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 "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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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_....
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.
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.
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-.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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 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.
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.