Carol J. (Isle, MN)
Mother, daughters, husbands: who matters
It took me awhile to get into this book. I did enjoy the characters, but it took awhile to get them organized. I had mixed reactions to the structure of the novel. The chapters which were introduced by various animals became distracting vs unifying. The structure detracted from the plot in my opinion. It interrupted the flow of the story.
Overall the characters and story line were interesting and engaging. I think it was the structure that became distracting for me.
With the intertwining of characters it Mating for Life would be a fun book club book. Always fun to discuss the intertwining of lives.
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
We can't choose who we love
A delightfully charming novel about love in all its form. It is ultimately a hopeful novel with complex characters that the reader comes to care about. The novel is told through a variety of narrators, and I enjoyed watching how the various strands of the stories were woven together to create a complex, beautiful tapestry. It would make a fine book group book as it raises all sorts of questions about love and families and what makes a marriage work.
Bess W. (Marlton, NJ)
Mating for life?
Although this was a quick read I thought it was an interesting story. I loved how each character was developed--their strengths, weaknesses and qirks. Fiona, Ilsa, Liane and Helen, each searching for something. Their relationships with each other and the men in their lives is something many of us can relate to. I think this would be great for a book club as well as for a long day at the beach.
Cindy J. (Hastings, NY)
Mating for Life
This book examines relationships between mother - daughters, sisters, husbands, lovers, and friends and compares them to mating patterns of wildlife. I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it either. I felt like there were too many characters when I would have enjoyed a deeper development of a few of the characters and their relationships.
Laura P. (Atlanta, GA)
Mating for LIfe? Maybe
Mating for Life is something of an ironic title for this novel, since it's something none of its characters seem to do very well. And are there characters! Meet hippie folksinger mom Helen, her three daughters (all by different fathers, none of whom married mom), their spouses and lovers and kids, the guy who runs the marina and his current live-in honey (and why are they even part of this story?), the local agriculture expert, the illegitimate daughter of one of the husbands who lives in Vienna, and a random few friends and neighbors. This book contains too many people for the amount of character development the author is willing to invest. Too many characters, too many subplots - the book has a very scatter-shot feel. the vignettes at the beginning of each chapter on the mating habits of a variety of non-human animals was interesting, but increased the feeling that what one was likely to find in Mating for Life was anything but.
Caryl L. (Williamsburg, VA)
Mating for Life
A lovely book - the story of Mother, Helen, and her three daughters and their marital problems.
Helen has led a bohemian life; wild, opinionated, three children by three different men. She is contemplating marriage to a very traditional man and wonders if she can be happy and supportive in this role.
Fiona, the eldest daughter lives a very traditional life with her husband and two children. When her husband reveals a terrible secret he has been harboring all these years, Fiona feels her life falling apart. She must deal with this secret and with her own problems and secrets. She is fighting to keep her ordered life and marriage together.
Ilsa. middle child and artist, feels unhappy and unfulfilled. Her art is suffering and her husband is very busy with work and barely pays attention to her. She has two small children whom she must consider.
Liane, the youngest, is in love with a man who has an ex-wife and two children. She is not sure how she is going to deal with this situation and feels fearful about going ahead with this marriage.
Marissa Stapley has been able to, through her beautiful prose with great understanding, bring together a book that could have been depressing. This is very pleasant read.
Enjoyed This A Lot
For the first two chapters I found myself struggling a little bit to get into the book. For some reason, I could not quite keep straight who all of the different women were. However, there was something compelling about these realistic, less-than-perfect women that made me want to know what was going to happen. I think that the author captured well the mistakes people make as they search for happiness and fulfillment. This book might provide some good soul searching to people who think they are ready to leave a relationship or do something that would endanger one which they do not really want to lose.I particularly enjoyed one passage in which a daughter bemoans the fact that her mother is more like a girlfriend, as the mother joins in on a conversation about a short but passionate fling after a party. It brought a smile to my face; I think many daughters are overly critical of their mothers - as long as the mothers are alive. As a side note - I'm not sure that the introductory paragraphs about the mating habits of various animals ads anything to this book (and I am an animal lover.)