cover image The Matchmaker

The Matchmaker

Elin Hilderbrand. Little, Brown, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-09975-2

Hilderbrand's (Barefoot) charming, poignant 13th novel chronicles what happens after a woman's true love returns to her 27 years after they've agreed to no longer be in touch. Born with the ability to discern whether a couple is a perfect match or doomed to fail, Nantucket girl Dabney Kimball Beech knew from the moment she met high-school sweetheart Clendenin Hughes that they were meant for each other. Sadly, ambitious Clen was also destined to have a case of wanderlust that would lead him to a reporter job on the other side of the world. Pregnant with his child but terrified of leaving the island after a childhood trauma involving her resentful mother, Dabney tells a reluctant Clen that she needs a clean break. When Clen shows up in Nantucket, Dabney is plagued by ominous spells of pain and weakness that she attributes to being lovesick. Now the mother to a grown woman named Agnes, Dabney can see that her daughter's fianc%C3%A9, C.J., despite being generous and charming, is also a controlling and ill-tempered poisonous match. Dabney's sweet husband, Box, seems to like him, but Box, a famous economist, is generally oblivious. Often away in Cambridge tending to teaching duties at Harvard, he hasn't had a physical relationship with Dabney in a while. Dabney begins a bittersweet affair with Clen while trying to urge her daughter away from C.J. Agnes, home for the summer, teams up with pal (and potential match) Riley Alsopp to get to the bottom of things after noticing her mother's suspicious absences. Hilderbrand's narrative is thoroughly readable, with likable heroes and believably despicable antagonists. One misstep is the downer ending; though you see it coming, it still feels like it belongs in another book. Despite this, Hilderbrand's story is an engaging read. (June)