Customer Reviews for

The Mermaid Chair

Average Rating 3
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(80)

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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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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    Just okay- not really worth the read-

    This was just an okay book. I wouldn't highly recommend it. This is the story of Jessie who has to go home to deal with her mother who is committing acts of violence. She leaves her husband, Hugh while she is gone and finds herself drawn to a monk (Brother Thomas). Is the power of the mermaid chair a reality or a myth? This was an interesting story but it is unreal, immoral and a bit boring! It is not a story I could relate to, nor would I want to. It is just okay, I wouldn't read it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 28, 2008

    Sorry, not up to snuff.

    I absolutely loved The Secret Life of Bees. It still remains one of my favorites to this day so when Mermaid Chair was released I couldn't wait to read it. I got the Audiobook for a car trip and I was far from impressed. Granted, my expectations were probably very high due to my love for the last book. I couldn't relate to the characters, I wasn't excited as the story progressed and actually ended up forcing myself to listen to it in its entirety so I felt like I got my money's worth before trading it in. I was quite disappointed with this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    Unable to Suspend Disbelief.......

    Sue Monk Kidd's first book, The Secret Life of Bees, was such a fabulous story that I could not put it down. It is difficult to follow such a wonderful book with another that is equally good, and The Mermaid Chair does not even come close. Some of the characters were so unbelievable that I could not finish this book. For example, one of the lead characters is a lawyer turned Monk! I have worked most of my life for lawyers and do not know one who would have opted to become a Monk, no matter what tragedies in life may have occurred. Worse yet, I don't know any lawyers who would have been accepted into the Monkhood! Brother Thomas meets Jessie (the female lead) when her mother deliberately chops off one of her own fingers, and is found carrying it in a mayonnaise jar through the monastery garden to bury it. This is how Jessie meets the Monk. This is so unbelievable that nothing else matters after that. I hope Ms. Kidd comes back down to earth before attempting a 3rd novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    Don't get me wrong... the book was well written but I thought after the 'masterpiece' of Secret Life of Bees, this would be better. The only part that captivated my attention was the last 3 chapters..... Sorry, but I wouldn't recommend this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    ¿The Mermaid Chair¿ is so boring, I only have 2 more chapters left to read and I can hardly bear to pick the book back up. I find it difficult to relate to the protagonist, Jessie. Maybe its because I¿m not a middle aged housewife, but is this the life I get to look forward to in 20 years? She is 'dissatisfied' with her marriage and she instantly falls in love with the first man she lays eyes on. First of all, I don¿t understand why Jessie was so unhappy in her marriage. The author did not describe Jessie¿s unhappiness in any tangible way and because of this I couldn¿t understand her at all, instead I lost all respect for her. Seems like her husband Hugh is a decent guy who loves his wife, I cant believe Jessie could throw away 20 years of marriage for a fling like that. I feel like Jessie was having a mid-life crisis or something. She behaved selfishly. She should have been on the island helping her mother with her mental state¿instead she was having a weird affair with a monk that she supposedly loved, even though they barely know each other...I doubt their love will ever come of anything, but I'll have to wait and finish the book first. And the storyline about the Mermaid Chair and St. Senara didn¿t tie well into the plot at all. Basically, I was just really bored and annoyed with this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2006

    Ummm..........when does it start?

    Maybe it's because I'm 21 and can't relate with the whole 'midlife housewife crisis' thing, but this story was Blah. It was slow. The thing with her mother and how her father died was good/ Maybe if Kidd had stuck to investigating that rather than all the Monk stuff it would have been a more entertaining read. I read it only because 'bees' was so awesome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2006

    Too Boring

    This book drags on and on in the middle section, turning into a dull romance that I wasn't interested in. Luckily, the ending makes some good points and makes you think. All in all it's a very tedious read that I won't recommend because I'm sure you can find empowering messages in other books that will take a lot less work to read (for example, Sue Monk Kidd's first book: 'The Secret Life of Bees').

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2006

    not so great

    I read and loved Secret Life of Bees and thought that it would make a good movie. Then I was happy to find out that Monk wrote another book, but was sadly disappointed and was frankly bored with the book. I haven't recommended it to my friends. Looks like they made the wrong book into a movie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore

    I had read favorable reviews of this book and really wanted to like it. However, these cardboard paper doll characters kept heading into one cliched situation after another. Long before Jessie holds her little ceremony in the waves, I had come to the conclusion that this trite feminist fable simply would not wash. I can't identify with, respect, or even like Jessie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2005

    I too was dissappointed

    The story just wasn't very good. The author seemed to take you to illogical places, the story line was predictable, the ending improbable and incomplete. Nothing going on the the book until about the mid point and by then I decided I could predict what was going to occur. Wish the author had explored the 'I am an Independent Woman' struggle with more intelligence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2005

    booooring!

    i was very excited to read kidd's next book because i loved secret life of bees. this was like a book you'd pick up in the grocery store with fabio on the cover. come on, an affair with a monk!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    Why the hype?

    I was very disappointed in this book, as it had been suggested by a friend as a wonderful read. One does not always have to like the protagonist, but she should at least be interesting. I couldn't connect with her in the beginning, and came to tire of her quickly. The background story is okay, but not that compelling. Not well-written, in my opinion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2005

    Disappointing

    Having read Secret Life of Bees, I looked forward to this book. However, what a disappointment. None of the characters were sympathetic, especially the main characters. I finally said ENOUGH, and did not finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2005

    Disappointing

    I was extremely disappointedd by the author's newest effort. I have enjoyed her past articles and books. This story was just not believable. Someone's mother cuts off her finger and no one thinks this self destructive act is worthy of psychiatric intervention? I am aware of Sue's interest in the feminine divine. This so-called saint's story is a little too strange for my tastes. I was disappointed that the heroine was so tentative and unassertive in questioning the monks and everyone else about the background of her mother's strange act. Pass this one by!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2005

    Disappointed

    What a disappointment. Nothing happends until 3/4 of the way through the book with a weak ending. The story is written like an overview with way too many analogies. I couldn't wait for it to be finished. The only reason I read all of it is so that I could give an honest opinion of the book to the friend who loaned it to me. Didn't the author have an editor?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2005

    VERY DISAPPOINTED

    I loved The Secret Life of Bees and could not wait to read The Mermaid Chair. I hate to say that I am sorely disappointed. I just never really got the point of the book. I thought it was very weird, almost bizarre. Her first book was so beautiful and this one just does not hold a candle to it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    Disappointing Follow-Up To Secret Life of Bees

    I loved Secret Life of Bees and looked forward to reading her second book. Although it was an engaging read, I was quite disappointed in the banal plot. To me it was The Bridges of Madison County meet The Thornbirds. Come on Sue, you can do better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2005

    'Bees' is so much better

    You can't even feel sympathetic for the main character, there seems to be no reason for her actions. There's also little character development of Jesse or Brother Thomas, so their romance seems very improbable. Similar themes as in Bees - worship of a female deity, guilt over a parental death, a mentally disabled character, a past mystery being unraveled, forbidden romance, references to remind you what time period the book takes place in. The book feels very forced and you're just glad to be done with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2005

    The Cover Is The Best Part

    As you have been told, you cannot judge a book by the cover. I was SOOOOO disappointed by this. I love her husband's work, but hers needs much more character and plot development.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    Disappointed

    I was very disappointed in this book, as I had expected something as powerful as 'Secret Life of Bees'. As I read along, I kept wondering if I was missing some symbolism or something because I found it boring and amateurish. I felt it read more like a cheap romance novel. I have read others' reviews just to see if it was 'only me' ... but apparently it wasn't. Bummer.

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