Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall Reading Challenge 2014: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley #FRC2014

This fall, members of the Vise Library are going back to school by participating in a Fall Reading Challenge. Each of our courses has a required book to go along with it.  We have received copies of several books from publishers for honest reviews. We hope that you enjoy these reviews (and books)!

The book for our Guide to Women's Studies class is Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley.

About the book:

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.

I liked the format of this book.  Each chapter was from the view point of a different character.  You even had the viewpoint of some of the minor characters from the book.  You heard from the main characters in three different parts.  I think this helped you sympathize with what the character was going through.  Like in real life, if you do not know or experience exactly what that person is going through, then you do not have an accurate picture of the person's struggles or happiness.  Everyone has projections of what someone is going through, even the characters of this book have projections about other characters, but they are not accurate.  I loved that about Mating for Life.  You learned so much more than if the story was told from one point of view!

Anyways, let's get on to the bones of the book!  This story centers around Helen (a former folk singer) and her three daughters Liane, Ilsa and Fiona.  Helen was never one to be about commitment and because of this it has affected each of her daughters differently.  Fiona, who values truth and stability without drama, is about to find out something her husband has kept from her for awhile.  The order that she is accustomed to is no longer present.  She has to find a way to get it back, with or without her husband.  Isla who is on her second marriage is being tempted to not stay faithful in her marriage.  She is trying to figure out if she can not give in or live a lie.  Liane has finally met someone wonderful but she does not know what to do if the magic and happiness of her relationship are not there anymore.  She is letting that fear seep into her relationship and then in turn making it difficult to still have magic in it.  Helen is also struggling with the fact that she has found someone she wants to be with, but feels like marriage is just too much of a commitment.  She wants to just be happy about the fact that they are together.  I will not tell you how any of these relationships turn out (read or buy the book!), but I will tell you it is like real life: some work out with work and some can never be salvaged once the damage is done.

Each of the characters had their own unique voice.  Some of the stories were heartbreaking to read, but you learned something from each of them.  They were so well written that you really cared about what happened to them.  I liked that it felt realistic too.  Not everyone gets what they want out of life, but most people try.  This also showed that some of the worst things have the best outcomes.  This book showed that you should treasure and appreciate people and the bonds that you have with them.  Helen realizes some of the things that she failed to do as a parent, but at the time that they happened, she thought she was doing the right thing.  She never thought that her independence would come back to hurt her girls or herself.  Fiona learns that just because things are not perfect that her life is bad.  Isla learns to find her own voice again with her painting and to find what makes her happy.  Liane learns to just be happy in the moment and love what you have around you.  Those are all great lessons that most people probably learn at some point in your life.  The when is usually is what is different.  Is it too late to cherish someone or can you truly be happy with your life?  What makes one person happy does not necessarily mean it will make someone you know happy as well.   Marissa has a great book under her belt and I can't wait to see more from her!  What an awesome and thought provoking book!

Buy the book:

·        Amazon Paperback:
·        Amazon Kindle:

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 favorite 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.

Connect with the author:

·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:
·        Website:

If you want to find out more about the Fall Reading Challenge and the rest of our course schedule, click our student ID above!

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