Raina has been sent to live with her family in Toronto. From the fast paced (and arguably self destructive life) that she was leading in New York, Raina suddenly finds herself under the watchful eye of aunt, under the constant scrutiny of her new teachers and, most painfully, under the hateful gaze of her older sister Leah. Leah blames Raina for the destruction of her engagement to ex-fiancé Ben.
Through a series of serendipitous events, Raina finds herself acting as a matchmaker of sorts. She operates under the pseudonym matchmaven and becomes rather successful. Yet her biggest challenge comes when her sister Leah begs to be set up. Can Raina keep her secret identity hidden? Can she continue to be a successful matchmaker? And, rather importantly, can she do all this and pass her high school exams?
This may shock people, and please feel free to frown at me, but I did not like Emma by Jane Austen. I couldn’t connect with the character; I felt that she was a meddlesome flibberty-gibbet. Strangely, I love Clueless (for those of you not in the know Clueless is a 1990s modern adaption of Emma – where have you all been?) and I will admit, I really enjoyed Playing with Matches.
To begin with I was a little overwhelmed by the detail that was given. There was a lot of back story and exposition thrown at you and it was a little hard to take in at first but once I got used to the pace of the book I began to enjoy it.
As a reader, I couldn’t help but start to like Raina. She has flaws, we were continually reminded of them by her family, teachers and peers who made her out to be a horrible person but the things that she did – making romantic matches for people, spending time with the elderly and becoming friends with the bookish nerdy girl – you couldn’t help but fall for this underdog.
The story developed pleasantly and with each thing that went awry you heart swelled with a desire to see Raina succeed. The character was warm-hearted and loveable.
One of my favourite aspects of the book was Jewish element. Not being Jewish myself, I felt like I was on a guided tour of Jewish customs on dating and marriage. It added a whole extra quality to the book that I found educational and entertaining in equal part.
This is a perfect introduction for a younger audience into the styling’s of Jane Austen. And, like me, they might just enjoy this more than Emma.
Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen is available now.
You can follow Suri Rosen on Twitter @surirosen