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The Mermaid Chair Paperback – March 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143036696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143036692
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (743 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Every aspect of this audiobook, from the enchanting music that marks the story's dramatic moments to the narrator's intimate delivery, draws listeners into Kidd's mystical world. Set on Egret Island, a fictional barrier island off the coast of South Carolina, the novel focuses on 42-year-old Jessie, a Southern housewife who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after learning that her mother, who's still distraught over her husband's death 33 years earlier, has cut off her own finger. Foss speaks with grace and tenderness, deftly capturing the myriad characters who enter Jessie's life, including her love interest, an introspective attorney turned monk who's about to take his finals vows. Perhaps the book's most important character, however, is the land itself, and Foss wisely gives as much weight to Kidd's detailed depictions of the island's lush flora and fauna as to the characters themselves, never rushing through the descriptions and always reading these passages with an appropriate note of reverence.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback Book of the Year and Good Morning America's "Read This!" Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, won the 2005 Quill Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
150
4 star
127
3 star
138
2 star
137
1 star
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See all 743 customer reviews
This book was amazing and very well written!
Natalie Bradley
I was very disappointed with this book--it drags on too long and you really don't care about any of the characters.
SDuermyer
I had a hard time finishing this book, I kept thinking, "it has to get better" but it never did.
S. Ziemer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

136 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Alexiel on August 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Amazon.com's editorial review is so far off base it's stunning. It says "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." I say, what book doesn't "tackle" this issues? They're so universal, few books don't "tackle" them? To say nothing of boldness.

The only thing this book does boldly is advance a quasi-Ayn Rand like "philosophy" that essentially consists of the mantra "Selfishness is good." Well, let me rephrase that. This book toutes subordination to one's every whim and desire and unrepentant selfishness with no thought to external consequences and wraps it up shabbily as the politics of reawakening and philosophy.

If I could communicate one statement to the author, whose "Secret Life Of Bees" was an infinitely more charming book that did not groan under the weight of its preternaturally overburdened excesses and trite ambitions, it would be this: There are probably few protagonists less involving, sympathetic, and interesting than whiny, self-aggrandizing, navel-gazing narcissists.

Reading this review, you might think I don't like books like these. That's not true. Introspection and questioning the fundamentals of one's life as a means to genuine, meaningful, and edifying self-realization and self-actualization can often be a fascinating read. But not this. This is a book about an utterly vapid woman whose obsession with herself and her own thoughts and feelings leads her to some rather shallow and unconvincing experimentations done far better in much older books. You've met people like this. Nothing fascinates them more than themselves, and they're endlessly questioning the meaning of their thoughts, feelings, etc.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Julia Rose on June 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read Secret Life of Bees when it first came out, and immediately deemed it as a moderen day classic and one of the best books that I have ever read. Therefore, I could hardly wait to begin The Mermaid Chair.

The novel begins with a promising start and Sue Monk Kidd's descriptions of the island and the ocean itself are absolutely breathtaking. One of her great strengths is her magical way with words and how she can make the reader feel as if you are walking on Egret Island.. This novel is also very rich with its religious symbology and metaphors, as well as some of the explorations of the feminine mystique.

However...

One of the things that blew me away about "Bees" were the too-good-to-be-true characters. Lily was one of the most believable protagonists in years, while the three sisters were incredibly rich characters. However, in Mermaid the characters are sketches of themselves with no real meat. It seems as if Kidd intended these characters to be something more, but only drew them out in pencil.

I liked what I saw of Kat, as well as Benne. But couldn't Kidd have developed them? I would have been so much more attached if she had....

Even Jessie, as the narrator is depicted as shallow and insensitive. I would have loved to have heard more from Nelle instead of her being stereotyped as "the crazy woman". What was her perspective on thing?

As for the romance factor--don't get me wrong. I love romance, but it has to be classy and well done. There has to be a conncection of the characters falling in love, as well as not too much of the lovey-dovey factor. Tracy Chevallier does a very classy job of writing romance, if you want an example.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Delilah on August 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved The Secret Life of Bees and was expecting to love this one. I was very disappointed. I may as well have read a Harlequin romance. The plot was a predictable cliche, the characters were unsympathetic, and it was boring. I would recommend readers skip this one and hope the next novel is better.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Spring on August 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment! "The Secret Life of Bees," Monk's previous book, was original. It featured a believable heroine and an interesting cast of supporting characters, even if its ending was contrived. Reviewers wrote that this book was even better, so....I had high hopes.

The book is the trite, oh-so-often-told story of a middle age woman who is discontent despite having unlimited money, a wonderful child, and a wildly handsome, incredibly wonderful, professionally successful husband.

She runs to the aid of the mother she has not visited in seven years -- in large part because mom hated the last birthday present she gave her -- and, huge surprise!, falls in love with the first man who crosses her path. The attraction is all the stronger, and the sex amazing, surprise again!, because he is unavailable.

There are two predictably eccentric minor characters, and the mother is so thinly drawn that it is difficult to summon a mental picture of her.

There is practically zero suspense as the main character, the woman fleeing a perfect life, is not interesting enough to inspire much interest in the details of a trauma that she endured at age 9 and that has colored her relationship with her mother.
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