The Wanting Life

Mark Rader

Featuring one of the most unconventional love stories you’ll read this year, The Wanting Life is a compulsively readable drama about the toll secrets and sacrifice take on a family.

Set in Rome, Cape Cod, and Wisconsin over the course of the summer of 2009, and Rome during the spring of 1970, The Wanting Life tells the intertwined story of three members of the Novak family: Paul, a dying priest haunted by his past; Britta, his self-destructive sister and caretaker, who’s struggling to find meaning in a world without her beloved husband; and Maura, Britta’s daughter—a thirty-nine-year-old artist who’s facing a choice between her husband and two children, or the man she believes is her one, true love. 

Cover art by John A. Sargent III

Praise for The Wanting Life

"Mark Rader's THE WANTING LIFE combines the best of old-school storytelling—intricate psychology, respect for characters, and serious exploration of faith—with contemporary candor and eroticism. Deeply complex and compulsively readable, this multi-generational story interrogates desire, truth, and what it means to lead a full life, in ways that are eternally urgent."
Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men and Every Kind of Wanting

"Who deserves to love and be loved? Mark Rader's moving, immersive novel THE WANTING LIFE is a master class in the human heart, with achingly real characters whose stories reveal the mystery and power of great love, even (especially) when that love is just out of reach. Beautiful, suspenseful, and ultimately hopeful"
Siobhan Adcock, author of The Barter and The Completionist

"Mark Rader's devastating debut novel THE WANTING LIFE is as much about the losses that arrive with aging as it is about the power and necessity of memory. Every life is a love story, this book reminds us, and at every stage there's a chance for a different future. I loved it."
Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way and Visible Empire

"Through the intertwined stories of a dying priest full of regrets, his caretaker sister still mourning her late husband, and her adult daughter torn between her family and a new man in her life, Rader's poignant debut novel explores the emotional costs of seeking and sacrificing romantic love... An insightful and compassionate family drama about desire, love, and the courage it takes to live a full life."
Kirkus Reviews,

"The Wanting Life is a cross-generational novel focused on happiness, fulfillment, and love... a novel whose leads are unafraid to explore the complicated territory of human desire."
Foreward Reviews,

"There is an essential goodness at the core of Mark Rader’s wise, tender, and emotionally precise debut novel. In eloquent prose, Rader deftly illuminates three intertwined lives filled with longing, regret, desire, grace, and cautious hope – lives distinct yet poignantly familiar. I felt privileged to know their fears and secrets and to be in the hands of an author who explores them with such generosity and love."
Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

"All the lonely people, where do they all come from? In his wise and intimate debut, Mark Rader displays an uncanny understanding of the human heart in conflict with itself. At once a Roman idyll and family saga, The Wanting Life is a deeply compassionate cautionary tale of love and regret."
Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself