The Mermaid Chair Author:Sue Monk Kidd Sue Monk Kidd's stunning debut, The Secret Life of Bees, has transformed her into a genuine literary star. Now, in her much-anticipated new novel, Kidd has woven a transcendent tale that will thrill her legion of fans and cement her reputation as one of the most remarkable writers at work today. — Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on ti... more »ny Egret Island, 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.
Jessie Sullivan's conventional life has been "molded to the smallest space possible." So when she is called home to cope with her mother's startling and enigmatic act of violence, Jessie finds herself relieved to be apart from her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but on Egret Island--amid the gorgeous marshlands and tidal creeks--she becomes drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is mere months from taking his final vows. What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother's tormented past, but most of all, as Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, she will find a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right.
What inspires the yearning for a soul mate? Few writers have explored, as Kidd does, the lush, unknown region of the feminine soul where the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic exists. The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body; one that illuminates a woman's self-awakening with the brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd's ability could conjure.« less
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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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.