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The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Mermaid Chair (2005)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,701164746 (3.11)126
  1. 10
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» See also 126 mentions

English (160)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All (162)
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
The Mermaid Chair follows Jessie Sullivan through a year of doubt and self-discovery about her role as a wife and daughter. Haunted by the tragic loss of her father at a young age, Jessie returns decades later to the South Carolina island of her youth following a radical and desperate act of self-mutilation committed by her estranged mother. Seeking an escape from her stagnant and suffocating marriage and anxious for answers regarding her mother’s descent into mental despair, she turns to the landscape of her youth. Gradually she discovers hope, direction, and a new-found appreciation for self through unexpected love, abandoning her mind and body to art and nature, and the closure regarding her father’s death she has continuously sought. Painfully honest, yet ultimately hopeful, The Mermaid Chair is a candid look at the complexities of family and the importance of being true to one’s self. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
It's been more than 6 months since I read this & I really don't remember what my reaction was...other than I had decided I would give the book away rather than keep it. So, probably general light reading, well written but nothing of memorable significance to continue to give it shelf space. ( )
  juniperSun | May 2, 2017 |
I didn't like Jessie very much. She was very selfish. She gave no thought to the damage she was doing to her marriage by getting involved in Whit.

Her marriage will survive, but it will be slow. She also hurt her relationship with her daughter. ( )
  nx74defiant | Apr 30, 2017 |
Another book that went into the trash after reading it lest it fall into the hands of an unsuspecting reader. It was hard to believe this was written by the same author of The Secret Lives of Bees, an excellent read. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
Love story — quick ending wraps a lot up in last chapter —
Pg. 153 Experience God in Beautiful nothing
Point of life to rest in it — Contemplate it, love it, — eventually disappear into it.
Nature - Divine running rampant
Pg. 171 - my life Beautifully contained - like Russian nesting dolls - encompassed in wifeness - Nesting Dolls - A Cocoon

Telling the story of Jessie Sullivan -- a love story between a woman and a monk, a woman and her husband, and ultimately a woman and her own soul -- Kidd charts a journey of awakening and self-discovery illuminated with a brilliance that only a writer of her ability could conjure.
  christinejoseph | Dec 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 160 (next | show all)
Forty-three-year old Jessie Sullivan is pulled out of her staid life in Atlanta with her husband and daughter, back to her childhood home on Egret Island after her mother, Nelle, cuts off one of her own fingers. Jessie has been uneasy with the island since her beloved father died when she was nine in a boating accident, a tragedy Jessie has always felt partially responsible for. At the behest of her mother's best friend, Jessie journeys back to the island to try to reconnect with the mother she's never been close to. Jessie wants to know what drove her obviously disturbed mother to sever her finger, and she thinks Father Dominic, one of the Benedictine monks who resides in a nearby monastery, might know more about her mother's state of mind. But it is another monk who claims Jessie's attention--handsome Brother Thomas, who ignites in Jessie a passion so intense it overwhelms her, leading her to question her marriage and rediscover her artistic drive.
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Sue Monk Kiddprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foss, ElizaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I don't love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain dark things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
—Pablo Neruda

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along. —Rumi
To Scott Taylor and Kellie Bayuzick Kidd with much love.
First words
In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh's wife and Dee's mother, one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, I fell in love with a Benedictine monk.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143036696, Paperback)

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.

By boldly tackling such major themes as love, betrayal, grief, and forgiveness, The Mermaid Chair forces readers to question whether moral issues can always be interpreted in black or white. It is this ability to so gracefully present multiple sides of a story that reinforces Kidd's reputation as a well-respected modern literary voice. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on tiny 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.… (more)

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