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Mating for Life

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  141 reviews
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, He
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Washington Square Press (first published June 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads giveawayss
"One of the most heartwarming and charming novels I've read in 2014 is "Mating for Life" by Marissa Stapley which I won from Goodreads Giveaways. As the story opens Liane, the youngest daughter of former folksinger Helen Sear is vacationing at the family cottage. Her plan is to finish her thesis, to reflect on the stability of her relationship with the staid and self-centered son of the dean, and to confront a tragedy in her past that threatens her future happiness. But like her mother and siste ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mating for Life is a story about three sisters and their mother, their relationships with each other, and their successes and failures in finding a mate with whom to share their life. By interweaving the events of their lives and alternating the narrative among the main characters, Stapley keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace, which will make you want to keep reading the book without putting it down.

While the stories and characters are interesting in themselves, Stapley's real success is
Judy Fogarty
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll call Mating for Life a Must Read for Life. I was moved by this rich, multi-layered story of relationships -- particularly those of Helen, an aging, always independent, always single 1960s rock singer and her three daughters. Fiona, Ilsa, and Liane had different fathers, whom they did not know. Their relationships with each other, their mother, and their husbands (or in Liane's case, her lover) are fraught with challenges and decisions to be made -- to leave, to strike out on one's own, to f ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
I received an advance review copy of this book.

Mating for Life is something of an ironic title for this novel, since it's something none of its characters seem to do very well. And are there characters! Meet hippie folksinger mom Helen, her three daughters (all by different fathers, none of whom married mom), their spouses and lovers and kids, the guy who runs the marina and his current live-in honey (and why are they even part of this story?), the local agriculture expert, the illegitimate daug
Bonnie Brody
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
This novel is told from different perspectives, primarily those of Helen and her adult daughters. Helen was a famous folk singer in the 1970's and she was known for her fairly strident feminist perspective that women did not need men. She herself had three daughters, each from a different father. She raised them all by herself without any men in the picture.

The oldest daughter, Fiona, strives for perfection. She is married to Tim who is a very ethical man. However, he has a secret and when it co
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I received this book as the result of a FirstReads giveaway.

This is a wonderful book that delves into the lives of several sisters and their mother.(Their romantic lives that is.) It isn't your average romance which is why I labeled this book as good old fiction!

The characters are believable, coming from a large family myself, I recognize the dynamics within the female sibling/parental roles. Stapley is able to deliver them to you the same way that you would perceive them in real life. (There is
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley in exchange for an honest review.

This book covers the lives of Helen Sear who was a former folk singer and a feminist, who raised three daughters on her own. Each of Helen's daughters has a different father and Helen has never believed in monogamy, even now that she's met someone who wants to marry her. Although she is afraid he won't understand why she refuses to get married she's afraid to be considered a sell-out if she does. Helen's thr
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chick-lit
This book is like sitting down and having a great conversation with a lifelong girlfriend. It encompasses all parts of women’s lives and their relationships. This novel is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry, and have every other emotion in between. I loved it because of the relationships and the emotions, its characters and their stories. I felt like the author made me an active part of the story, not someone who was watching the action from a distance. I loved that the chapters wove the diffe ...more
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
The start of this book was good and I thought I was really going to enjoy reading it. Sadly, I got about half way and put the book down. I thought about going back to the book and starting reading it again but realized that I had no real interest in reading anymore. The three sisters and their mother, Helen did not captivate me with their lives. The only one that kind of did was Liane. I found the rest of them drab. Plus, instead of letting me savor the three sister's stories, the author felt th ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ilsa says p. 253: Here's the thing about love: It can last, but you have to be careful with it. You have to treat it like it's your most precious possession, you have to never, ever take it, or the person you love for granted. Ever. Even just doing it once could spell the beginning of the end. Resentment, it's love's worst enemy. ... Don't forget that and you will be fine...
And also, don't be afraid...even if something doesn't work, maybe you don't have to let it scar you. Maybe it can be someth
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I hated this book at first... maybe even for the first 50-60%. It bummed me out and left me feeling very melancholy in between readings. To read about other people’s regrets or mistakes.... I hate that. I love romance. I believe in love. And I thought based on how this book started, that this book went against love and romance. But it doesn’t. It just showcases how special love can be, how hard it is to find and how much you have to work at keeping it.
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley is a compelling and thought-provoking novel about family, love and relationships. Written from numerous perspectives, each character offers unique insight into the different relationships in their lives and their own experiences with love, friends and family. Each of the women is at a romantic crossroads that challenges their long held beliefs about love and lead to some very unexpected decisions that not only impact their love life but also their rel
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Mating For Life is an ambitious exploration of love, relationships and the search for happiness by debut author Marissa Stapley.

The narrative unfolds from multiple perspectives, primarily those of Helen and her three adult daughter's, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona, who are all variously struggling with romantic entanglements. Helen, a former wild child who essentially raised her daughters, fathered by three different men, on her own, is in her mid sixties and after years of eschewing tradition is wary o
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
This was an emotionally charged read that is very bit intended for woman, sisters, mothers, daughters and girls everywhere.

It is about relationships in all forms and matters of life. This isn't just a love story but a life story.

While I admired this read greatly I can't say I fell in love with it. It moved from point of view, person to person way too much for my taste and I never really got that in depth feel for the characters because of it.

I never felt their betrayal, their hopes, or their hea
Tara - Running 'n' Reading
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Each of the sisters in this pleasurable debut novel has, in one way or another, attempted to distance themselves from their self-described "feminist," " former flower-child" mother, whom they only refer to by her first name, Helen. The novel begins from the perspective of Liane, the youngest of the three, during a stay at a secluded family cabin in an attempt to jumpstart her motivation to complete a graduate thesis.

In this chapter, and subsequent chapters, readers learn more and more about the
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2014
"Mating for Life" is the story of Helen, a woman who has always lived life on her own terms and has tried to pass that onto her three daughters. Now Helen is trying to figure out whether her terms are the right ones or if her terms need to change as she's gotten older. The story also focuses on Helen's three daughters: Liane, Ilsa, and Fiona. Each of these now women are dealing with very different circumstances and are trying to figure out their own ways forward. At its core, this book is really ...more
This book is everything the advanced praise said it was.
Not my typical read, I got an advance copy in May and finally started reading it yesterday. It had me from the very first page. I'm sure it helped that this was one of those books that just clicked with some inexplicable place in me.
I can't do this book justice with a review, honestly. Each of the characters felt so vivid and real to me it was like they were friends. It felt like the book itself was my friend (and I will admit, there were
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is encompasses the relationships of five women; Helen, a former hippie and folk singer, her three daughters, and a snippet of Myra, a peripheral character who offers a unique voice. Each chapter begins with facts regarding mating rituals of a particular animal species. The animal is then somehow woven into the chapter in a seamless manner but the paragraph is allegorical to one of the character's life moment. Each woman is trying to figure out their relationships; old or new, staid out ...more
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author, Marissa Stapley was at the Port Carling Library last night. A friend wanted to attend the presentation, so I picked up her book in the early afternoon and started reading it. Much to my surprise I couldn't put it down. Although I didn't finish reading it until today, I was able to chat with Marissa and pass on my enjoyment her book was giving me. She shared a little about the process of writing this book which helped explain why the 3 sisters and their single, bohemian mom all had su ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At times heartbreaking, achingly personal, yet still hopeful, Mating for Life brought to life the intricate relationships between sisters (Fiona, Ilsa and Liane), family (mom Helen) and the men in their lives. The story mainly focuses on the love lives of the sisters and their mother Helen; with supporting stories from Myra and Jane.

Mating for Life is not just about love though. The identity of each woman is challenged as she comes to accept who she is and what she wants both for herself and fr
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-read
I was the recipient of this novel through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. Thank you Goodreads and Simon and Schuster Canada!

And the award for most unanticipated great read of the year goes to...

Although the blurb piqued my interest, I honestly did not expect this novel to touch me as much as it did. This here is a beautiful story.

The praise Stapley has been receiving for this novel is very well-deserved. As a young woman in her early 20s, I was encouraged to reflect on myself, and, genera
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
To paraphrase Tolstoy's opening in Anna Karenina, happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family suffers in its own way. In Mating for Life, Marisa Stapley introduce an extended family with multiple dysfunctional characteristics. Helen, the matriarch, has always been a free spirit - a woman who loved men, but didn't care to marry them. Thus, each of her three daughters had a different father - none of whom are currently in the picture at all. Now, as adults, each of the girls is struggli ...more
It took me a long time to read this book. This is usually an indication that I am not enjoying it and it's become a chore to read. In this case, there were other factors as well. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I found the characters to be selfish, not sure if this was what the author was trying to get across, but I don't think so. My favourite character was actually Myra, who only makes a brief appearance in this novel. I'm not sure why her story was even in the book. I did like that the auth ...more
Amanpreet Dhami
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mating for Life is a novel about human relationships, both their fragility and strength. The family of three sisters and their mother Helen go through many different trials in their lives. Each woman faces her own personal dramas in a relationship, but they are able to endure it all with the power and strength of each other. This book made me laugh, cry and reflect on the relationships in my own life, revealing Stapley's amazing ability to capture the essence of human emotion and interaction. A ...more
Karen Forsyth
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A surprisingly interesting book.
I felt like the characters in the book were very real,and I could relate to them.
The book is very well written,and I could visualize the cottage settings,and the book held my interest right from the start.
The little extras about the mating animals at the start of each chapter was interesting.
I do a lot of wildlife photography,and found some of the mating rituals very informative,and will have to keep an eye out for these.
Thank you for the chance to read this book
Heather Howard
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I absolutely LOVED this book. While normally I'm not crazy about books that switch back and forth between stories of different characters, Marissa Stapley did an amazing job blending the stories and connecting the characters.
I laugh, I cried, and more importantly I felt that I could relate to each of the women in this book on some level. Their desire and longing and unfulfilled feelings really hit home for me.
I absolutely recommend this book, especially to those in relationships or considering g
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-s-fiction
This is the perfect summer book for those looking for something with more depth than your average Meg Cabot or Janet Evanovich paperback. In efficient, graceful strokes, Stapley creates a world in which a mother and her three grown daughters all struggle humbly towards happiness, question their need for relationships with men and each other, and by the end eke out some kind of lasting, believable satisfaction. With beautiful language, excellent story structure, and just the right balance of hear ...more
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am a fantasy genre kind of girl, so I was skeptical about reading a book that was so far off from my norm. I am so very glad I did. Mating for Life has me aching for more. The characters in this story are so brilliantly created. I laughed, and cried with them. It made me miss my own sister and mother. Very rarely to I give a book 5 stars, especially one out of my genre. But this is a must read! Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Marilyn Stanley
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book free from Goodreads First reads.

WOW - what an excellent book. At times I laughed and at times I cried - sometimes the book was so serious, other times the laughter was amazing. It is hard to believe that three sisters could have such a totally different outlook on life than their mother.

I loved this book - from start to finish - I highly recommend it.
Denise Berube
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I really adored this book. The story itself was deeply moving and touching, with characters that were easy to connect with and displayed immense realism. Marissa Stapley's ability to weave all the characters together made the shift of each of their lives from chapter to chapter a seamless transition and an effortless enjoyable read. ...more
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Marissa Stapley is the Globe and Mail bestselling author of the novels Mating for Life, Things to Do When It's Raining and The Last Resort. Her fiction has been published around the world and her journalism has appeared in magazines and newspapers across North America. She has taught creative writing and editing at the University of Toronto and Centennial College, and still mentors/teaches a small ...more

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