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.
In this intriguing and heartbreaking debut novel, Helen Sear, a former flower child folk singer who has three grown daughters from three different men, has famously said she did not need marriage to be happy. Her choice to be more of a friend to her three daughters, instead of the mother figure they needed, has affected each of the girls differently. The oldest, Fiona, a married mother of three who rations out her anti-anxiety pills, is obsessed with being perfect and is increasingly happiest when her husband is away. Artist Ilsa, on her second marriage, has two children and fantasizes about of having an affair. And finally there is Liane, whose indecisiveness affects every aspect of her life. 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.