Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club is super charming and sweet. I love all the Old Ducks and their respective romances. I had a major soft spot for Mr Wolf the cat lover and his eventual match. By the end of the novel, they’re planning a cruise with the cats, which is just super adorable. Gay BFFs Mr Dolphin and Mr Durian are also absolutely adorable; their respective matches are absolutely *chef’s kiss* perfect. Mr Sorrow’s story, and how he eventually meets his match, is heartbreaking and heartwarming; their first meeting is simply beautiful. And of course Mr Regret the baker, with his choice between two lovely potential matches. Amongst all the Old Ducks, he’s the one I just really want to hug. The source of his regret runs deep, and when he tells Sophie the women she’s helped him meet make him feel loved, how absolutely wonderful it feels to see him so happy. Honestly, this story has a charming hook and a super loveable cast of characters; for most of the story, I kept thinking about how I would love to see this made into a movie. The nicknames Sophie gives her clients are also super charming…who wouldn’t cheer on an elderly man named Mr Regret in his quest for true love? Sophie’s own romance was a bit underdeveloped, but it was still pretty charming.
I also love the detail about the red threads and how each person’s thread acts when there’s a potential love match nearby. I especially love how the red threads respond differently depending on the particulars of the match. In one, relatively straightforward match, the ends spark and immediately twine around each other. In another, where both parties are slightly more cautious, the ends begin to move in unison, close to each other but not quite twining around. And in a third, where the connection runs a bit deeper, the threads fuse together almost immediately, turning into a full-on rope with multiple knots. This is such a beautiful visual of how love works, and how it feels when we find our person, and I absolutely, absolutely love this part of the book.
I do wish Sophie had had a bit more backbone in standing up to her parents — her growth in this area felt a bit too late but also abrupt for me. I recognize the super toxic circumstances she grew up in — her mom is super abusive and her dad super cowardly — so I can understand why she would bite her tongue. Her mom’s cruelty is just so ridiculously over the top, and honestly just so one-note, that it’s a bit surprising it worked on Sophie for as long as it did. And given how much validation she was getting from people around her, I wish I’d seen a bit more of an internal progression within her.
For example, the confrontation at a birthday dinner comes fairly late in the book, at a point where Sophie does already show some growth by calling out her mom on a lie. When the mom fights back, hard, I wasn’t super surprised that Sophie eventually backs down, but I WAS surprised that she still internalized her mom’s insults so fulsomely. Still, I don’t want to underplay the effects of trauma, particularly the kind inflicted from childhood, so I can imagine this part of the story is sadly realistic.
Most of the novel for me was a solid 5 stars. But then something happens at the 90% mark that just shifts the tone and ruins the book for me, dropping it down to a 3-star read. I recognize the author has the right to end the book however she wants, but given how lovely and feel-good the novel had been to that point, this part of the ending felt unnecessary and just left a sour taste in my mouth. If this novel were to be made into a movie, I truly hope the filmmakers change this part of it.
Thanks to Berkley for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.