I bought this book for two reasons: 1) I loved Sue Monk Kidd's novel "The Secret Life of Bees" and couldn't wait to read what else she had written and 2) because ever since I was a little girl I've had a love affair with anything mermaid related.
I have to say, I was sorely disappointed, not only did I feel that the book did not match up to the great writing from her previous work, I felt the story itself was awful. I had no patience or interest with the main character and found her to be annoying and irritating. Instead of finding a great story about a woman finding herself I felt it was about a weak woman making all the wrong choices and not caring about anyone or anything in her path. Definitely not the kind of woman I would want to be friends with.
I also expected more history in relation to the Mermaid Chair that gives the novel it's name. All in all, I thought it was a weak attempt at matching "The Secret Life of Bees". If you want to read a good book, save your time, and pick up "The Secret Life of Bees" instead.
I had difficulty getting drawn into this story because the author does little to explain the characters' motivations for their actions, which are seemingly inexplicable until the end of the book. The main character, who is married to a good man and has a daughter, falls for another man who is a monk at the church where her mother works. By the time the author gives insight into the cause of her adulterous feelings, one has already begun to dislike the main character. The mother's violent acts of self-mutilation are incomprehensible since the author keeps the cause of her pain a secret until the end of the book. Even the father's mysterious death is not explained until the last few chapters. This book was frustrating because the author does not disclose anything to make you care about these characters until the final moments of the story.
This book was a huge disappointment to me. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was so wonderful and even magical in some ways. I found it very hard to care about Jessie the main character. She seems to have a great husband but she has decided that she isn't happy anymore. She feels the she needs to get away from her husband and be on her own. Jessie begins having an affair with a monk, who had not yet taken his final vows. I just found this entire book a little bit disturbing.
The author's first novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was wonderful and had a magical quality that has stayed in my mind for weeks. THE MERMAID CHAIR left me feeling empty.
This book was "OK" and admittedly had a lot to live up to after "The Secret Life of Bees". It took me a long time to read through this book because I just wasn't that interested in it. Around the middle, I speed up and finished it and it was allright. Certainly not the best book I've read, but adequate I guess.
Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair is the soulful tale of Jessie Sullivan, a middle-aged woman whose stifled dreams and desires take shape during an extended stay on Egret Island, where she is caring for her troubled mother, Nelle. Like Kidd's stunning debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, her highly anticipated follow up evokes the same magical sense of whimsy and poignancy.
While Kidd places an obvious importance on the role of mysticism and legend in this tale, including the mysterious mermaid's chair at the center of the island's history, the relationships between characters is what gives this novel its true weight. Once she returns to her childhood home, Jessie is forced to confront not only her relationship with her estranged mother, but her other emotional ties as well. After decades of marriage to Hugh, her practical yet conventional husband, Jessie starts to question whether she is craving an independence she never had the chance to experience. After she meets Brother Thomas, a handsome monk who has yet to take his final vows, Jessie is forced to decide whether passion can coexist with comfort, or if the two are mutually exclusive. As her soul begins to reawaken, Jessie must also confront the circumstances of her father's death, a tragedy that continues to haunt Jessie and Nelle over thirty years later.
This was a very interesting book. Interesting in the sense as to where it took me. I did not like the Protagonist, Jessie. I thought the idea of her going to the island to tend to her mother and falling immediately in love with Brother Thomas was sinful and hateful and so totally not real life. But then, with about 100 pages left in the book, I was enlightened and it made more sense. I wont give away the ending but it was unexpected. I was totally down a different path in my mind so the ending was surprising. I am not sure I would agree with the ending. I think in real life the husband (Hugh) would have left her (Jessie). I honestly skimmed thru some of the mermaid, spiritual stuff. In some ways, its almost unnecessary. However, I guess it gave the book more color. The rating for this book improved after I finished it.
This was an excellent but melancholy love story about what a woman wants, the truth of life, and what she really has. I appreciate books that are real and that don't try to make everything picture perfect. I liked this book better than Sue monk Kidd's other novel, The Secret Life of Bees. It was difficult to put down!
Lyn - reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 3
I loved The Secret Life of Bees and could not wait to read The Mermaid Chair but sadly it was a major disappointment. The writing was stale, predictable and the story just dragged. Unlike, The Secret Life of Bees, the characters in The Mermaid Chair never came alive to me. So if you are considering this book look for another.
A truly well-written story detailing the many paths a marriage can take, and how we got there to begin with..... This was especially well narrated with a Southern accent to match the locale of the story. Two thumbs up!
Stinker! Secret Life of Bees was FABULOUS, this was a massive dud. I heard that the author is a Chrisitan, but somewhere along the lines decided to look for something else, her "inner goddess". She may have found that, but it took away her writing ability.
Sheila M. (Page5) reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 2
I finished it because I read it as part of a book club. The author did a great job creating a self-centered, shallow character (Jessie) for which I had absolutely no sympathy or empathy for. Couple that with some completely absurd and ridiculously bogus legends and plants and, well . . . you get the idea. I also believe the author had her head in the thesaurus too often with descriptions like âsoup skimâ to describe a foggy day.
Another great (fictional) read by Sue Monk Kidd! The story is told in the first person and Kidd's creative writing draws you in...I felt like I was Jesse (the woman the story is about). The message is about women finding and accepting themselves before they can love others :)
"The Mermaid Chair" is by the same author who wrote "The Secret Life of Bees". I was really excited when I picked up "The Mermaid Chair" because I liked "The Secret Life of Bees" so much. However, I was really disappointed.
While "The Secret Life of Bees" really appealed to me, I just could not get into the story of "The Mermaid Chair". Perhaps because I absolutely could not identify in any way with the main character. Jessie is a middle-aged woman who is unsatisfied with her life. But she's not willing to take any responsibility for her actions, nor is she willing to try to work things out. She is a blamer.
Anyway, enough complaining about the book. I don't recommend it, and I definitely don't recommend that you try the audio book version either. The reader is not so great.
I love to read, and it's been a very long time since I've written a bad review on any book. I'm pretty easy to please, but I don't have a lot of good things to say about this book. I was extremely disappointed.
I guess I could say that it was "well written," but the author did very little to protect her main charater. As a devoted young Catholic wife and mother, I should have identified with her, but I have very little sympathy for a woman who would cheat on her spouse...with a monk, no less (don't get me started on him)! I kept thinking the heroine would do something to redeem herself. But, as I turned the last page, I felt an overwhelming sense that I would never get back the time I spent reading this lousy book.
To be fair, the book is written against a beautiful backdrop, and it certainly is a good scandal. If you're not ethically offended by the storyline you may really enjoy it.
You will find some similiar themes in the book as in the secret life of Bees. Sacred Feminism, a girl traumatized by and full of guilt over the death of parent, atonement, finding oneself. The book is fully of some beautiful symbolic events, and colorful characters just like SLoBs. It is worth reading.
I passed this book up several times while browsing the PBS listings, then I came across it while in my local Salvation Army. I'm so glad that I brought it home because I loved it! It wasn't what I expected, and I really enjoyed the style of Sue Monk Kidd's writing.
If I knew this book was so good I never would have passed it up to begin with! Definitely a good read!
I thought this was an enjoyable book about a woman's complicated relationship with her mother, dealing with her father's death, and coming to terms with her life as a wife and mother without losing herself. Very well written.
I read this book in about 3 days. Needless to say, it was an easy read! I'm not sure what to say about it exactly ... it was pleasant to read, quick to get into, easy to identify with the characters ... but I'm just not sure about this book.
It's not the type of book I USUALLY read, so maybe that's what's bugging me about it. Or MAYBE I identified with the main character more than I really wanted to or will admit to?! That thought just occurred to me as I sat here writing this. When people (in books and in real life) act irresponsibly in some way - even if it is for good reason - it really irks my nerves. So as I read this book and saw how Jessie basically walked out on her marriage it really bothered me. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that in the end, I was happy with the way things turned out. I might even say it was worth all the drama in the middle but I'm not really sure about that.
Ok, this is probably the most scatterbrained review you've ever seen. Sorry about that ... this book is hard for me to review for some reason. In all honesty, I think I see myself in Jessie in many ways ... and that is really quite scary for me.
(you can read more of my reviews at www.age30books.blogspot.com)
UPDATE: Laying in bed last night, I kept thinking about this book and I just had to post a few more thoughts. I think what got to me is that I've been married for 10 years and I can see how Jessie might feel after 20 years of marriage. Couples can get complacent, their relationship doesn't grow, and each partner can cease to have an individual identity. That being said, that is NOT how I feel about my marriage. No, it's not perfect, but I'm deeply committed to making it work every day. But I do understand how Jessie got to where she was, and I think that's what really hit home about this book for me.
This is a book that I had no intention of picking up to read. I was not impressed by the advertizment and the subject matter was not really appealing. Then I read "Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd and I wanted more. I am now really happy that I chose to read this book. It tells the tale of one womans search.... "Happily" married for 20 years, mother of one, still blaming herself for the death of her father, and finally called to care for her Mother, as she appears to be going insane, Jessie is opened up to a whole new world...one which does not balance on the life foundation she thought she had.
Really enjoyed both of her books I have read - this and "The Secret Life of Bees" - probably the latter somewhat more. The images of surroundings were my favorite part - this book left me with an intense desire to visit the barrier islands of South Carolina.
I was disappointed in this book after all the hullaballoo. It reminded me of "The Bridges of Madison County" (which I also hated) except in a different setting (South Carolina). (The descriptions of the locale are good and ring true. Otherwise, Stereotypical, cliched, cardboard characters and an oh so predictable outcome.
The book is about a woman who goes back to her childhood home to take care of her mother who has chopped off her finger with a knife. The woman is married with a daughter who is in college. Jessie, the married woman, meets a monk, Brother Thomas, while visiting her mother and falls in love with him. Her husband Hugh comes to visit her and learns of the affair. At this point, I had a hard time reading this book because I don't like reading about married people having affairs and cheating on their spouses. Anyway, the book also contains a secret about Jessie's past, in which she blames herself for her father's death. He died when she was a little girl. Aside from the affair, the book is really good.
Not bad. I had to read this because I was picked to host a book club meeting. I didn't like it at first and had I not been forced to read the whole thing, I wouldn't have kept going and that would have been my loss.
I looked forward to reading this book for a long time before I finally received it and I enjoyed it. It's a story about love and peoples acceptance of each other and themselves. The book kept my attention and I found I couldn't seem to put it down. If I had one complaint it would be that I wasn't sure why the heroine and her husband were estranged. The author never seemed to explain the reasons and just alluded to problems and that confused me. I thought the husband was very tolerant, understanding and forgiving of the wife. This is the second book I have read by this author and I have enjoyed both of them.
This is a story of a woman who had always defined herself as a wife and mother. When her daughter went off to college, she started to look at her life and ask herself if she was truly happy. She didn't come face to face with it until her mother, whom she hadn't seen in several years, had an accident. She was asked to come back to the coastal South Carolina home of her youth to help her mother, and forced to face the demons that haunted her since her father's death some 30 years before.
While taking care of her mother, she develops a relationship with a monk in the local monastery. She is forced to come to terms with her past, her present, and how she wants to spend her future.
Filled with an abundance of rich characters, this is a well-written story that pulls you in and makes you care.
9 CD set. Part family drama, part love story, part mystery, and part coming of age when your only child leaves for college. Why did her mother mutilate herself now? Why was her father's accidental death never quite a settled issue? Why doe her marriage feel empty and unfulfilling? Why has she stayed away from the island for so long? And why does she only now feel compelled to put all these matters straight? A good long story to help with the commute.
An enjoyable read, although not nearly as engaging as her debut, "The Secret Life of Bees." While the story was okay, it was the descriptions of the coastal island that really drew me in. Her words created pictures in my mind and that's what I liked best about this book.
I'm not sure I agree with Jessie's decisions - but then I didn't write the book. Still it was a worthwhile way to waste a couple hours.
I couldn't wait to read this since I loved Secret Life of Bees but should have. This one just didnt' do it for me. Thought the storyline was not well developed and fell really flat right off the beginning. This could have been wonderful but not enough effort went into it. Bummer.
Jessie Sullivan is learning to live life as an empty nester now that her daughter, Dee, has gone off to school at Vanderbilt. Her psychologist husband, Hugh, has encouraged her see someone to help her deal with the changes in her life but she refuses to do that. Then she gets a call from her mothers best friend that sends her back to help care for her widowed mother despite their estrangement.
Jessies father died when she was nine in a boat explosion. Her mother kept the details of the death from Jessie and her brother, but Jessie snooped and found newspaper clippings that indicated that there was something suspicious about the explosion and that it may have been caused by a pipe that her father was smoking. A pipe that her father would have not been smoking if Jessie hadnt given it to him as a gift. All these years, Jessie has blamed herself.
While on the remote Egret Island, where her mother lives, Jessie has to come to terms with her relationship with her mother and her husband and the choices she has made in her life, both in the past and in the present.
I really enjoyed this book. Sue Monk Kidd does a wonderful job developing the characters and setting the scene. I also found myself very frustrated with Jessie Sullivan she was often too harsh, especially with her mother, and very untrue to herself, especially with regard to her relationship with the novice monk.
Bookfanatic reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is a complete disappointment. I think this book will be a huge trigger for anyone who has experienced infidelity. (spoiler) A woman in a close, happy marriage chooses to have an affair with a monk who lives in the marshes. She comes back to her life with her husband as if nothing happened. All is forgiven. No real consequences for what she did. This is one of those fluffy "Follow Your Heart" type of books. I can deal with infidelity in stories (I'm an adult), but the whole unrealistic way of how this happened and was dealt with ruined the book for me. There's no personal growth for the heroine, no hard work to get the couple back together. It's as if the affair never happened.
This was my first Sue Monk Kidd book (I know, Secret Life of Bees is still on my TBR list!). I thoroghly enjoyed the characters, the story and the pace of the book. It really showed a woman's mid-life struggle to find herself by discovering that some of the "truths" she had been told as a child to protect her, actually were worse than if she had been told the real truth in the first place. The lies festered not only in her, but in her Mother and others, and were brought to the surface painfully. I gave it 4 stars.
I loved this book. It is a complex, interesting, multi-generation story for/about women and the intricacies of their relationships. A very satisfying read and, I think better than the Secret Life of Bees.
Especially after Secret Life of Bees, which I loved. The main character was annoying and without ruining the plot for those who will read it, I took issue with the character's morals and choices in life.
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as Secret Life of Bees. The characters are engaging, but a little more literal than those in Bees. I also find female characters who leave their "normal" lives to find themselves, or whatever, a bit annoying. The reasons for leaving are never compelling enough, the collateral damage always so predictable. That said, it was a pleasant enough read. I might have liked it more, had I read it first. It makes me wonder if the old saw is really true...most authors really only have one great book in them...
This story uses a lot of symbolism and underlying meaning to explain everything that happens in the book. The author would like you to buy into all of this underlying information, but I found it very hard to explain away the happenings in the book as having a deeper meaning. Take away all the symbolism, and what you have is a woman who has an affair just because she's become bored with her husband. Hard for me to feel in alliance with this way of thinking, and I was a little put off by the idea that I should accept this affair as "okay" just because there was all this mysticism and underlying reason for it. Normally when reading a book, I can go where the main character goes in her thinking, but not in this book.
I suppose I was expecting another "Secret Life of Bees". This one wasn't as good to me but it was still a very interesting book. A midlife crisis for one woman brings to life an old secret that shaped her life without her knowing it. Mysterious and thought provoking.
Rachelle S. (MSW2b) - , reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed, The Mermaid Chair, however it did not leave a lasting impression as 'The Secret Life of Bees' did. In the 'The Secret Life of Bees' I felt as if I was part of the book- witnessing the events first hand. The event were based on historical issues and I was captivated. I had hoped for the same feelings of captivation with 'The Mermaid Chair' but was disappointed. In fact I am not sure that I would have finished 'The Mermaid Chair' if I had not enjoyed the author's previous works so much.
Good but not as good as Secret Life of Bees. The main character was a little self-indulgent for my taste and the story wasn't nearly as intriguing to me as Bees. All in all, it was a good book and worth the time it took to read, but just wasn't my favorite from Sue Monk Kidd.
I liked the character development from suburban housewife to coming into her own while taking care of her mother while living where she grew up - on an island. Her affair with the priest may be bothersome to some people but she grew to know herself - her strengths and weaknesses - and the book reflects her inner turmoil.
This book was good then went down hill in the last few chapters. I liked hearing about the main character's mother, and about her extra marital relationship with a monk, but in the end, it really let me down. How ever it was an alright book, I'm glad I read it!
Jessie Sullivan returns to Egret Island,off the coast of South Carolina, to care for her mother and finds herself attracted to a young monk at a Benedictine Monastery where "resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion."
Back cover: "A vividly imagined love story between a woman and a monk, a woman and her husband, and ultimately a woman and her own soul."
To me, this was a profound glimpse into the psychology of a lonely, pained soul.
When Jessie's mother appears to have a mental breakdown, it shakes Jessie out of the mundane life of wife and mother she has both created for herself and trapped herself within. Returning to her childhood home she confronts her estranged mother, the ghost of her revered late father, and (with the help of a monk) journeys to the center of her soul to discover herself.
Reading this book was like swimming in poetry. The writing is so beautiful and the imagery so glorious, that I was very moved. The story itself was pertinent to me as we are of an age. The 80s tv references were fun too.
I just couldn't get into this book. I read a few chapters and never had any connection with the characters. Like some of the other reviewers, I didn't think it was anywhere near as good as The Secret Life of Bees. I was so disapointed that I never finished reading it.
A vividly imagined love story between a woman and a monk, a woman and her husband, and ultimately a woman and her own soul, The Mermaid Chair is the transcendent tale of Jesse Sullivan's self discovery.
Another good read from Ms. Kidd. Although not quite comparable to "The Secret Life of Bees", this work is similar in its quirky and lovable characters, and delves deeply into the agony and glory of self discovery. Highly recommend!
I really liked the Secret Life of Bees much better. This story was kind of flat, the only interesting part was the mermaid chair itself and the lore behind it. I had a hard time empathizing with the main character.
Writing is flawless, as was her original book. This one's been made into a movie for TV (didn't see it.) I felt the plot fell short, but after her "Bees" book, it was tough to follow up with something fantastic. Covers Jesse's midlife crisis, an affair with a monk,and both her and her mother coming to terms with her father's years ago death.
Oh my goodness... There was so much to take in with this book. I found some of the deeply religious undertones to be disturbing at times. Not a big fan of The Mermaid Chair, although Sue Monk Kidd is an incredible story teller.
Kidd can really draw you into her story. This one was intriguing, and I couldn't decide how I wanted it to end! I wasn't sure I wanted to finish it and find out what happened, but of course I did. Very good book!
We know from early in the book that Jessie is restless and not quite content in her empty-nester's life. "I didn't know then what I wanted, but the ache for it was palpable."
I enjoyed this story of a woman returning to her hometown to care for her mentally-deteriorating mother. Along the way, she rediscovers herself in a way that both "damns and saves" her. Even though I've never been married, I could relate to Jessie's character in many ways...wondering what happened to the girl I once was.
Liked it, but didn't love it like I did The Secret Life of Bees. The beginning chapters of the book were much more interesting than the end. Near the end, I found myself wanting to rush through it and just get done with it.
After The Secret Life of Bees, it's pretty hard to keep on getting better. This story is about mid-life crisis in a woman's life and the rather extreme way she copes. I guess I liked the writing--lots of detailed imagery about the island on the North Carolina coast which almost made you smell the swamp--but I really didn't like Jessie very much. Kidd really kept you in the dark about the reasons for the Mother's unbalance and the story was well crafted. Well, ok, I liked the story, just not as well as I expected. But not a waste of time, by any means.
This book is about an empty-nester who is having a sort of mid-life crisis after her daughter leaves for college. The mother of the main character inflicts harm upon herself requiring the daughter to go home which doesn't have the best memories for her. While there she falls in love with a monk and becomes estranged from her husband. She also uncovers some secrets from her past which allow her to sort of get beyond the mid-life crisis.
Another amazing story by Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees as well). A woman's journey of amazing emotional strength and transformation. Difficult to read at times because of the painful decisions that face her. Colorful descriptions of the scenery make you feel like you are there. Highly recommend.
If you liked Kidd's Secret Life of Bees (teenage coming of age novel), you will love Kidd's The Mer4maid Chair (middle age women's coming of age novel). It is a love story involving a monk, a woman, her husband, and herself. Loved it!
I actually liked this book much better than her first. It is a journey of self discovery that more women should venture out on (though not necessarily by being unfaithful to their husbands). A good read.
So many people compare this book to Sue Monk Kidd's first novel The Secret Life of Bees. Do yourself a favor and do not compare the two. They are entirely different stories. I loved The Mermaid Chair. I also loved The SL of Bees. Just read it and enjoy! Sue Monk Kidd has a phenomenal talent for storytelling.
A vividly imagined love story between a woman and a monk, a woman and her husband, and ultimately a woman and her own soul, The Mermaid Chair is the transcendent tale of Jessie Sullivan's self-discovery.
This book was ok. I have not read other books by this author and that may have helped as I have read that there are better ones than this out there. All in all it was an interesting story that ended differently than I would have written it, but it was pleasant and quick.
The first paragraph of Monk Kidd's book is a spoiler. She admits right out of the gate that the story is about an affair she had with a Benedictine monk. Not to worry, there are other mysteries to read toward. If you credit yourself when reading a mystery of being able to figure out the who-done-it in advance of the revelation,then try your skills on this one. Along with the mystery of "why are these people behaving so oddly", is the emotional travels of the female main character. As in any good book, have an experience without having to actually have the experience.
This was the first book by Kidd that I have read. It was very reflective on relationships with parents, religion, guilt, marriage, and many other things. I enjoyed the book, but be prepard for certain parts to stay with you after you have finished the book.
I haven't read Bees yet, but it is on my list. If it is anywhere near as well written and this one, I won't be disappointed.
Kidd is a great author of stories. She tells them in a way that make you feel like a part of the story. This is no different. The passion, suspense, and characters will make you read just one more page. A great follow-up to -Secret Life of Bees-.
This is a story about a woman's journey to self-discovery or self-belonging. It's not hard to guess what happens...the story is pretty predictable, even just reading the dust jacket. The writer's style is very fluid and poetic so I can see why so many people like reading her stuff, but it wasn't stimulating enough for me.
Well, this is a beautifully written book, lyric, full of emotion and sights and smells, and at times, I was so bored I almost quit reading it for good. But since I loved Secret Life of Bees so much, I kept going. So many loved this book, it must have been me. I just liked it.
At first the main character was difficult to relate to however, the scenery grabs you right from the beginning. I found myself captured by the salt marshes and mood of the South. The Mermaid Chair has so much depth to it that you'll just disappear into its pages.
Unfortunately I did not like this book. I ordered it because I really enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's other books. Definately captivating in the first few chapters but I slowly lost interest towards the end and stoped reading it.
When an early Ash Wednesday morning phone call wakes Jessie and her husband Hugh, she knows the day is going to be even more horrible than usual. For decades she has associated the day with her father's death and has felt nothing but guilt about it. But as she finds out her mother has purposely injured herself, and in the wake of her growing discontent within her marriage, she finds the courage to finally pack a bag and go back to the coastal Carolina island where her obsessively Catholic mother, and her mother's two very different best friends, raised her. Once she arrives, though the island at first glance hasn't changed, Jessie starts to see her past, her family, and herself in a totally different way, thanks in part to the (comparatively) young monk from the abbey next door, Brother Thomas.
I finished this book in one sitting. Kidd has created a colorful, vivid world inhabited by real people, just as flawed and eccentric as we all are. The strength of the main characters' connection to the nature of the island is admirable, and very different than the way most mainlanders live. But, underneath that, the story belongs in the "rediscovering self" sub-genre in which the main character relearns what he or she thought was known from an adult's point of view. I'm surprised by the number of books that can be written about someone "finally" growing up after age forty, and yet pleased, because in theory then, there is also hope for us all to find a better kind of happiness.
This book is good - not great. It definitely is not as good as "The Secret Life of Bees". The main character did not draw me in and make me sympathize with her as much as I would have liked. I was not satisfied with some of the conflict resolution.
I am a librarian, so I get many books for free and/or cheap. This is how I came to own "The Mermaid Chair". It sat on my bookshelf for months until I stumbled upon it as I was looking for something to read. I thought the story sounded intriguing, but most of all I wanted to check out Sue Monk Kidd, since I had heard so much about "The Secret Life of Bees" (which I haven't read yet).
The book was easy to get into, since Kidd gets right to the point: Jessie Sullivan, a seemingly perfect wife and mother, had fallen in love with a monk during the winter and spring of 1988. How could this happen?
A few pages later it is also revealed that Jessie lost her father - a victim of a boating accident - when she was 10-years-old, and that her Mother (who she hasn't seen in years) had recently cut off her finger. And so the story begins...
I was immediately impressed with Kidd's ability to capture subtle beauties: eccentric personalities, a wandering dog that belongs to everyone and no one, thoughts on life, art, and freedom... I thought her quite a writer, yet I knew she could get better. At times she went a bit flowery, a little too "romance novel". It made me wonder if perhaps this was her first book. I was surprised to learn it wasn't. Still, it made me want to read more of her work, especially "The Secret Life of Bees", which I am sure I will get to soon.
An easy one-afternoon read. Sue Monk Kidd brings her characters to life, flawed as they are. Jessie's mother's breakdown coincides with her own midlife crisis, which leads her back home to discover the root of it all.
A volunteer at one of the thrift stores I frequent, forced this book into my hand, claiming I needed to read it... even tho, I don't read much fiction. So, I read it and I'm glad I did. I will be passing it on to my daughters to read. It's nonfiction equal: A Marriage Sabbatical.
As for the book, it has a slow take-off. Some of the story is too predictable.
I wish Kidd hadn't written sex into the story... she could have made the same impression on me without the she's beautiful/he's handsome/they make love bit. The affair takes away from the beauty and essence of the story, for me. The ending could have been better, even tho I openly cried when she woke up to the smell of her husband cooking breakfast.
The writing is Elizabeth Berg, with sex.
From the back cover: "The mermaid chair is a vividly imagined novel about mermaids and saints, about the passions of the sprit and the ecstasies of the body".
This book is a rich walk to the coast of SC and with Jessie, the main character's life as she grapples with the decision to stay married to her husband Hugh after life has become stale and predictable.
Very different from her previous book, The Secret Life of Bees, but i also enjoyed this one a lot. Very involving story of love and a women finding herself. Like Anne Rivers siddons but more original and unique.
Too much religion for me, and I found the characters difficult to relate to and the situations beyond my comprehension (myself being only 25, newly and very happily, married). Still, I think others would enjoy it, perhaps others who's lives it may resonate more closely with the story and/or than my own.
Beautifully written story about one woman's search for love, appreciation, and answers from her mother, her husband, and her lover. Though not my normal "type" of book, I thought this was especially moving.
A slow start with a questionable story line. The sex was a totally unnecessary addition. I thought the Secret Life of Bees by this author was kind of interesting and three of five stars. I was disappointed in this one.
I waited for the release of this book with great anticipation, after reading Sue Monk Kidd's previous book (The Secret Life of Bees.) The Mermaid Chair didn't quite live up to my expectations (which were, admittedly, high.) This is still a solid book that held my interest to the end. I was impressed with the characterization, but a little disappointed in the development of the relationship between the main character (Jessie) and Whit, the seminary student with whom she has an affair. Not a dealbreaker though, in my opinion.
Lynn E. (tehanu) reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Don't expect another "Secret Life of Bees" but this is a great book, it's just different than what you're probably expecting from Sun Monk Kidd. Give it a try, I think you'll get pulled into it and be pleasantly surprised.
I just finished THE MERMAID CHAIR, and am now going to go out and get her very well known THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES and Kidd's other books, THE DANCE OF THE DISSIDENT DAUGHTER and WHEN THE HEART WAITS. More praise might just be superfluous, yes?
THE MERMAID CHAIR depicts the story of a risky period in any woman's life. She's been married to the same good man for 20 years or so, and her only child just left for college. Abruptly her mother (who lives on an isolated island) appears to be going dangerously insane. Her only sibling refuses to help. It's solely up to her to deal with the situation since she already lost her father to a boating accident many years earlier--or was that really true?
Enjoyed this book very much but didn't think it was as good as "The Secret Life of Bees" which was a 10! Sue Monk Kidd has written another wonderful book, though, which I recommend to those who like her writing and those wanting to check her out.
I loved this book. If you enjoyed Secret Life of Bees, you will also enjoy this one. Funny, sad and poignant. A woman caught in the dreariness of mid-life steps out of it for a while only to realize that maybe she shouldn't have.
Excellent read!! Jessie has just settled into the "comfortable" stage in her life and 20 year marriage...until she falls in love with a monk. Great background. Set in beautiful South Carolina salt marshes.
This is the story of a married woman who returns to her childhood home to help her mother heal from a self inflicted wound. She falls in love with a monk at the neighboring monastery and in the process of dealing with her mother and the painful truth of her father's death, comes to a new understanding of herself and love.
Being from the Soutn, I love this book! It is about a young woman and her memories of The Mermaid Chair in her church. Her mother has mental issues, and the Mermaid Chair brings everyone together. Great book!
very dissapointing. i am not a fan of romance novels,so it was difficult
to get into. also,love at first sight is not in my vocabulary.
the main charachter,Jessie,was very unlikeable.
the other charachters were fun and the history of the area wasa interesting.
Another fine novel by Sue Monk Kidd. Jessie Sullivan is more or less forced home to attend to her mother, who may have been going crazy. Back at home on her South Carolina island, she confronts her marriage, her loss of self, her past, and her art. When her understanding of her father's death crumbles, and with it her mother's grip on sanity, Jessie puts her own life back together.
I can't possibly do the book justice. It's definitely another "must-read" by Kidd.
I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book because the main character wasn't someone I could relate to (married, grown kids where I am single, no kids). However, I really enjoyed the story line. It provoked thoughts about love and marriage. It's a good Saturday afternoon read.
This was a wonderful novel. One of the most resonating I've read in a while. The story is about a woman questioning her life, marriage, history, faith, all the usual. While searching for answers she finds pain, guilt, truth, love, etc.. There are some quirky and fun characters, beautiful settings, love affairs, mysteries and mysticism. All of these important and interesting, but the real story is the main character and the heart opening process she goes through. Considering all of this, it is still a pretty light and fast read. Thoroughly enjoyable!
This was a story about a woman going back home as an adult and facing not only her past but finding herself contemplating her future. I really liked how it ended, but I won't spoil it for anyone. Sue Monk Kidd has a pleasant style that is easy to read and brings you into the story.
Sue Monk Kidd, the author of 'The Secret Life of Bees', writes 'The Mermaid Chair' within the regional setting of her own roots, the South Carolina Lowcountry. The story centers around a woman re-exploring her identity and sordid familial past on an island which holds a unique monastery with a miraculous mermaid chair. While recounting a love affair, the story also raises basic philosophical questions about what life means on an individual basis, the consequences of ancestral mistakes, and the struggle and intersection between love, religion, mythology, and miracle. For those who know the story from 'The Secret Life of Bees,' the mermaid chair plays a similar esoteric role as the black Madonna did at the honey farm. Kidd, though centering around the female struggle of finding identity, always adds in a religious, almost magical element to her work, fusing the sacred with the mundane.
At first, I didn't really care for this book at all. It started out SO similarly to _The Secret Life of Bees_ with a daughter feeling responsible for a parent's death. And though the narrator was older, there was a lot of similarity between the two. But, as the novel progressed, it grew to be separate from the first. It became a novel more like Jodi Picoult's - some chapters told by different characters and a revelation at the end. I will continue to watch for this author, because as a whole this novel was good. Maybe I would have enjoyed this more had I not just finished _The Secret Life of Bees_....
I loved Secret Life of Bees so I thought I would love this earlier story of Kidd's, but it so reminded me of the 70's and the ME generation, that is, I can't be a good wife/mother/worker until I find myself. I did not like the primary story line (although it ended the way I hoped) but I kept reading because there was a mystery with the mother involved so I wanted to see what it was. This story to me was not that enjoyable.
Anabelle F. reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
It was one of those books that I couldn't stop reading, Interesting, the narrative very clear and its plot good enough to keep me reading for hours! I literally devour it!
It depicts the reality of many middle age women, it has a real deep meaning. It goes deep into the pshycology of its characters.
This book is very original in a way where people (at least three) experienced major tragic events in life and how they found their own path in life (after the tragic event(s)) after meeting one another. I am a counselor and I think this book is excellent if you wish to read and try to understand some of the personal choices that a person makes and what feelings pass through them as they go through life.
I absolutely loved how the author included some local history and tales about the 'mermaid chair' in the book. It makes me feel as if I was there in person!
The ending was odd but also realistic. We can't always have a happy ending but we have a human nature to try and make sense of everything we do and experience. I believe that was the main point of the book and it brought some enlightenment for me.
A vividly imagined love story between a woman and a monk, a woman and her husband =, and ultimately a woman and her own soul, THE MERMAID CHAIR is the transcendent tale of Jessie Sullivan's self-discovery. The #1 New York Times Bestseller, currently being made into a movie, by the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES
Heidi H. reviewed The Mermaid Chair (Audio Cassette) (Unabridged) on
Definitely enjoyed this book although The Secret Life of Bees was better in my opinion. I found some aspects of the story a little hard to reconcile as far as the characters' choices but that's part of reading books, right? Appreciating other peoples' perspectives.
THIS WAS SUCH A GREAT BOOK. I LIKED IT BETTER THAN THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. SAYS SO MUCH ABOUT LOVE AND LOVING. AN AMAZING BOOK. THE AUTHOR HAS AN INCREDIBLE IMAGINATION AND IS A STORYTELLER IN THE TRUE MEANING OF THE WORD
"THE MERMAID CHAIR is a vividly imagined novel about mermaids and saints, about teh passions of the spirit and teh ecstasies of the body. It illuminate sthe awakening of a woman to her own deepest self with a brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd's ability could conjure."
Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a sain who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.
The Mermaid Chair is a vivdly imagined novel about mermaids and saints, about passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body. It illuminates the awakening of a woman to her own deepest self with a btilliance and power only a writer of Kidd's ability could conjure.
Enjoyed this very much. From the jacket: The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about mermaids and saints, about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body. It illuminates the awakening of a woman to her own deepest self with a brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd's ability cold conjure.
Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Islad, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion. When Jessie is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother's seemingly inexplicabel act of violence, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but once there, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a mnd who is soon to take his final vows. Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and majestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage.