Friday, July 4, 2014
48-year-old Nantucketer Dabney Kimball Beech has always had a gift for matchmaking. Some call her ability mystical, while others - like her husband, celebrated economist John Boxmiller Beech, and her daughter, Agnes, who is clearly engaged to the wrong man - call it meddlesome, but there's no arguing with her results: With 42 happy couples to her credit and all of them still together, Dabney has never been wrong about romance.
Never, that is, except in the case of herself and Clendenin Hughes, the green-eyed boy who took her heart with him long ago when he left the island to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. Now, after spending 27 years on the other side of the world, Clen is back on Nantucket, and Dabney has never felt so confused, or so alive.
But when tragedy threatens her own second chance, Dabney must face the choices she's made and share painful secrets with her family. Determined to make use of her gift before it's too late, she sets out to find perfect matches for those she loves most. The Matchmaker is a heartbreaking story about losing and finding love, even as you're running out of time. -- Little, Brown
A few weeks ago, Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) DM'd me and told me that Elin Hilderbrand had breast cancer. While I don't "know" Ms. Hilderbrand personally, my heart went out to her. I almost feel as if I know her because I look forward to reading her "beach books" every summer. Plus, I had just seen her a few weeks before at BEA and she looked fantastic -- signing copies of her next book and handing out Coronas!
Kathy sent me the link to Ms. Hilderbrand's essay on Huffington Post, and I found it strange that the main character in her latest book THE MATCHMAKER has cancer. Life imitates art? I immediately decided to pick up this novel; and for the next few days, I thought about and prayed for Ms. Hilderbrand.
THE MATCHMAKER tells the story of Dabney, a 48 year old woman who has a knack for matchmaking. She actually can "see" whether couples are compatible. She has 42 successful couples to her credit; however, she doesn't think her daughter Agnes and her fiancé are going to be #43.
Dabney is married to Josh Beech, a successful economist, but things turn interesting when her high school sweetheart Clen arrives back on Nantucket after 27 years reporting in war zones. Clen has seen a lot and has been affected both mentally and physically; however, Dabney still finds herself drawn to him.
Dabney regrets every letting Clen go, and she is desperate for a second chance with love. Unfortunately, life throws Dabney a curve ball; and she is forced make choices and share secrets from her past with her family. Dabney finds her herself rushing to save those she loves before it's too late.
It probably doesn't come as any surprise that I adored THE MATCHMAKER. I am a huge fan of Ms. Hilderbrand's books, and summer wouldn't be summer without them. I admit that this book was especially poignant after discovering that Ms. Hilderbrand is dealing with her own health crisis, and I found myself tearing up much more than I normally would when reading a book like this one. I appreciated that this novel was both entertaining and humorous while also touching upon some very serious issues. It was an all-around special story! My only regret was that I read it in my house rather than on the beach!
I love how well Ms. Hilderbrand brings Nantucket to life! Dabney heads up Nantucket's Chamber of Commerce and she's definitely the best person possible to convince people that Nantucket is a great place to visit (and live!) I have never been to Nantucket, but I could visualize the town perfectly. In addition, all of the descriptions of food and restaurants made me hungry.
Often times when I read "beach books," I tend to think of them as light and predictable... not that there's anything wrong with that! But in the case of THE MATCHMAKER, that wasn't the case. There were plenty of light moments in the story; however, the book did take a very serious turn and one that I might not have seen coming. Even after Dabney gets ill, I have to say that I was surprised and touched by what occurred from her loved ones. It probably won't surprise you that this book has a sad ending, but I'd argue that it also has an uplifting message filled with hope and love too!
THE MATCHMAKER would make a great book club pick. I wasn't able to find a reading guide; however, you really shouldn't need to one to generate discussion. You could have a Nantucket-themed party with special food and drinks! Of course, you should serve Coronas in honor of Ms. Hilderbrand too. Some of the themes you might want to explore include mother/daughter relationships, love, marriage, trust, second chances, loss, grief, and secrets.
And look what the nice folks at Little Brown sent! It's called a Little Brown Box and it was chock full of goodies -- a selection of Elin Hilderbrand's favorite Nantucket treats including candles, soap, a kit, and caramels made with beer and pretzels, a copy of THE MATCHMAKER and an ARC of SO MUCH A PART OF YOU by Polly Dugan. I was absolutely thrilled when I opened this terrific surprise!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.