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Topic: Your feelings about The Mermaid Chair?

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Subject: Your feelings about The Mermaid Chair?
Date Posted: 12/17/2008 9:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 954
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I read The Secret Life of Bees and I absolutely love it, so I picked up The Mermaid Chair- unfortunately, I'm having mixed feelings as I go along, especially because I find I really like her husband (I'm not very far into it, I must admit)

It's the holidays and I don't really want anything depressing, in fact one of the main reasons I loved The Secret Life of Bees was how easy it was to feel good with that story. So, did it get you down? Make you feel liberated? Change your life? Just wondering =)

Also, if it is depressing, could you guys reccomend something to me a little more along the lines of her first novel?

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2006
Posts: 6,597
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Didn't like it as much as The Secret Life of Bees. The movie version with Kim Basinger was even "weirder."

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 11:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 954
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Kim Basinger as Jessie? I, um, don't really see it...

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 2:11 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,535
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I read the Mermaid Chair first, so maybe that colors my opinion.  I loved it.  The beginning was a little rough.  I thought it a bit too quirky.  But, then it all seemed to fall together and I enjoyed the story. 

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 7:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
Posts: 830
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The only thing I enjoyed about the Mermaid Chair was Kidd's descriptions about the coastal life of the setting.  Otherwise, the main character reminded me of a whiny kid who has everything and wants more.  Just out-there!  

I do know someone who liked the book, but she reminded me of the main character (I'm not saying that about any of you other posters; I don't know you at all). 

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 8:47 AM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2007
Posts: 15
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I, too, read the Mermaid Chair first and I absolutely loved it.  I loved the descriptions of the coast and the torment Jessie felt.  I have had the Secret Life Of Bees half finished on my bookshelf for quite some time and just can't seem to pick it back up to finish it.  I think I'll try to pick it up again this weekend.

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,535
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I think once you find out why the mother does what she does, the rest of it falls into place.  It seems a bit bizarre before that though.

Date Posted: 12/18/2008 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,563
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I thought the Mermaid Chair was alot like the Memory Keepers Daughter.  Could have been a great novel.  Instead I kept waiting for the reason I was reading the book.  Great characters, great plot ideas, boring story.   I just never felt the author captured my imagination.  All the characters actions were predictable and not really written in a imaginative or captivating way. 

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 1:22 AM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2005
Posts: 147
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I thought MermaidChair was okay, but not great.

You asked for a book that might be less depressing.  Maybe you have read this already, but I really enjoyed Billie Lett's "Honk and Holler Opening Soon" - quirky yet enjoyable.

I have been kinda into historical fiction for the last few years - so these books aren't like Secret Life of Bees, but I have enjoyed "Birth of Venus" , "Mistriss in the Art of Death" (think midevil CSI).  I also liked Case Histories - which is a mystery type book, but is really about the characters, my favorite type of book.  I also like Doomsday, book about the plague.  Not as depressing as it sounds, but like I said, I have been into historical fiction lately.


Date Posted: 12/19/2008 2:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 954
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Thanks for the great suggestions, Sheryl! I was going to suggest you one back that I just picked up a few weeks ago, but I can't for the life of me find it to give you the title. Something like 32 Teeth, it was about a doctor in ancient greece. What I've read about it is quite facinating.

I have Birth of Venus on my TBR pile, but I haven't even started it yet, same for Mistress of the Art of Death. I have the unedited proof I picked up somewhere, I've been holding off reading it until I get the original. I'll be sure to check out the others that you mentioned, I have to admit I liked The Secret Life of Bees as much for the historical aspect as much as the characters or the tone- it all melded together into an excelent book.

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 9:03 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
Posts: 626
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I was very dissapointed in The Mermaid Chair.  It was a complete thumbs down for me.  I adored The Secret Life of Bees. 

I am currently reading Good-Bye Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders.  A nice light read.  A bit inspirational too.  It is about 2 women whose families are hitting rock bottom financially and how they pulled themselves up.  I am only half way through so I don't know what the outcome is going to be (you can kindof guess) but I hope its positive and not some surprise downer.

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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That is one of my most disappointing books ever. I LOVED Bees, so I kept slogging through this one. What a waste. It was totally predictable, and trite. I felt like I had read this story a million times before. Pamela's remarks about pretty much cover it for me.

The coastal setting was good, but there are so many other books with that setting, that are so much better. I felt like that book was written on autopilot.

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
Posts: 9,780
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gnomie - ,
Date Posted: 12/19/2008 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2007
Posts: 782
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Another nodding in agreement here, I adored the Secret Life of Bees however The Mermaid chair was such a disappointment to me after reading the other book, which has a top place in my heart still to this day.

What book would I recommend? Well this last year three of the books I enjoyed the most were:

  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George (976 pages but wonderful!)
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hugs, Gnomie

Date Posted: 12/19/2008 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 5
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This will sound like a broken record, but I agree with most of the above posters....Secret Life was so good, yet Mermaid Chair such a disappointment.  I actually listened to it on audio. I kept thinking it would surely get better, but it never did.  It was frustrating!

I just finished The Penny: A Novel, by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Beford. It's a great light feel-good story.  Perfect for the holidays.




Date Posted: 12/19/2008 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,563
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I finished HONK AND HOLLER OPENING SOON last month and found it to be a really fine inspirational book.  I loved the Viet guy who kept trying things he didn't know and the loving old woman who taught him English lessons.  I loved that the characters had feelings I could relate to as part of my own life experience.  The kind of book you wouldn't mind reading a sequel or spin off.

Date Posted: 12/22/2008 12:44 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 344
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I was really frustrated with the Mermaid Chair - and thought at first I was the only one. Secret Life of Bees is accessible to so many different audiences; Mermaid Chair was kind of depressing in general, and I didn't feel as "welcome" reading it, somehow.  I blame that on not being in that period of life, and thought maybe if I'd read it when I was older (instead of late in college), I might have enjoyed it more.

Date Posted: 12/23/2008 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2007
Posts: 21,086
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it was okay...but i enjoyed the Secret Life of Bees much more

Date Posted: 12/24/2008 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/17/2007
Posts: 918
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ugh! disappointing!

Date Posted: 12/29/2008 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 699
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I agree with Jan, I really liked the descriptions of the coastal life.  I had never been to that part of the country and found it interesting.  I think it takes place in South Carolina.  Coincidentally, as I was reading it my sister called and invited me to a "spur of the moment" week in a beach house in North Carolina with our mother.  It was February and my mom, sister and I live in totally different parts of the country.  I asked my boss if I could have the time off to go (and my husband) and was amazed to find myself on a plane to the coast a few days later, while I was still reading the book!  It was unlike anything I had ever done.  The book was weak, but the mother-daugher relationship was fascinating to read about while spending time with my sister & mother, who I rarely see.  I think I ended up liking it more than I would have, just because of the situation. 


Can I add a related question?  Without any spoilers, please, how did you like the "Secret Life of Bees" movie?  I thought it was pretty well done.  But then I am well known for not remembering books months after reading them, so those of you with better memories may feel differently.