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 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!
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.
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.
"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 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 :)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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