THE MATCHMAKER’S LIST
Written by: Sonya Lalli
Read by: Soneela Nankani
10 Hours and 41 Minutes
Penguin Random House Audio | Imprint: Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Romance – Multicultural & Interracial
Release Date: February 05, 2019
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
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. https://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/566986/the-matchmakers-list/
My perpetual feeling while reading this story was annoyance with the characters for being overtaken by cultural pressure. Raina is pressured by her grandmother, but her grandmother is also under pressure from a culture that has allowed women to pursue big careers but still wants them to marry and get pregnant as quickly as possible. Indian culture is about much more than marriage, money, unfamiliar deities, and spicy food. But, in literature, we mostly see marriage and restaurants portrayed as the biggest aspects of Indian culture. To be sure, family is important in Indian culture, and family rides on marriage, many of which are arranged. But this story has additional aspects to it. It puts the closeness of the relationship between Raina and her Grandmother front and center, and how hard it is for Raina to rebel. And, Raina has always seen her grandmother as, more or less a saint for raising her when her mother left, not getting any insight into her mother’s reasons.
I do not know how children born out-of wedlock are treated in Nani’s culture; maybe being in Toronto makes her acceptance a little easier than it would have been in India.
I was also annoyed at Raina for chasing after a guy she thought she loved. Many have relationships like that, but since he was of the same culture, I would not have expected his callous treatment. It reminded me of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen; especially of Marianne. And, then waiting around for him to man-up, ugh! it was annoying.
The book also looks at how Canadian society is accepting people of other cultures. And, being only half Indian is another factor in the tug-of-war between Canadians of Indian descent and their India-born family. Well Raina’s mom “rebelled” and that made it nearly impossible for her to stay; that is Raina’s example of what happens if you go against your family.
The relationship Raina ends up in seems, in my listening experience, to be a little low on basis for depth of emotional attachment. It goes back and forth between like and dislike and like. I thought the basis for dislike was overblown.
I found the changes between points of view and time somewhat confusing. I think it has something to do with the present voice being from Raina’s P.O.V. and the past in the third-person, but it still felt strange.
That societal integration comes with a narrator who has a great Indian accent and a great Canadian accent. She doesn’t overly age Nani, and does okay with the guys too.
So I was essentially annoyed with the cultural conflict and what I considered unwarranted emotional involvement. But I liked how the author worked on the cross-cultural and societal issues.