Maine meets Girls in White Dresses in this Globe and Mail bestseller about three very different sisters, their feminist mother, and what it takes to love someone—whether it be family, friends, or spouses—for life.
Former folk singer Helen Sear was a feminist wild child, raising three daughters, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona (each by different fathers) 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’s fearful of losing him, she’s equally afraid she’ll betray everything she’s ever stood for if she goes through with it.
Her youngest daughter, Liane, is in the heady early days of a relationship with the love of her life. But he has an ex-wife and two daughters—and her new role as “step-something” doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Ilsa, an artist, is fervently hoping her second marriage will stick. Yet her world feels like it is slowly shrinking, 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 discovers her husband has been harboring a huge secret, which makes her own past harder to ignore. To regain stability, she must face some hard truths, and alter her impossibly high expectations.
Through these alternating perspectives, and with pitch-perfect honesty and heartwarming humor, Stapley explores sex, marriage, and how the many roles that women play are often at odds with each other. Ultimately a celebration of the redemptive power of love in all its forms, Mating for Life is a stunning, memorable debut.
"This novel does a fine job of exploring the complexities of modern relationships.”
"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."
“Heartbreaking and strikingly honest. Stapley challenges entrenched ideas of what it means to be a wife and mother, explores how modern women often struggle to maintain their own identities in the face of societal expectations, [and] excels at bringing the reader into the lives of these women.”
"I felt like I was sitting on the dock at a cottage, eavesdropping on the neighbors. Mating for Life is like overhearing all the juiciest family drama—without any fear of hearing your own name. 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."
"An addictive, enthralling read, full of authentic, hopeful characters, each on a quest for their own version of true love."
“The pages fly swiftly as each woman’s individual drama unfolds.”
"An absolute feat of storytelling, Mating For Life not only features sisters, friends, mothers and confidants – it feels like one itself; a living, whispering, shouting, beauty of a book that bypasses easy answers and cracks open the deepest, most contradictory longings in all of us. 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."
“[An] intriguing and heartbreaking debut novel…Told from multiple points of view as the characters walk tightropes of tragedy, the novel carefully illustrates the power that each of us has to define who we are and who we can become.”
"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."
“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.”
"An absorbing and entertaining meditation on romantic love, but, even more so, on the nature of motherhood and sisterhood."
"Honest and tender, heartbreaking and irresistible. An absolute must read for every woman who has ever been swelled, or felled, by love."