Title: The Matchmaker’s List
Author: Sonya Lalli
Publisher: Berkley, imprint of Penguin Random House
Genre: Romantic comedy
No. of pages: 329
Recommended for: Romance genre lovers.
One devoted modern
girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural
romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it.
Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…
As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.
ARC provided by the Berkley publishers in exchange for an honest review.
The Matchmaker’s List was my first read of 2019 and it proved to be a really enjoyable and short read. I finished it in one day itself, in just around a couple of sittings.
Considering the fact that The Matchmaker’s List is a debut for the author Sonya Lalli, it ended up being one of the most enjoyable reads I have had this month, and I have already read around 10 so far.
The romance in this novel was so very realistic and as an Indian I really could relate to it. Raina Anand is your everyday individual with Indian roots and seeing the familial aspect that comes with all Indian families, I really loved it. As a character, she was very relatable – she is your average late-twenties girl, with her career in focus and with no intention of getting hitched. However, the certain heartache that comes with a returning flame is something many of us can relate to again. Her relations with her friends and her grandmother were adorable to read through and moreover, the dynamics of the relationship (or rather, the “non-existential” one) with her mother again, is one that has been created with quite the bit of careful interweaving of emotions. The author has been able to make Raina a very round character in this regard – and that is why she is so relatable to the reader as well.
The grandmother (nani) was also a very interesting character. Although I was very pissed off with her at times, for her meddlesome behaviour as she tried to control one aspect of Raina’s life (what she considered the most important aspect, mind you), her ability to accept and be there or her granddaughter when the time came – is very important. She is shown as a very caring and reformative woman, especially, after what she considers her failure in raising Raina’s mother- Manavi. The other characters – Asher, Dev, Shay, Depesh, Serena, Manavi (of whom I would have loved to read more), etc., were also well made.
The themes of friendship, love and relationships, family, etc were again, very much intertwined, so much so that one thing easily led to the other. Everything was related and the flow was consistent throughout. Homosexuality and its understanding and acceptance is also a key theme in this novel. Talking about the flow, the pacing of the story was just as good. The narrative was kept interesting until the very end.
However, what I would like to highlight is that The Matchmaker’s List is not just a romance or a chick-lit novel. There is quite some angst and emotion involved which one might consider dark, if they go in thinking it a mere rom-com read.
The writing style is also very smooth and reads like butter. The romance element is one of my favourite in the book, apart from the relationship that Raina has with her own self. Her growth as an individual, especially as the story progresses is remarkable and worth reading about. In one way, it still is a coming-of-age story with self-acceptance an underlying but just as important, theme.
The author has done a great job with this debut. Entertaining, intense and a very fun to read story, overall.
I rate it a 4/5 stars!
About the reviewer:
Nayanika Saikia, is one of the foremost book reviewers from the North-east and Assam, and is also an admin for the official India bookstagram page on Instagram. She publishes her own reviews and recommendations for poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. on her bookstagram account @pretty_little_bibliophile which won the NorthEast Creator Awards 2018, as well as in daily newspapers, online magazines etc. She can be contacted at email@example.com .