Never Too Old for Love (Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club – Roselle Lim) – ARC Review

Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club, Roselle Lim
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
Publisher: Berkley
Length:
336 pages
Contains: verbal/emotional abuse, some language, pop culture references, LGBT romance
My rating: 3.5-4 stars
Summary:
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 are put to the test as she learns the depths of loneliness, heartbreak, and love by attempting to make the hardest matches of her life.


Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is a magical book that got me out of my reading AND reviewing slump back in May, but I was too lazy to format it, so you’re getting it on publication day. But because of my procrastination, I can also share two posts that popped up in my inbox today!

  • Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea has a great author interview with Roselle Lim as part of a series for Wikathon 2022.
  • Avery @ B for Bookslut is at it again with another review that manages to capture all my feelings about a book and articulate my thoughts much more eloquently than I can.

I received an eARC from the Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You know that feeling when you find the right kind of book at exactly the right time? That’s what happened with Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club.

My last read was so heavy, I needed to recover with a chill read and absolutely DEVOURED Roselle Lim’s latest book. Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is an absolute delight and is exactly the kind of mellow, breezy story I needed after a long and exhausting month.

With a mouth full of sweet teeth, a love for snacks and a pocketful of Asian candy, Sophie Go is a girl after my own heart, and her Lonely Hearts Club of seven bachelors had my whole heart. The story is a heartfelt exploration of life, love and loneliness that ultimately celebrates love in all its forms.

While some readers may find the pacing in Sophie Go’s Lonely Heart’s Club a bit slow, but I thought it was just right. There’s an ease to the way Roselle Lim approaches the story, and the unhurried, relaxed manner makes the story flows easily and seamlessly. There’s just a really soothing quality to this story in spite of some the more difficult and complex family dynamics (more on that later.) Because of that, I’d say the actual story is more slice-of-life than fluffy romance, but if you’re looking for a love story that goes beyond the romantic and also features platonic, (found) familial, and self-love, this is the book for you.

I low-key have dreams of being a matchmaker, so I love the premise of a matchmaker who can see the red threads of fate. I’m not usually a fan of magical realism, but Roselle Lim has a knack for unapologetically infusing bits of magic into her stories in a way that just works. And though I loved the concept of accredited matchmakers running around making matches and nurturing love, I do wish the idea had been explored a bit more. For the most part the idea of magical matchmakers is incorporated into the story pretty naturally, but I feel like there are some holes in the worldbuilding. The idea that matchmakers are born without red threads is only introduced briefly and never really expanded on. I still don’t fully understand it having read the entire book. I also would’ve liked to have a little more insight into the role of the Match Making Society and idea of thread restoration ceremonies.

The seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors are what initially sparked my interested in Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club, and the Old Ducks did not disappoint. I love old people, and these geriatric bachelors totally steal the show. (Also, the found family aspect is ADORABLE.) We don’t get to spend a lot of time with every single one of them, but they each have their own distinct personalities and each individual is endearing in his own way. They seriously made this book for me. My personal favorites are Mr. Regret, a sweet, grandfatherly baker, and Mr. Porcupine, the grouchy ringleader who I found concerning relatable.

Despite being a book about love, this is not a particularly romance-centric book. Sophie’s own romance plays a relatively minor role in the story, and though the matches she makes are cute, they aren’t the sole focus of the story. I personally found all the romances a bit too simplistic and undeveloped to get emotionally invested in, though I did like what little we saw of Sophie’s love interest. I found myself preferring the other relational aspects of the book, especially the intergenerational friendships between Sophie and her newfound clients.

The heart of the story is really Sophie’s road to self-discovery. It’s sometimes painful to read about her journey to self-love, but there’s something refreshingly hopeful about it. I loved watching her relationships with the Old Ducks develop, but the most compelling aspect of the book, in my opinion, is Sophie’s relationship with her parents. I’m always a fan of complex family relationships, but the relationship in Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is just straight-up unhealthy. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything like that, and I just thought it was a really interesting choice. (I also have so many questions for Roselle Lim.) The exploration of the Go family dynamics are honest and real without becoming emotionally heavy or draining, which I really appreciate. I do think the issues of emotional and verbal abuse could’ve been handled with a bit more finesse. Her parents are written in really broad strokes and what Avery @ B for Bookslut perfectly describes as “a cartoon villain quality.” I just feel like it’s such sensitive topic could’ve been that much more impactful if the parental relationship were further developed and handled with more care.

My main issue with Sophie Go’s Lonely Heart Club is the sudden shift in the final act. I can see what Roselle Lim was trying to do, but it just feels disjointed and doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the book. Part of me wonders if the original ending was scrapped, and the third act was added on last-minute (from what I can gather from the acknowledgements section, there was an event Lim’s personal life that I suspect might be related to the sudden ending.) There isn’t really a natural transition to the climax, and it makes the third act feel like it’s at odds with the rest of the story. It’s a shame because this perfectly lovely book ends on a discordant note.

Overall, reading Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club was such a comforting experience. It was like the literary equivalent to listening to chill lo-fi (or ASMR, if you’re into that kind of thing.) I had no brain power when I picked it up, but it was an unassuming, quiet book that didn’t demand anything from me which was exactly what I needed. My usual mindless reading choices lean toward fluffy romance, but there was something surprisingly satisfyingly about Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club even though it wasn’t strictly a conventional romance. At risk of sounding corny, Roselle Lim’s latest book is the literary equivalent of a hug or a cozy day spent curled up with a good book and a warm cup of tea.


9 comments

  1. Ahh, oh my Veronica, you’re going to make me cry! Thank you for your kind words! Your review is the elegant to my antagonistic ones haha I love how eloquent you are and this review is it! So calm, so respectful and so detailed! Ilu ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Avery 😍😍 Thank you so much! I always love reading your reviews, especially because I’ll often write mine, read yours, then think “oh yeah, those are all the other things I forgot/wanted to say.” I’m so glad I found your blog ♥ It’s hard enough finding someone who has the same tastes in books, so finding someone who also has similar thoughts about story and character has been so much fun!

      Like

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