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February 5, 2018

Things To Do When It’s Raining, by Marissa Stapley

I didn’t know Marissa Stapley when I read her debut novel Mating For Love four years ago, and loved its bookishness, intelligence, and what a pleasure it was to read it. In the years since I’ve come to admire her criticism, her championing of commercial fiction and its writers, and her feminist take on the CanLit community. And I’ve also come to benefit from her community directly, with her support of my own book when it came out last year, and with her friendship. Which means that I’ve been especially looking forward to her second book, Things to Do When It’s Raining, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally here. I read an advanced copy back in January, and I devoured it in a day.

It begins with Mae Summers, whose fiancé has just disappeared along with all of the money people had invested in their business, and who turns out not to be who he said he was. Her life in pieces, Mae decides to go home again, back to the inn in the 1000 Islands where she was raised by her grandparents after her mother’s tragic death. But all is not well at home either—a secret hidden in Mae’s grandparents’ past has returned to the surface and disturbed their relationship, plus Mae’s old flame and first love is back in town, right at the moment when she’s most raw and shaken.

Obviously, with a set-up this riddled with landmines, this is going to be a book with twists and turns, plus an impromptu journey to Niagara Falls. The plot had me fixed, but I was especially in love with Marissa’s prose, her words and sentences, not to mention the amount of wisdom contained within. About life, and about love—this is a story that’s so rich. The advanced copy I read in January didn’t come with the reader’s guide contained in the final book, in which Marissa explains that the story was inspired by one in her own family history, but when I read this it illuminated the story for me, its meaningfulness and resonance. Although part of it too was that it’s also written by a wonderful writer. And I particularly loved the book’s structure, the chapters moving between different characters’ points of view, but each one preceded by an item from the list that gives the novel its title. “Things to do when it’s raining,” written by Mae’s late mother in her youth, so that her voice infuses the novel like the presence of a ghost, so that we know full well what the other characters are missing. And the subtle ways these items tie into each chapter: “Build something. There are tools and scrap wood in the shed. And yes, bandages and ice in the kitchen, in case you accidentally hammer your finger.”

I received a finished copy of Things to Do When It’s Raining, but I’m fully intending to buy one too, which means I’ve an extra now for giveaway. Leave a comment on this post and let me know your favourite thing to do when it’s raining, and I will randomly choose a winner. Canadians only please, for postal reasons. And happy book birthday, Marissa!

UPDATE: Thanks for the comments, everyone! The winner has been chosen via Random Number Generator (i.e. very scientific…)

36 thoughts on “Things To Do When It’s Raining, by Marissa Stapley”

  1. Jilanna says:

    Swimming. I love how warm the water feels and I’m always mesmerized by the raindrops sinking and bouncing back up again off the water’s surface.

    Camping. Every summer we spend the August long weekend camping in the backyard of our friends’ parents home. They live near the beach and when the weather is fine it’s magnificent. When the weather isn’t fine, we all crowd into their covered screen porch to play games, knit and catch up on a year’s worth of stories.

    1. Jilanna says:

      I’m anxious to read this book, by the way. I read Mating for Life at your recommendation and love the way she told that story (those stories).

    2. Kerry says:

      Swimming in the rain is an excellent suggestion! I think the novel recommends it too…

  2. Curling up near a window, with a dog and a blanket, a book and a notebook. Something about the rain makes me feel creative.

    1. Kerry says:

      That sounds perfect!

  3. Lara Maynard says:

    Reading, of course. Made extra cozy with blankets and a cat. And comfy clothes, wool socks, pillows, snacks, tea. Rainy day luxury.

    1. Kerry says:

      Now I am longing for rain… Although it would be frozen here, so I’ll wait on it.

  4. Patricia McCowan says:

    Sitting on our front porch with either a cup of tea or a glass of wine (depending on time of day) and a book, listening to cars swoosh by (and thus feeling smug because I’m not moving). 😉

    1. Kerry says:

      Oh, porches… Makes me excited for spring.

  5. Cara Anders says:

    Reading on the front porch, of course!

    1. Kerry says:


  6. Put on my rain pants and my gore-tex jacket, grab my binoculars and head out into the field just so I can be the first to post my sightings on eBird and the world will know me as a bad-ass birder! JOKES. That’s what I always wish I were doing, but really I’m sitting on my couch under a blanket willing the rain to stop so that I can stop eating bonbons and actually get off the couch.

    1. Kerry says:

      I just love couches so much.

  7. Naomi says:

    Lying awake in the tent at night. Even better if there is a thunder storm. 🙂

    1. Kerry says:

      See, for me “things to do when it’s raining” includes…PACK UP THE CAMPSITE AND GO HOME.

  8. Dora Dueck says:

    Read, of course, though rain may put me in the mood to bake something too. Something like cinnamon buns or bread.

    1. Kerry says:

      Rainy day baking is a very good thing!

  9. Nancy says:

    Stand in the garage…where it’s dry…and smell the wet concrete. Nothing smells like it and it’s magic. Appears from the combination of place and weather. Out of nowhere. And I love it.

    But I’m not Canadian…so I’m just going to keep loving the smell of rain on concrete. This week in Florida, where I’ve just buried my best friend and smelled the wet pavement while I helped her husband go thru boxes in the garage while we stayed dry…from the rain at least. And the next time when I’m home in Texas…where there is oh so much concrete, and big big rain.

    Glad I found you. I’ll find my own way to a copy of this tome.

    1. Kerry says:

      It’s just out in the USA too! It’s a lovely book. Thank you for the comment, and I am sorry about your friend. What a moment you conjure here. xo

  10. Audrey Woodbeck says:

    When it’s raining in the daytime at the cottage there’s nothing better than sitting in my rocking chair in the screen room. Here I delight in listening to the rain falling, while reading and knitting. Also a good time to sneak in a cup of tea and a treat. Even a short nap happens when all is peaceful.

    1. Kerry says:

      That sounds delightful!

  11. Steph says:

    I love rain. I remember coming out of a community theatre after a performance I was in, in high school, and it was pouring and I went out in the street and very exuberantly and romantically, or so I thought, twirled around and got soaked. I just love when the weather is actually doing something. I love going for a walk in the rain, especially when it starts raining harder and harder. For some reason, it makes me laugh.

    1. Kerry says:

      Rain just does its thing, doesn’t it. I think there is a part in the novel where she writes that it’s a sign that we’re not meant to control it all.

  12. This book sounds great! I would love a copy to review on my blog (I live in Quebec.)

    On rainy days, I love to cuddle with my lab, Penny, and read.

    1. Kerry says:

      Yay! Thanks for this.

  13. Laura says:

    This book does sound great! On rainy days now, I like curling up with a book or knitting drinking a cup of tea, but just lately I remember as a teenager going puddle jumping in the rain with my friends during lunch hour or when I was a child racing back and forth across the yard with my brother, “getting soaked to the bone”, to quote my mom. It makes me think I should go out and enjoy rain more.

    1. Kerry says:

      I can’t remember the last time I puddle jumped—thanks for the reminder.

  14. penny McDougall -Di Giovanni says:

    Baking with the kids or reading.

    1. Kerry says:

      That sounds like a nice way to spend an afternoon…

  15. Jennifer Paquette says:

    It’s not original, but I love to read on rainy days. I have a lovely spot next to the window in my home library. It also works nicely on snowy days too.

    1. Kerry says:

      Beats going outside!

  16. Lynn says:

    Weeding in my garden. Actually, just being in my garden. (P.S. Thanks so much for the chance!)

    1. Kerry says:

      You’re welcome!

  17. Ali O says:

    This books sounds great. I love when novels take place in cities I’ve visited or have lived in. It’s kind of silly, but a feel more connected to the story.

    What I love doing in the rain: reading, tea drinking, and cookie baking. However, I have this one fond memory of dancing in the rain during my childhood. We had a draught during one summer and then finally the sky darkened and we had a rainstorm. My mom made us put on our bathing suits and go outside to dance in the rain. It was such a memorable moment, that every summer rainstorm brings me back to that time of dancing in the rain.

    1. Kerry says:


  18. Franky says:

    Walking in the rain … when it’s warm especially, but even when it’s not … I have a waterproof hat from the Tyhee fishing club in BC (that makes my head sweat), & of course a raincoat (sometimes)
    I walk in a forest, so I get to hear the rain in the leaves of the trees
    & if it is a spring walk, I look for morels

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