Friday, January 9, 2015

"Mating For Life" by Marissa Stapley

Free-spirited former folk singer Helen Sear raised her three daughters- with three different fathers- primarily on her own and largely by choice. Uninterested in traditional marriage, Helen is now in her sixties and has fallen in love with a man to whom marriage is important. She's torn- she doesn't want to give up the values that she has always stood for yet she doesn't want to lose this man.

Her eldest daughter Fiona is about as different from Helen as can be. She runs her household with military precision and is happily married with several children. When it is revealed to her that her husband has been harboring a large secret Fiona's carefully ordered life falls apart and she is forced to re-examine her life and how she chooses to live it.

Ilsa, an artist and a free spirit like her mom, is married and has two young children whom she adores. The problem is that she has discovered that marriage- and monogamy- are not a good fit for who she is and she feels her lifestyle slowly suffocating her.

Liane, Helen's youngest daughter, is dating someone whom she is madly in love with, but the new relationship is not without baggage. Her new boyfriend comes with an ex-wife and two children, none of whom come with an instruction manual, and none of whom are warming up to her presence in their lives.

Set in both Toronto and idyllic Muskoka, Mating for Life is a reflection on marriage, sisterhood, motherhood and loving someone for life.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was how realistic it was. The women in this book are far from perfect and it shows in every facet of the story, yet they are all women that I wished that I could know in real life. Their flaws are what made them so easy to relate to. These women, despite their age differences and the differences in their living situations, are all struggling to find themselves in some way, and that's something that I think that we can all relate to. I believe that we have all been lost at some period in time, wishing that there was someone to direct us down the correct pathway.

I did find that the story lost me at some parts. It wasn't that I didn't find it interesting, and I especially found myself captivated by Ilsa's story because it was so profoundly sad, but at times the plot wandered off in some unknown direction and I found myself less interested in the book for a while. At one point in particular a big chunk of time was just passed over completely and I think that it would have been helpful to have included that time in the book.

Mating for Life is an emotionally powerful debut that encouraged me to take stock of my own life and my views on the things that make me an individual. It was a carefully crafted story with some twists and turns that I didn't expect and I appreciated that in the end these strong women refused to bow to the pressures of society and instead made the decision to remain true to themselves. My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of the book.

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