Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Q&A w Lynda Cohen Loigman, The Matchmaker’s Gift

January 26th, 2023
Books & Authors

Lynda Cohen Loigman’s third novel The Matchmaker’s Gift is a charming, fast-paced story about Sara, a matchmaker on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 1900’s who can see other peoples’ soulmates and Abby, her granddaughter who has inherited her grandmother’s gift, but problematically is a divorce attorney in the 1990’s. If only Sara and Abby’s gifts weren’t a work of fiction, imagine all the unhappy pairings that could be spared.  I loved this book and found it a joy to read. You’ll love the characters, their relationships, the historical elements, and all the unusual matches made possible with a little magic.

Below is my interview with Loigman:

Tell us a few of the more surprising facts that you learned that you included in your story?

Before I began researching this novel, I assumed that all Jewish matchmakers in the earlier part of the twentieth century were like Yenta from Fiddler on the Roof, or Dolly Levi from Hello Dolly. What I found out, however, was that in New York City, in 1910, there were over five thousand professional Jewish matchmakers, and that the bulk of them were men. When I learned this, I knew that I wanted Sara to live and work during those years. I knew that, as a young, unmarried woman, she would struggle for a place in the professional world of the men she was competing against. The research solidified the time period for me, as well as clarifying the conflict of my main character.

I love all the Yiddish sayings scattered throughout, often used as chapter heads: When a Thief Kisses You, Count Your Teeth, It’s Never Too Late to Die or Get Married, He Bakes Lies Like They Are Bagels, When You Weep, the One You Are Meant for Tastes the Salt of Your Tears. Can you tell us which is your favorite Yiddish phrase and why?

The last phrase you mention has always been the most powerful for me. It’s actually a Hebrew saying that I originally saw written as follows: “Let there be such oneness between us that when one cries, the other tastes salt.” I don’t think it originally had a romantic connotation, but I adapted it in order to imbue it with a romantic significance. In the story, when Abby asks Sara how to know if someone is the person she is meant to be with, Sara answers that when Abby weeps, the one she is meant for will taste the salt of her tears. To me, this is an incrediblly beautiful idea because it signifies absolute empathy and closeness.

You can read the rest of my Q&A here in 26.

January, 2023

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