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Local Novelist Delves into World of Matchmaking in New Book

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Author Lynda Cohen Loigman’s new book “The Matchmaker’s Gift,” her third novel, is being released this week. Loigman got the idea for the book when she learned that her daughter’s college roommate’s grandmother is a matchmaker.

Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, a compilation of circumstances helped spawn the idea for local novelist Lynda Cohen Loigman’s new book.

Loigman’s college-age daughter had been sent home from school, and her son was also taking his high school classes virtually. With nowhere to go, her family had lots of opportunities to talk about a variety of topics, especially around the dinner table.

One of the discussions, she recalled, focused on the issues women face today in school and at work. Loigman then learned that the grandmother of her daughter’s college roommate was a matchmaker in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn.

For a historical fiction writer, Loigman couldn’t resist thinking about the possibilities of exploring a character, whose livelihood was far more common a century ago, juxtaposed with that character’s granddaughter, who she cast as a divorce attorney.

Loigman’s imagination led to the creation of her third novel, “The Matchmaker’s Gift,” in six years. It’s scheduled released by St. Martin’s Press is this week.

“I talked to my agent about it. I had been writing another book at the time, but my agent and my editor both wanted me to put that aside for a little bit and see what I could do for this matchmaker story,” said Loigman. “The main thing that I was thinking about at that time was well, I’m a writer of historical fiction, that’s what I write, so I have to come at this from a historical point of view.”

Before writing the book, Loigman, a Chappaqua resident who used to work as attorney, immersed herself into studying about the history of New York City matchmakers. She read old New York Times articles and found more valuable information on the website of the Museum at Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side.

“They have an exhibit called “Love on the Lower East Side,” and that was sort of a really interesting piece, and in that piece, it mentioned the weddings that happened on the Lower East Side in the early 1900s,” Loigman said.

She chose the 1910s and 1920s to cast her character, Sara Glikman. It was at a time when there were about 5,000 matchmakers doing business in the city. Of course, most of them were men in the Jewish community, who would not take kindly to having a young woman encroach on their turf.

Loigman’s novel also brings in Sara’s granddaughter, Abby, who is a young working attorney. Although Loigman wasn’t a divorce attorney like the character she created – she actually handled trusts and estates – she was able to develop Abby’s character through some of her own experiences.

Her research found that matchmakers must attend to the mundane along with finding the right match.

“She would keep records of all the eligible people, and she would try and match them up,” Loigman said. “So on the one hand, you would have all this busy work, keeping these records, keeping these organized files on people, and then on the other hand, it all comes down to something that’s a little bit magical. This idea of a love match versus a sort of mercenary match is sort of interesting, too.”

“The Matchmaker’s Gift” follows Loigman’s first two novels, “Two-Story House” in 2016 and “The Wartime Sisters,” published in 2019.
Loigman has a busy schedule promoting the book in the coming weeks with about 30 events scheduled both in the metropolitan area and around the country. This Wednesday evening, Sept. 21, she will be talking with author Allison Pataki about her book in a program at the Chappaqua Public Library at 7 p.m.

The following week, Sept. 28, she will be interview by author Annabel Monaghan at the Rye Free Reading Room at 7 p.m.

Correction: In the original posting of this article, it was incorrectly reported that Lynda Cohen Loigman spoke with the grandmother of her daughter’s college roommate.