Mating for Life: Book summary and reviews of Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley

Mating for Life

By Marissa Stapley

Mating for Life
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2014,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Told from multiple points of view as the characters walk tightropes of tragedy, this intriguing and heartbreaking debut novel carefully illustrates the power that each of us has to define who we are and who we can become." - Publishers Weekly

"This novel does a fine job of exploring the complexities of modern relationships." - Booklist

"The women in Mating for Life are clever, honest, funny, and forever analytical as they stumble through the search for love. Each new chapter brings a wise and tender look at single life, dating rituals, and marital unease. This is one of the most charming novels I've read in years, and I loved every last page." - Jennifer Close, bestselling author of Girls in White Dresses

"Acute and richly moving, Mating for Life triumphantly reaffirms the power of female relationships." - Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers

"Heartwarming and insightful, Marissa Stapley's unmissable debut is a sensitive, timely and compassionate exploration of family, friendship, self-discovery and the issue perhaps more at the crux of modern womanhood than any other - the struggle to keep hold of who you are while letting love in."- Abigail Tarttelin, author of Golden Boy

"Stapley is an heir to the likes of Wolitzer and Atwood, with an eye that misses nothing in the way we love, hurt, leave, support and sabotage each other and ourselves. This is vital and vibrant writing born of true insight into the human heart." - Grace O'Connell, bestselling author of Magnified World

"Marissa Stapley searches through the layers women possess, how hard we work to hide the cracks, as we bury our secrets, pretend what's bad is good - and paper over the glaring flaws in our lives." - Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies

"Honest and tender, heartbreaking and irresistible, Marissa Stapley's Mating for Life is a gorgeous debut in which I saw myself, my sister, and every woman I adore. An absolute must read for every woman who has ever been swelled, or felled, by love." - Tish Cohen, bestselling author of The Truth About Delilah Blue

"Mating for Life is an immensely readable novel, with smart, engaging characters who come to life on the page - the sort of characters you miss long after you've put the book down. You will see yourself in these women." - Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Forever, Interrupted

"I fell in love with the entire cast of characters Stapley has created, whose stories weave together beautifully and whose voices are so genuine, flawed and unique. They made me laugh, curse out loud and cry! This is an impressive, ambitious debut novel about love, forgiveness and acceptance which will undoubtedly warm your heart." - Hannah Tunnicliffe, author of The Colour of Tea

"I found myself slipping away at every spare moment to turn the next page. Marissa Stapley has created an interconnected story of unique, believable, relatable women. I absolutely loved this book." - Chantel Guertin, bestselling author of Stuck in Downward Dog

The information about Mating for Life shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Connie H. (Evanston, IL)
Finding Their Own Way
Helen, capable and independent, and her three adult daughters meet every summer at their lake house. Each must do some soul searching regarding their romantic relationship. Warm and insightful, their stories are told in chapters that are almost complete unto themselves, until they come together determining what really matters in each of their lives and what mating for life means to them. Stapley begins each chapter with information about the mating habits of a species which is reflected in some way in the lives of her characters, who are entertaining, funny and perceptive.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Toni K. (Memphis, TN)
Mating for Life
It took me a while to get into this book. When that happens I just put it aside and begin again. I am so glad I did. I loved this book with it's many characters and all the problems that everyone has, including resolutions that are not always blue sky but reality. Don't miss this one!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Gretchen M. (Martinsburg, WV)
A good read
If you like a good book about mothers and daughters trying to live as responsible adults after a crazy childhood with a free spirited mother who didn't live by traditional guidelines, then you'll enjoy this book. It took me awhile to really get into it but once I did I wanted to find out how each daughter turned out. I especially liked the way the author wrote - she didn't spell everything out for the reader. You have to read between the lines and make connections for yourself.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Lee W. (Knoxville, TN)
Mating for life
I found this book delightful. It is full of strong, yet very real female characters. I enjoyed the paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter describing different animal mating habits. Those, to me, were a great tie back to the title of the book. I was fully drawn into the lives of the characters and was rooting for their problems to be resolved. The author was able to portray many different personalities smoothly and clearly. This book was a fun, engrossing story. I look forward to reading more by this author!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Sue H. (Wooster, OH)
Great summer read
I wasn't sure I was in the mood for a "romancy" book, so I began Mating for Life with some skepticism but the well-developed characters soon won me over and I spent a warm and lovely day of my beach vacation in their company. There were enough plot twists to keep me interested and I particularly enjoyed the opening epigraphs of each chapter. A great summer book. I will look for more from this author.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Gail G. (Northbrook, IL)
Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley
Does the use of the word "mating" in the title of the book tried to get people to relate to their animal-like behavior and negotiate that response to a contemporary interpretation of a "human" response.

I had no preconceived idea of animal instinct when I began to read the book but I did find characters in the book lacking in a number of ways: lack of responsibility for their weak behavior with the important people in their life and the shallowness of their character. But later when I read further into the story I began to feel that a turn-around was beginning to take place in character development by a change in their outlook.They began to allow themselves to think about interactions with family relationships and begin to have more positive and honest feed-back in these relationships as well as to understand their responsibilities as an adult.

I liked the idea of an introductory paragraph to each chapter in which an animal's behavior is tied to the character(s) entering the story at that point and their resemblance to the animal's description in the opening paragraph. This is a good idea carrier and the reader is sure to get the message. I also think the animals' introduction is part of the reason for the word "mating" in the title. This vehicle describes characters' psychology in animal terms which is a turn-about from their original orientation. It's as if they don't have a choice in their actions because they were brought up that way and it gives us a better understanding of their behavior--is it also possible that mating is more of an important meaning because people need the touch of others more than they need a slip of paper (legal contract). In the end they become true to their proclivities and responsible in an honest and mature way to their lifes' problems and experiences. That understanding is reached at novel's end.

I progressed from feeling a distaste of the characters and their behavior to a full acceptance of their final emotional state Book is certainly worthwhile reading, especially to see how the character evolution takes place. My eyes were opened wider to see how the characters fulfilled the reality of their transformation.

...54 more reader reviews

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Marissa Stapley is a writer and former magazine editor who contributes to Elle, The Globe and Mail, and The National Post, among others. She also teaches writing at the University of Toronto and editing at Centennial College. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two young children.

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