Customer Reviews for

The Mermaid Chair

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Soul Satisfying Book

In The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd does for fiction what the Flemish masters did for painting. She imbues each scene with so much reality it unfolds in your mind like a memory.

You can taste the salty sea air and smell the murky island scents of Egret Island. You fe...
In The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd does for fiction what the Flemish masters did for painting. She imbues each scene with so much reality it unfolds in your mind like a memory.

You can taste the salty sea air and smell the murky island scents of Egret Island. You feel every horrific and blessed thing that Jessie experiences.

I have never fallen so completely in love with a book before. Her writing is beyond beautiful. It¿s startling and humbling. I found myself nodding and rereading lines, thinking YES that is exactly how it feels but how did she capture it so perfectly?

The book is brimming with brilliance. Some of my favorite lines are:

¿The mind is so good at revising reality to suit its needs.¿

¿There¿s release in knowing the truth no matter how anguishing it is.¿

¿Sometimes the heart wanted what the soul demanded.¿

The story felt like a mid-life crisis crossed with a finding oneself journey.

Sue Monk Kidd¿s website describes the story as ¿the transendent tale explores the lush, unknown region of the feminine soul where the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic exists. Here is an unforgettable love story, between a woman and a monk, a woman and her family, and ultimately a woman and her own soul.¿

I think of it as a spiritual journey that leaves Jessie and the reader forever changed by calling into question the bonds of love and commitment. By reminding us that everything is a choice. Whether to leave a husband, to reunite with a parent, to be fully alive.

Sue Monk Kidd is a master of the writing craft. Her ability to set the scene is breathtaking and realistic. Her dialogue is poignant. Her character¿s internal thoughts vivid and engaging. There was not one point in the book where I wanted to put it down. Every aspect of the writing was engaging. I will be rereading this book for years to come, hoping to gain insight into how she does it.

posted by KourtneyH on December 21, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Buy The Secret Life of Bees pass this one by

I bought this book for my mom cause she loved the Secret Life of Bees, do not buy this book you will regret it. She hated this book and told me all the details daily as she read this book, she could not have hated a book more. Save yourself do not buy this book it is re...
I bought this book for my mom cause she loved the Secret Life of Bees, do not buy this book you will regret it. She hated this book and told me all the details daily as she read this book, she could not have hated a book more. Save yourself do not buy this book it is really bad.

posted by i-READ-BEFORE-COMMENTING on May 7, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    Dissapointment

    As someone who calles The Secret Life of Bees her favorite book, I was completely dissapointed with The Mermaid Chair. The former was an epic, life changing read and the latter only proved to be a book, that's it. I found myself comparing Jessie to Lily and wondering why I could not relate to Jessie as I so easily did with the other. All in all, I think that if you are completely in love with one, you are not going to appreciate the other.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    Barf!

    Unbelievable 'love' story and kept waiting to really believe in these people-- didn't happen! Felt like I was reading dime store romance!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2005

    SKIP IT

    I read 'Bees' and loved it. However, The Mermaid Chair fell short of my expectations. It is not well written and a hard to believe tale...Who falls in love w/ a monk? I had a hard time finishing it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2005

    Disappointing Read

    I was anxious about reading Sue Monk Kidds latest book, but less than half-way through it, I put it down to read something else. It just wasn't at all the kind of fictional story that anyone i would think could really relate to or get excited about. I ended up picking it back up last night to finish it because like most readers, you hate to start to read a book and then stop. I think that if the story would have went another direction it may have made it worth reading, but, unless you are a miserable 42 year old woman who is married and finding herself unhappy and drawn to members of the holy cloth, then dont bother reading this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005

    Disappointed and Angry

    I love The Secret Life of Bees, so like everyone else, I was thrilled to hear her next book was out, but what a disappointment. I disliked Jesse so much it angered me to finish the novel. It was only because I was on a flight that I didn't say 'forget it'. I almost completely skipped over Will's story. He didn't anger me like Jesse, but I felt nothing for him, which in turn made me hate Jesse even more. I did not read Hugh as controlling, so it infuriated me even more to read about her ridiculous love affair with a monk! I like Sue Monk Kidd, and will read her next novel, but I hope it's nothing like this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2005

    If I could give less than one star I would

    The Secret Life of Bees was such a good story that I was able to overlook the childish and boring prose. What that book had in storytelling and imagination saved it from being a complete loss. The Mermaid Chair on the other hand I would list among the Rule of Four, as one of the worst most overhyped dissapointing books I have ever read. The writing is equally poor but the story this time isnt there. And at the end I was wondering how I got lured into buying this book. It was really quite terrible and totally disappointing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2005

    Less than interesting

    I loved The Secret Life of Bees but find this book doesn't grab my attention and hold it. I actually have the audio book and it just wasn't entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2005

    I could not figure out the message

    I loved the secret life of bees. When I read the mermaid chair I could not figure out what is the author trying to say. It did not have a story or to say the truth any message. I hate the ending about the father. I think this book is waste of time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2005

    Pandering to cliches - midlife crises, empty nest, etc.

    It seems to me that Ms. Kidd wrote a book according to a focus group's recommendations for a new cosmetic (believe me, I know focus groups!) All the cliches are here - empty nester married for too long, who had abandoned her youthful dreams of being a sophisticated and urbane artist, goes home to deal with an aging parent and - cue the Lucinda Williams soundtrack here! - her own mortality, draws and paints mermaids 'abandoning' their former lives while she is imbibing hot herbal tea in a room full of scents so overpowering that she is 'intoxicated' and emerging her entire self in her hot bath (do you catch the mermaid symbolism here?? how could you not? Throughout the entire book Kidd pours it on like a tsunami!!) This was more like a Harlequin romance than the work of a gifted, skilled and spiritually knowledgeable and craftsman-like writer like Kidd. Every time she described Kat as irascible or provided yet one more stereotypical description of the stately African American friend's outfits, I groaned. This book was obviously the publisher's cashing in on what they thought would sell to middle-aged women facing all the same hot-button issues that Kidd addresses within the book, and banking on Kidd's strong 'brand' launch of '...Bees.' I was extremely disappointed and made it to the end just to see if some revelatory insights would emerge out of what I thought were just mediocre plot 'McGuffins.' Instead, the McGuffins are all there is. I really wanted to love this book so I was very disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2005

    Insipid

    I picked up this book only because I had enjoyed 'The Secret Life of Bees' so much I read it twice. 'The Mermaid Chair' doesn't sound like it's written by the same person. It reads like a very weak first novel, and makes me wonder if the author hid it in a drawer only to trot it out after the success of 'Bees.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2005

    waaahhhh!

    I waited forever for this book to come out and was so disappointed! The luminous characters in 'Bees' were real and life affirming. The cardboard cutouts in 'Chair' were whiney and self centered. I'm so glad that I checked this one out of the library and didn't waste my cash. My guess is that Ms Kidd has a universe of excellent writing in her, but this wasn't it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2005

    Disappointing Follow Up

    As many people, I am a big fan of The Secret Life of Bees, but upon completion of The Mermaid Chair, I am very disappointed. All in all, this is just a summer romance novel. I started reading this book, expecting/hoping to see the same wonderful character developement and plot detail as in her first book. Unfortunately this book lacks any of that sparkle and just left you feeling 'blah' when done.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2005

    AVID READER

    I did NOT like this book. Found it very ordinary and predictable. I was truly disappointed in what could have been a wonderful tale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2005

    Adultery and Euthenasia?

    I cannot believe I wasted my summer reading time with this book! So let me get this straight...a woman cheats on her wonderful husband with a 'man of God' and then learns her mother helped her father commit suicide and is somehow noble and long suffering because of it? I saw nothing redeeming about any of the characters in this novel and that is essential for good fiction. Her attention to detail and flair for similes and metaphors are about the only good qualities here..I won't be reading any more of her books! Do you think if a man did half the things in this book his wife would be so understanding???

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2005

    Excellent writer tanks big time

    Lame, lame, lame. I thought I was in for a book as wonderful as 'Bees' but nooooooo. I actually turned to the back and read the ending because I was so frustrated with the thin and absurd plot. Didn't the author get feedback as she was writing?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    Boring

    I felt the character 'Jesse' was boring and selfish. I was never convinced of her relationship with the monk. I thought the plot was very ' been there done that' It was a struggle to get through this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005

    BIG disappointment....

    I absolutely loved Secret Life of Bees. When I saw that Sue Monk Kidd was coming out with another book I was so excited. What a huge letdown. Same rich writing but a storyline that flops. Lacks any of the depth that was found in Secret life of Bees.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2005

    Sorry!!

    I am not sure what I was expecting but this wasn't it. I LOVED 'The Secret Life of Bees' and I still think SM Kidd is a great writer -- talent wise anyway. This book just fell real short of good in my opinion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2005

    What a Disappointment!

    After reading The Secret Life of Bees, I couldn't wait to get my hands on The Mermaid Chair! Unfortunately, this is a pathetic story about a bored, spoiled and wealthy housewife named Jesse whose daughter has left for college and left her lonely. She decides it's time to put herself through a midlife crisis by visiting her ailing Mother on a remote island and falling for a handsome young monk-in-training. How many women would give anything to have a husband like Hugh? And a life without having to work like Jesse? Give me a break! This book is so shallow and utterly disappointing that I had trouble believing it was the same author that wrote The Secret Life of Bees! A total waste of time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2005

    Very DISAPPOINTED

    I was SO disappointed in this book. I enjoyed 'The Secret Life of Bees' and bought this book expecting another great book. It was absolutely horrible. This book is a joke. It was PAINFUL and hard to finish this book. Don't waste money buying this book. Save it for a good lunch.

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