Review: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley

Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley
Published: July 1, 2014
Format: copy via Booksparks
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Rating 4/5
Buy the book: Amazon kindle/ paperback

With pitch-perfect honesty and heartwarming humor, this captivating debut explores marriage, motherhood, identity, and what it takes to love someone—family members, friends, or spouses—for life.

Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child who proudly disdained monogamy, raising three daughters—each by a different father—largely on her own. Now in her sixties, Helen has fallen in love with a traditional man who desperately wants to marry her. And while she fears losing him, she’s equally afraid of abandoning everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.

Meanwhile, Helen’s youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with her soul mate. But he has an ex-wife and two kids, and her new role as a “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, has put her bohemian past behind her and is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, and her painting is suffering as a result—and she realizes she may need to break free again, even if it means disrupting the lives of her two young children. And then there’s Fiona, the eldest sister, who has worked tirelessly to make her world pristine, yet who still doesn’t feel at peace. When she discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, Fiona loses her tenuous grip on happiness and is forced to face some truths about herself that she’d rather keep buried.

Interweaving the alternating perspectives of Helen, her daughters, and the women surrounding them, “each new chapter brings a wise and tender look at single life, dating rituals, and marital unease” (New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Close). In this “absolute feat of storytelling” (bestselling author Grace O'Connell), Marissa Stapley celebrates the many roles modern women play, and shows that even though happy endings aren’t one-size-fits-all, some loves really can last for life.

My Thoughts
Mating for Life is told through the voices of Helen and her three daughters. The theme throughout this novel is love. How to get it, keep it or let it go for something that might be truer out there. I love that we get to see how each female sees love. Some are afraid and some are always searching for something more.

As I was reading it I was definitely seeing how their mother Helen’s relationships might have shaped her daughters view of love. While Helen is so carefree in so many aspects of her life when it comes to love she is so cut off emotionally. She is free as far as sexually but love and commitment is where she fails. I can see why her daughter’s views of love are all over the place. Can one blame them? One can’t blame them for craving the stability of love and family or it can go the other way for instance being totally uncommitted. This is a story that is beautifully written and grabs you with the tales of how each daughter deals with lives. A great study on relationships especially about love or the fear of it, it makes one wonder if the whole nature vs nurture debate is true. Can ones views on the subject come just naturally or are our views subjected to wavier on what we see?

  About the author
Marissa Stapley is a National Magazine Award nominated writer and former magazine editor whose work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Elle Canada, and many others. Mating for Life (Atria Books; Simon & Schuster Canada) is her first novel. When Marissa is not writing, she’s reading. (In fact, she never goes anywhere without a book. Except maybe swimming.) Some of her favourite authors are Meg Wolitzer, Julia Glass, Alice Munro, John Irving, Lauren Groff, Margaret Atwood and James Salter. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children, where she teaches writing, and is working on another novel.

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  1. I really enjoyed this one, Monica! Great review, and I hope you enjoyed it, as well! The one you're reading now looks hilarious... :)

    1. Thanks I did! Just finished top ten clues. Very cute and funny with a dash of breakfast club feel.