Note: There will be spoilers in this review.
In general, I like Elin Hildebrand. Sometimes she’s a little schlocky and a little too saccharine, and I feel like all her characters probably wear Lily Pulitzer all the time, but overall, I consider her a pretty good writer. If I see something of hers haven’t read, I usually pick it up, because she’s generally a sure thing. Except this one. I just couldn’t fall in love with it.
Set on the island of Nantucket, The Matchmaker tells the story of Dabney Kimball Beech, who runs the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce (I think? Maybe it’s the visitor’s center. I honestly can’t remember) and is Miss Nantucket. She’s a pillar of the community, someone that everyone admires, and as if that weren’t enough, she’s apparently an awesome matchmaker, and not like the Patty Stanger kind, but the kind that just knows how to put couples together. She’s got 42 happy couples under her belt, and is working on more. (And somehow nobody hates this woman? I feel like surely there’s a cadre of Nantucket women who don’t like her and her perfect headband and pearls. Where are the mean girls? Grown up mean girls are the worst.)
Dabney’s perfect little life is rolling along quite nicely. Her husband John, a celebrated economist who works in the city four days a week, is doing well at work, the chamber is hopping, and her daughter Agnes has come back home for the summer to figure out whether she really wants to marry the dolt she’s engaged to. But then Clendenin Hughes, Dabney’s first love, comes back in to town, and his arrival rocks Dabney to the core. She hasn’t seen him since he left when she was eighteen, and his presence back in her town tilts her world on its axis.
Of course, they begin an affair. They can’t help it. They’re in love. They always have been. It’s their second chance, don’t you see? It’s meant to be.
This is where Hildebrand lost me.
I’m not one of those women who can’t read about affairs. Admittedly, it took me a little while to be able to stomach it after my own personal experience with a spouse with a wandering eye and wandering pants, but there’s a way to write about affairs, and this just wasn’t it. Or maybe I just didn’t like Dabney. I don’t know. What I do know is that I couldn’t get on the Dabney + Clen 4eva train, and that left me feeling cold and more than a little duped, because I was supposed to like Dabney and Clem, and supposed to root for them, and I just couldn’t stand them. And that left me wondering what was wrong with me, and while a good book should make you think, it shouldn’t make you feel the way I felt when I was done reading this one.