Monday, September 29, 2014

Mating For Life by Marissa Stapley

4 Star

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.

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Kathryn - 4 Star

After so many good reviews about this novel I don’t think I could possibly have read it and not found it just as engaging.  Because I could picture everything Stapley was writing about it took away some of that imagination thing that can make your mind wander off and allowed me to focus on the characters presented in the novel.  Usually I like to make up my own world when reading but I got a bit of a thrill knowing some of the places the author used.

Quite apart from the feeling of contentment I felt reading a novel set somewhere familiar-the women in Mating for Life slowly got inside my head.  I was prepared to relate to one or two of them and find the others harder to commiserate with but I actually took a piece of each of them and made them part of one experience. I think I may have melded them into one person.  With any family comes tricky relationships and when people are close they don’t always bring out the best in each other.  The fact that the mother and daughters had drifted apart made it the only way for them to come back together.  Helen was a most interesting character- full of life and vigour but it seemed that she made some personal choices in her life that affected her daughters’ feelings of security. As these choices came to light it made me appreciate her more- too often one becomes engrossed entirely in the lives of our children and, though her choices wouldn’t have always been mine, I found her fascinating to read about.  Each of the daughters was so unique I could see a novel centering round each of them as stand-alone books. They all had their demons and decisions to make and relationships to salvage-there was a lot of tension with each one and I often wanted to know more.

Overall though, despite the tension and tenuous threads holding the family together, the love for each other came through and made Mating for Life a novel with strong female voices that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for our review copy. All opinions are our own.

Connect with Marissa Stapley:
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