The Matchmaker, Elin Hilderbrand’s new summer novel, brings readers back to the place where the sand is hot but the ground is healing — Nantucket. This beautifully written and thought-provoking story illustrates the power of love and emphasizes the notion that we have one life to live — how can we make it count? What’s truly significant? She gently reminds us to embrace our best, authentic selves.
Forty-eight-year old Dabney Kimball Beech is Nantucket’s renowned matchmaker. She brings people together and brings love into the world.
In addition to her matchmaking reputation, Dabney is the Director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. She plans holiday events, hosts traditional festivities and ensures that everything runs smoothly, down to the ribbon sandwiches. She wholeheartedly embodies Nantucket, and due to a traumatic childhood experience, she rarely leaves home.
And while Nantucket encompasses every fiber of Dabney’s being, her love for her high school sweetheart, Clendenin Hughes, is also very much a part of her.
The novel’s opening pages begin with a letter from Clen, announcing his return to Nantucket after living abroad for 27 years. After two decades apart, Clen’s arrival revives a pertinent history and a shared past.
Clen’s reappearance parallels Dabney’s physiological ailments — she labels her symptoms as ‘lovesick.’ However, after completing some medical tests, her diagnosis turns out to be much more grave than she originally thought.
The Matchmaker incorporates a theme that I’ve always found incredibly intriguing — the resurrection of the past. This sentiment echoes the truth that life is unpredictable, that things can change and paths can be rerouted and altered. It’s interesting to witness these two characters navigate the waters of unfinished business and ultimately decide the best course of action. After all, their choices affect the lives of others, too.
Hilderbrand also captures Dabney’s incomprehensible and painfully frightening prognosis in a genuine, heartfelt manner. Life is short, which emphasizes the aforementioned theme as well. Dabney must cope with her illness to the best of her ability. She must follow her heart, embrace authenticity and savor the now.
Oscar Wilde said that life imitates art. A month before the publication date of The Matchmaker, Hilderbrand was diagnosed with breast cancer. In an interview with CBS News (), the author speaks vulnerably and honestly of her fears, admitting that although she just wrote about a character who endures a similar plight, she was not emotionally prepared in the least.
“Why is it that the threat of losing life makes us come to appreciating life?” Hilderbrand was asked. “That’s a question Dabney answers, and that I’m asking myself.” She said that after her diagnosis, her perspective shifted; the existential thinker within manifested.
When asked how she would re-write Dabney, after undergoing her own battle, she relayed that she now has an intangible understanding. “Some things you only understand when you’re inside them.” Hilderbrand is on the road to full recovery since receiving a double mastectomy.
From the first page to the last, Elin Hilderbrand’s The Matchmaker takes readers on a moving journey — a journey composed of love, loss and the pivotal life lessons in between.
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Suval, L. (2014). Book Review: The Matchmaker. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/book-review-the-matchmaker/00020086
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Aug 2014
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