I first got hooked on the TV show Married at First Sight back in 2015. As a hopeless romantic, how could I not watch these all-inclusive blind-dates unfold, hoping that against all the odds the couples found their happy ending?
So when none of the marriages did end up a Happy Ever After, it was inevitable that my author’s imagination was going to start dreaming up its own marriage at first sight story, which eventually became my new novel, Take A Chance On Me.
Part of the planning and plotting for this book included delving into why people decide to marry a stranger. In our 21stcentury, Western culture, most of us would hope and expect that we get married for love. But, as any historical romance fan knows, up until relatively recently a ‘love match’ was a brilliant bonus, but by no means a prerequisite for a wedding.
For thousands of years, people have got married for all sorts of reasons – security and protection, money and status, at their family’s insistence, for convenience or companionship, pregnancy, lust…
When we think about it, those reasons aren’t unheard of today.
But somewhere over time emerged this narrative that everyone (or, dare I say it, every woman) needs a Mr Right in order to have their Happy Ending, and along with that expectation can sometimes come the kind of pressure that has thousands of people applying to ditch the fairly modern notion of a love-match for the ultra-modern wisdom of science and not only marry a stranger, but do it in front of millions of people on TV.
So, my meanderings through all things marriage resulted in a story that explores all sorts of reasons for marriage, and what might prompt a man and a woman to risk everything on a blind-date wedding.
Perhaps more importantly, all this pondering left me certain that when it comes to a Happy Ever After, perhaps we need a few more options. Getting married is, thank goodness, rarely necessary for a woman’s security or status these days – but does society still imply that it is necessary for their success?
Does our culture still promote the story that little girls (and grown up ones) are incomplete until they find their prince (or princess)?
I’ve had friends who resisted the relentless pressure to find a life-partner, instead choosing a happy ending that included falling in love with a career, investing in deep-spirited friendships, or embracing the freedom to please themselves. But they’ve told me how this required fighting off lifelong assumptions about finding The One, instead finding the courage to create a future of their own invention.
I love being married. I’m so grateful to have found a man who is right for me. But I don’t want my children to believe this is their only option for happiness. That as their mother I will be holding my breath like Mrs Bennet until they’re all married off.
Take A Chance On Me is about marrying a stranger. It’s also about staying married to the one you chose to love. There’s five fabulous sisters, some dubious science and a ridiculous bet. It’s also about how when we take a chance on ourselves, we might end up with a Happy Ending that’s completely unexpected.