve her most difficult clients and forge her own path in life and love.

Lynda Cohen Loigman has proven time and again that she has no peer when it comes to crafting immersive, educational and expansive historical settings, or populating them with multifaceted characters. But in THE MATCHMAKER’S GIFT, she adds a totally new element: magic. Although the book is no fantasy, it crackles with real, powerful magic that is matched perfectly by Loigman’s beautifully crafted characters, whose battles with feminism, religion, ambition and power ground this gorgeous, uplifting novel and give it some weighty emotional heft.

I loved reading about Sara, pitched against her own culture by the fears of others and their adherence to tradition, and her devotion to love. Still, I saw myself in cynical, curious Abby and her dedication to her clients and career. But what really sold me on this spellbinding novel was the exquisite bond between grandmother and granddaughter, and Loigman’s rendering of the gifts of legacy, inheritance and acknowledgment of the past.

This warm, uplifting and utterly charming story will make you believe in love again, in all its forms and renditions.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on September 23, 2022

The Matchmaker's Gift
by Lynda Cohen Loigman