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The Mermaid Chair
by Sue Monk Kidd

Overview - What We're Reading Now:
"I look through our fiction section regularly for new titles to read. This title caught my eye, and when I read the synopsis I knew I had to take it home. I identify with Kidd's story, which weaves together myth and reality for anyone who knows what it's like to question the life they've lived."
Stephanie Sink, Co-Manager Customer Service

"I just love this story and that's because Sue Monk Kidd is a fantastic writer.  Read more...


 
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More About The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
 
 
 
Overview
What We're Reading Now:
"I look through our fiction section regularly for new titles to read. This title caught my eye, and when I read the synopsis I knew I had to take it home. I identify with Kidd's story, which weaves together myth and reality for anyone who knows what it's like to question the life they've lived."
Stephanie Sink, Co-Manager Customer Service

"I just love this story and that's because Sue Monk Kidd is a fantastic writer. I love the way her mind works and the style with which she puts her ideas into words. Obviously we share the same literary territory so it's a special treat to read her take on it."
Dorothea Benton Frank, Author of 5 titles including NY Times Bestseller, Pawleys Island


Sue Monk Kidd's stunning debut, "The Secret Life of Bees, spent 77 weeks on "The New York Times bestseller list, selling more than 3 million copies and transforming Kidd 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. Jessie Sullivan's conventional life has been "molded to the smallest space possible." But when she is called home to tiny Egret Island and meets Brother Thomas, a monk who is soon to take his final vows, she discovers a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right. Also on the island is a beautiful and mysterious chair that is dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was first a mermaid. Is its power only a myth? Or will it alter the course of Jessie's life? "The Mermaid Chair vividly illuminates a woman's awakening with a brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd's ability could conjure.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780670033942
  • ISBN-10: 0670033944
  • Publisher: Viking Books
  • Publish Date: April 2005
  • Page Count: 335
  • Reading Level: Ages 18-UP


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Books > Fiction > General

 
BookPage Reviews

Sue Monk Kidd's second novel enchants

Fans of Sue Monk Kidd's best-selling debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, will be equally enamored with her beguiling sophomore effort, The Mermaid Chair, which revisits some of the terrain of its predecessor but in an altogether new context. Though the novel centers on a middle-aged woman rather than a young girl, it remains a coming-of-age story of sorts, and its themes of self-discovery, parental loss and the redeeming power of love echo those of Kidd's earlier work.

Jessie Sullivan returns home to the South Carolina island of her youth after finding out that her estranged mother Nelle has committed a bizarre act of self-mutilation. While attempting to uncover the secrets of her mother's tormented past, she meets Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk from the neighboring abbey, with whom she shares an immediate and powerful attraction. As their relationship unfolds, Jessie undergoes a seismic spiritual, artistic and erotic awakening, shedding the confines of her 20-year marriage and her circumscribed roles as wife and mother.

When Nelle's mental state takes a turn for the worse, her eccentric and endearing friends stage a dramatic intervention in which Jessie learns the truth about the death of her beloved father decades earlier. Freed from the guilt and sorrow that have weighed on her since childhood, she is finally able to take possession of herself and begin life anew.

As in the author's previous novel, myth and legend figure prominently in the narrative, here in the form of the title's eponymous chair residing in the island's abbey. Intricately carved with mermaids and dedicated to Senara, a mermaid turned saint, the chair's purported power to answer prayers has long captivated the imagination of hopeful supplicants. But as Jessie discovers with her misguided desire for Brother Thomas, the chair's mythical qualities are no shortcut to enlightenment and serenity.

Reconciling the spiritual with the human, The Mermaid Chair is a captivating metaphorical and sensual journey into one woman's soul. Weaving enduring folklore about the seductive and transformative power of mermaids into a modern-day tale of rebirth, the novel shows us that sometimes we need to swim out to sea for the currents to carry us back home.

Joni Rendon writes from Hoboken, New Jersey.

 
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