I’m often hesitant about reading books with split timelines and include more than one leading character, or protagonist. I worry that the author won’t link the periods and people together well. I worry that there’s some big bombshell waiting to explode into the plot turning the story into something entirely different that I wouldn’t have chosen to read in the first place.
But still, I chose to read this book and I’m very glad I did. The author has woven the stories of two related women—grandmother and granddaughter—together in a way that makes sense and more than satisfies the reader. Indeed, this is a story that needed to be told from two points of view.
First, we meet Sara. She’s a young girl, a Jewish immigrant living in 1910 New York’s lower east side, and she has a natural gift for matchmaking. The problem is, in this culture, matchmaking is a man’s job. Perhaps a woman could do it, but she must be married.
Sara, however, is too young to even think of marriage for herself. Still, she’s quietly making matches for others and that gains her the displeasure of what I guess you would think of as the Matchmaker’s Union…a very unfriendly group!
The book flips back and forth between Sara and her granddaughter, Abby. The two were very close but Sara has recently passed and left Abby her many notebooks detailing her matches over the years. She’s heard about her grandmother’s past but never really knew the details.
Now, reluctantly at first, she’s learning who her grandmother really was…and the magical gift she possessed that guided her to make real love matches for her clients.
As Sara grew up and came to understand her matchmaking skills, she did her best to evade the notice of those grumpy old men. She also questioned whether she could ever trust in finding love for herself. Meanwhile, Abby is learning about her grandmother’s gift and wondering if she might have that gift as well.
The story is a page turner, and the character’s challenges feel real. The reader can’t help rooting for each of them. Along the way I learned more about New York’s Jewish community in the early 1900’s—the author does a wonderful job of describing the period and people. Minor characters are also woven well into both timelines.
The Matchmaker’s Gift was a delightful read and highly recommended.
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