The Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel, by Lynda Cohen Loigman — A Review

From the desk of Rachel McMillan:

“A drop of love sometimes brings an ocean of tears.” (137)

After learning that Lynda Loigman’s forthcoming book was about a matchmaker in 1910s New York City, I begged her for any early PDF file. She was kind enough to oblige. After all, I had quite enjoyed the emotional depth of her previous historical novels. Having read The Matchmaker’s Gift twice, I am able to appreciate it not only for its central story but also its evocative blend of history and wisdom: as intricately and beautifully design as the Ketubahs elaborately serving as the frame for wedding contracts (and lovingly referenced on the cover of The Matchmaker’s Gift). Previously, my experience with matchmakers was mostly through plays such as Fiddler on The Roof and Hello, Dolly!, films like Crossing Delancey, and television such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Always fascinated by the gift and intuition that must accompany the selection of a match, Longman’s revelation that women were not historically the matchmakers before the early 20th Century fascinated me even more.

Pushing Through Tradition to Become a Matchmaker

“The heart is big enough to hold both grief and love.” (41)

In 1910s Lower East Side, New York, Sara Glickman isn’t like other children her age. Like a burning light, she can sense the connection between two souls. Believed blessed, Sara can see soulmates reaching for each other even when they cannot. While matchmaking is largely left to the men who deem women a threat to their age-old profession and traditions, Sara cannot ignore her gift. Soon, she pushes through the boundaries of her time to become a successful shadchanteh, or matchmaker, in the Jewish tradition; but like any bittersweet story, a mix of grief and love is harboured in her heart even as she celebrates the unions of others. Traditions change and love lasts and fades and even a war threatens to burden those who are still echoing stories of harder times, of poverty and immigration.

 Abby Inherits her Grandmother’s Gift

In 1994 Sara’s granddaughter Abby is met with challenges of her own: even if women have far more agency in both marriage and job market. A successful divorce lawyer working under a demanding boss, Abby wants little to do with Sara’s gift. Surprisingly, Abby’s connection with Sara may be the hurdle that keeps her from following her ascent within her firm. Further, as the child of divorced parents, Abby must reconcile her own experience with love’s betrayal even while accepting that she has inherited her grandmother’s talent for binding two humans together.

A Dual Time Frame Storyline

In both time periods, the central conflicts surround the business of love, and it takes Loigman’s special magic to weave two periods together so wonderfully. The defense of love, per se, becomes a major motif in the book: as Sara is forced to defend her ability as matchmaker to a court headed by Rabbinical judges just as Abby squares off against a formidable female boss (who more than once reminded me of Sigourney Weaver’s character in Working Girl).

I was besotted with how Loigman embroidered Sara’s coming-of-age in Lower East Side Manhattan. From the pickle and bagel shops to the Yiddish Dailies and even into the First World War. Though Abby’s world is slightly more recognizable to the contemporary reader, it is still technically a historical look (albeit a more recent one). Both time periods spark alive with Loigman’s careful descriptions.

An Exploration of Sara’s Journals Helps Abby Discover Her True Self

A wonderful testament to recognizing and nourishing the gifts given us as well as the wisdom that transcends generations: not just in hearsay but in the intimate primary sources of documents. It is through the exploration of Sara’s journals that Abby finds her propensity for matchmaking made manifest: matches appear to her like a glow or silver thread or bolt of lightning, much as they did her grandmother before her. But, when it comes to her own heart, she is cursed with the same doubts and delights as Sara was.

When you weep, the one you are meant for tastes the salt of your tears”. (297)

Through both women’s stories, The Matchmaker’s Gift champions persisting with a gift even when your heart and brain tell you otherwise: acknowledging that sometimes your purpose and talent transcend your own forged path as destiny and kismet intersect.

A Pandemic Lockdown Novel

Perhaps what struck me most about The Matchmaker’s Gift was the central experience of human connection and connectivity from an author who has been transparent about how the pandemic influenced her writing of the story and how a fateful discussion in lockdown inspired her to temporarily shelve her work in progress in exchange for this story.  Indeed, Loigman’s relationship with this book and the lightning strike of an idea she had when she first pursued it is not unlike the revelation Abby and Sara have that they have made a match.

Love in an Age of Isolation

As a hardcore romantic and staunch believer in love, this book was a refreshing caption on love in many forms: from familial to friendship to romantic. But more still it was a capsule of the importance people used to make of love: whether for business or family ties or even companionship. In an age of isolation and TikTok, we have largely replaced personal relationships for screens and intimate revelations for filtered truths.

A Treasure to Gift

If I speak of this book in broad strokes, it is because it touched me with lasting thematic resonance. I carry its love and wisdom close through highlighted and underlined and now dog-eared pages. This book is a treasure and one that should be gifted to everyone on your list.

5 out of 5 Stars


Rachel McMillan is the author of The Herringford and Watts mysteries, The Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries, The Three Quarter Time series, The London Restoration and The Mozart Code.  Her 2023 releases include Operation Scarlet and The Castle Keepers. She has also written two works of non-fiction: Dream Plan Go: A Travel Guide for Independent Adventure and A Very Merry Holiday Movie Guide. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and is always reading. Visit Rachel online at Rachel


  • The Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel, by Lynda Cohen Loigman
  • St. Martin’s Press (September 20, 2022)
  • Hardcover, eBook, & audiobooks (320) pages
  • ISBN: 978-1250278098
  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction


We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of St. Martin’s Press © 2022; text Rachel McMillan © 2022,

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