Today a sweet new book by Roselle Lim hits the shelves: Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club. It follows a matchmaker who’s just starting her career, and her first clients happen to be a group of elderly bachelors called the Old Ducks. As Sophie Go helps these men find love, she also learns how to stand up for herself, finds genuine friendship, and even considers a romance of her own. With a hint of magic and family drama, this is a novel that is tender and ultimately uplifting.
Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
Sophie Go has just returned to Toronto after attending matchmaker school in Shanghai. Due to an unfortunate event that prevented her from graduating, she’ll have a hard time getting clients early on – clients she needs so she can submit paperwork to get accredited. Sophie may have struck gold, though, when she encounters a group of 70-year-old bachelors who live in her apartment building. If she can match each of these Old Ducks, she’ll finally be able to make a career as a matchmaker. But will her greedy and cold-hearted parents prevent her from finding success? And can she ever find love of her own? Sophie will be put to the test in more ways than one.
From the first pages, Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is an engrossing and charming novel. The titular character has made a big career change, and she’s full of ambition and enthusiasm as she begins her dream job as a matchmaker. There’s also a hint of magic: Sophie can see red threads spreading from people’s hearts. If they’re in a relationship, their thread ties with that of their partner. If they’re single and looking for love, their thread floats listlessly, sometimes perking up around potential matches. Sophie’s job is to help her clients find the best possible match, whether it’s their forever partner or just a short and sweet fling.
Despite her excitement to start helping clients, Sophie has some self-doubt and financial constraints – both of which largely stem from her parents. I’ll talk more about that in a moment, but suffice it to say, it’s all Sophie can do to keep her eyes on her matchmaking prize.
Luckily, she does indeed go after clients, ending up taking on a group of seven septuagenarians. Calling themselves the Old Ducks, these 70-something men may be higher up in years, but they still crave love. Some are widowers, others never found The One. Sophie will do all she can to help each of them. Sophie’s friendship with the elderly bachelors is perhaps my favorite aspect of the novel. It’s not often that I get to read about older characters, and especially rare to see friendships form between people separated by so many decades. But just as Sophie helps these kind bachelors find love, they help her grow more confident in herself.
Sophie also has a wonderful friend who’s living in Singapore. Though it’s a long-distance friendship now, Yanmei always stands by Sophie’s side and pushes her in the right direction… sometimes too forcefully, but it comes from a good place!
One fun quirk is that each of Sophie’s male clients is known only by a nickname she gives them. Among the Old Ducks, for example, there is Mr. Sorrow, a widower who hasn’t yet moved on, and Mr. Porcupine, a prickly and distrustful man who doesn’t like her right away. Readers never do learn their real names! (Except for one, but you’ll have to read to find out who and what it is.)
While Sophie’s matching up her clients, she has no time for dating of her own. Does she even want it? She eventually does get a bit of her own romance, but it’s a secondary subplot here. Even so, I quite enjoyed the gentle relationship that eventually blossomed for her.
The biggest conflict in Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club really is Sophie’s toxic relationship with her parents. Her mother is unaffectionate and critical at best, but often turns downright mean and emotionally abusive. Sophie’s dad, though seemingly loving, always chooses his wife over his daughter. Both parents make constant financial demands – often for things that cost thousands of dollars – leaving Sophie barely able to afford rent and her meager diet of ramen. Her parents aren’t just people that can’t get along with their only daughter; they’re full-on villains. Sophie’s mom may be the most evil character I’ve read, at least within this genre. I hated her, and I hated how small she made Sophie feel. It was often hard for me to understand why Sophie constantly gave into them and allowed their abuse to continue, though I do recognize that filial piety is an important aspect in Chinese culture. These attacks from Sophie’s parents got to be a bit much for me, lowering my rating, even though I loved the rest of the book.
Some final, cute details: Fans of the Beatles and various types of candy will likely have fun making note of the various songs and candy brands that are mentioned throughout the novel. And if you love baked goods (as I do), your mouth will be watering thanks to Mr. Regret’s frequent culinary experiments. Yum!
Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is a fun yet tender novel that balances magic, love for all ages, and family drama. Sophie is a conflicted yet relatable character, and I loved seeing her find friendship, love, and career success. This is a sweet novel… in more ways than one!
I will definitely read more from Roselle Lim, starting with her 2020 book, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop.
Get the Book
You can buy Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
|Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim|
|Number of Pages||336|
|Format I Read||ebook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||August 16, 2022|
A new heartfelt novel about the power of loneliness and the strength of love that overcomes it by critically acclaimed author Roselle Lim
Newly minted professional matchmaker Sophie Go has returned to Toronto, her hometown, after spending three years in Shanghai. Her job is made quite difficult, however, when she is revealed as a fraud—she never actually graduated from matchmaking school. In a competitive market like Toronto, no one wants to take a chance on an inexperienced and unaccredited matchmaker, and soon Sophie becomes an outcast.
In dire search of clients, Sophie stumbles upon a secret club within her condo complex: the Old Ducks, seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors who never found love. Somehow, she convinces them to hire her, but her matchmaking skills put to the test as she learns the depths of loneliness, heartbreak, and love by attempting to make the hardest matches of her life.
About the Author
Credit: Shelley Smith
Roselle Lim is the critically acclaimed author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop, and the upcoming Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club. She lives on the north shore of Lake Erie and always has an artistic project on the go.