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The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
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The Mermaid Chair (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Sue Monk Kidd

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,9471711,032 (3.11)128
Member:ToniaMaarz
Title:The Mermaid Chair
Authors:Sue Monk Kidd
Info:Penguin (2006), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (2005)

  1. 10
    The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (libelulla1)
    libelulla1: Both center on an illicit relationship between a lay woman and a celibate man (monk, priest).
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  3. 10
    The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst (Anonymous user)
  4. 10
    Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks (HollyMS)
  5. 00
    The Lace Reader: A Novel by Brunonia Barry (julie_e_meyer)
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» See also 128 mentions

English (167)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 167 (next | show all)
I was pretty disappointed in this book. It wasn't terrible....just not quite what I was expecting. ( )
  cubsfan3410 | Sep 1, 2018 |
Harsh and beautiful, and left me feeling dazed. Beautiful writing, and at times difficult to read.

Sue Monk Kidd never gives you what you expect, and although people are often angered by the characters and story, I always appreciate the rawness of her books. The characters and feelings mirror the wild and fierce seaside setting. ( )
  Critterbee | Apr 16, 2018 |
Middle-aged women can do more than be bored and have affairs. Enough with the flat stereotypes. ( )
  JodiLEK | Mar 31, 2018 |
This book pales in comparison to The Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd still shows her brilliance as an author in this book but having read her first, it's impossible to think this book is great. The many elements that were present in her first book were shockingly absent from this one. The characters weren't dynamic at all, though they could have had strong personalities, the reader didn't get much of that coming through.

I got the feeling that the main character (Jessie) was supposed to go through some huge transition... which I suppose she did, but I didn't feel like a part of it at all. Her character was detached in the novel and was detached from the reader which made it very difficult for me to give a damn about what she had to say.

The other major character, Nelle (Jessie's mother) wasn't major at all. To me, she was placed to be a facilitator in Jessie's transformation but she wasn't present enough to actually facilitate anything within the written words.

In the end, the book just got more and more difficult to get through, and the only thing holding me in was finding out the truth about Jessie's father (the climax?). However, even this seemed watered down when it was finally presented. It should have been this big moment, the end all be all for everybody, and it just wasn't for me at all.

I do believe I'd be far less critical if The Secret Life of Bees hadn't been so phenomenal. However, it was, and I think Sue Monk Kidd has far more potential than was shown in this novel. I do look forward to her writing more and coming alive more in future works. ( )
  BEGivens | Mar 21, 2018 |
Amazing. Just...amazing. Sometimes as a woman my age, we look around and wonder "what happened" even if we are happy in our lives. This woman made choices I wouldn't have made, but the spot she's in is totally identifiable. ( )
  Cfo6 | Mar 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 167 (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.
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist
 

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Sue Monk Kiddprimary authorall editionscalculated
Foss, ElizaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
To Scott Taylor and Kellie Bayuzick Kidd with much love.
First words
Prologue
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)

(summary from another edition)

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