I had been hearing a lot of buzz about Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson in my book club, so when it went on sale in the Kindle store over the holidays, I knew I had to get it and take a read for myself. I’m fascinated with the art of matchmaking (my mother-in-law actually worked for an online matchmaking company for a while before I met my husband—and it sounds like it would be so much fun!), and I was looking for a good love story to breeze through on a snowy week.
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.
This book came highly recommended and has some great reviews on Goodreads, so I was super excited to dive in. While I was interested in the cast of characters that were living in Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone, I really didn’t find any love in my heart for Marnie… she’s kind of a terrible person. She claims to be really close to her family, but she’s constantly judging them for loving their suburban lives, and she’s terrible at staying in touch with them. She seems to use the men in her life only when they’re convenient, and she rarely says anything nice about them. Though her endgame relationship is definitely better than her other ones, I don’t really see how love bloomed so quickly between the couple.
I was disappointed by the matchmaking aspect of the book, as well. I was hoping there was going to be more to it than getting an inkling that people were good for each other and a spell book that didn’t actually have any spells. Blix felt that Marnie had a similar gift to hers, but most (if not all?) of the couples that end up together in the book were brought together because of Blix, not Marnie: Marnie just happened to be there to see how the stories ended.
Patrick, however, is an intriguing character that I thought made a great leading man. He is flawed, moody, introverted, and yet charming and compelling. His backstory is heartbreaking, and I just wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be all right. His wit and his sense of humour was refreshing—I kind of wish this story was more about him and his journey, or even the stories of the rest of the people living in Blix’s house.
Food for thought
Since I was really hoping for a story that had matchmaking as the central plot, I want to know what you think. Which book with a fictional matchmaker do you recommend I pick up next?
“The subversive truth about love is that it really is the big deal everyone makes it out to be, and it’s not some form of security or an insurance policy against loneliness. It’s everything, love is. It runs the whole universe!” —Maddie Dawson, Matchmaking for Beginners
Thank you to Alex Block on Unsplash for spreading the love with the photo of the painted wood.