Customer Reviews for

The Mermaid Chair

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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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Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 66 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2006

    Couldn't put it down!

    This was our book club assignment and I couldn't put it down (laying poolside may have helped!) It was a page-turner the whole way through but I do understand some readers' disappointment in Jessie-but it IS fiction-meant to make you think. I did find it interesting that they used a Monk-Sue Monk Kidd?!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2006

    So Much More Than a Love Story

    I was surprised at the number of low ratings this book received. It is well-written with exceptional literary style. The symbolism and word choice continue to strike me days after I've finished reading the story. This is not simply a story of an unfaithful wife and the ramifications of her affair. When Jessie and Whit begin their affair, he tells her that they will both be ¿damned and saved.¿ Every character in the book experiences damnation and redemption. It is a story about the bonds of female friendship and the wrong paths that sometimes must be explored before the right paths are exposed. Kidd's word choices include 'a mote of silence surrounded me' and 'Having the opportunity we fled into laughter.' Exceptional.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2006

    I really enjoyed this book!

    I enjoyed Sue Monk Kidds latest novel. I enjoyed Jessie. I found her story both intriguing and tormented. I really loved the affair with the monk. It was a great balance between heaven and hell and it was written beautifully. Another great read from Kidd.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2005

    A JOURNEY OF DRAMA & HEALING

    I was intrigued by the whole story in this book. This was the first book I have read by Sue Monk Kidd and I loved it! I am looking forward to reading her other book, The Secret Life of Bees.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2005

    A lesson on forgiveness

    Not having read yet, 'The Secret Life of Bees' I can't compare the two. What I will say is this, I think this book is a wonderful example of the healing power of forgiveness and the power in finding yourself. There is a small twang of mystery to the book which I enjoyed and overall I considered it a very engaging read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2005

    A Soulful Journey

    I found this book to be a soulful journey into relationships, friendships, and the importance of spirituality. This book is a reminder to all women to never lose themselves and to embrace their strength. A must read...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2005

    Enjoyed it!

    I liked this book. I really became captivated in the serenity and the beauty of the island. I love Sue Monk Kidd's writing style. It's very visual. It's not the Secret Life of Bees, however, the Mermaid Chair showcases romance, betrayal, forgiveness, and love. I felt the novel was as beautiful as its cover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2005

    A Soul-Searching Read

    I loved 'The Secret Life of Bees' and Sue Monk Kidd has done it again with 'The 'Mermaid Chair'. Jessie is an artist (although she doesn't think her work is worthy of being called art) whose identity has been mainly 'Hugh's wife' or 'Dee's Mom' over the past twenty years of her life. It takes an extended stay with her eccentric and perhaps mentally unstable mother on the island where she grew up and an affair with a monk at the local monastery to eventually realize that she has a true identity within herself. How many of us forty-something women can relate to sense of self-loss and soul-searching for an identity outside of husband and family? A good read, especially for those of us who have raised our children and are at the point in our lives that it is time to discover ourselves again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2005

    Surprising

    I'm not the biggest fan of what you might call 'women's fiction'. However, I was really enchanted by this book. My wife MADE me read this saying 'Oh, it's sooooo good.' I finally read it, and she was right!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2005

    A Lovely Tale

    THis is a lovely,mystical tale of lost dreams and reconciling the present with the past. It is very romantic and also quite charming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2005

    I loved this book

    I'm surprised by so many negative reviews! You can't compare it to '...Bees'. I enjoyed this book immensely. Perhaps it's because I am going through a time in my life that mirrors the protagonist's. This past year has included cataclysmic changes regarding my future, and understanding & reordering my past. In order for me to do that, I had to find a safe person in whom I could project all my idealisms onto, just as our main character did with Brother Whit. In the end, I have been able to see that the things coveted in another were things I myself lacked. The book was a beautiful road map for me in learning to wed and make friends with myself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    Sue Monk Kidd does it again-amazing!

    Imagine the pressure of writing a second novel after the sucess of 'Secret Life of Bees'...well Sue Monk Kidd once again, does a wonderful job with 'The Mermaid Chair.' The characters are realistic, and the story weaves in so many aspects of life and relationships. I really enjoyed her second novel, as much as her first and highly recommend it. It is a great title for a book group to discuss. The main character, Jessie represents some of the issues many women struggle with, their own mothers, marriage, a child leaving for college... the questions faced when you realize unresoloved things need to be resolved, and often what you wonder about/wish for, you often already have and things do happen for a reason...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    Another facet of a complex writer

    If you liked the Secret Life of Bees, please understand that this book is entirely different. To understand the value of this novel you must remove yourself from the idea that writers will always create stories that are related to each other in style or content. This book must be viewed on its own or with works by other writers to understand the power in the words. Jessie Sullivan, the protagonist, is not a character all people will relate to, but the story surrounding her and her family portrays elements of social and political issues of today concerning all of society. To understand Jessie Sullivan is like understanding Kate Chopin's character, Edna Pontillier, in 'The Awakening.' Not everyone will see the human or the heroine in this character, but some, even those who have not been in the situation, will understand her completely. This is a book I would recommend to any woman, if only to more completely understand herself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2005

    Pretty good

    I did enjoy this book. Especially for the first half or so, it kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. It's not a really serious read, but still quite engaging. The Secret Life of Bees is better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2005

    WORTHY READING OF A STORY OF PASSION AND REDEMPTION

    Seldom does the reading world witness a debut as electrifying as Sue Monk Kidd's 'The Secret Life of Bees.' Enchanting, illuminating, that title spent some 80 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List, and sold more than three million copies. A tough act to follow? Not for this author. 'The Mermaid Chair' is a melange of spiritualism, desire, myth and loss. Set on Egret Island off the coast of South Carolina, the story revolves around Jessie, a woman at the crossroads. Happily married to Hugh, a psychiatrist, she is no longer young but, it seems, still a bit of a naif. Her mother, for some dark reason, has deliberately amputated one of her fingers, and Jessie returns to the Island to try to help the obviously troubled woman. Egret Island is not only Jessie's childhood home, but's also home to a Benedictine monastery that possesses the chair of the title. Ornately decorated with mermaids, the chair is said to be dedicated to a saint who was a mermaid before she joined the church. The chair isn't the only attraction in the monastery - the other is Brother Thomas. To compound matters further the sparks aren't just going in one direction - the two are drawn to each other. As Ms. Kidd reveals the turbulence in not only Jessie's mother but in Jessie and Brother Thomas, listeners are reminded of the mystery of human passions, both surrendered to and denied. Film and television actress Eliza Foss gives a worthy reading as she segues easily between the disparate voices. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2005

    Unless . . .

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you've either read of know about 'Secret Life of Bees.' Actually it would be hard to avoid it. And I read it and liked it well enough. So now comes 'Mermaid Chair.' I liked it also, though not as much as 'Bees.' While Monk's writing style has been compared to that of Jackson McCrae (think his 'Children's Corner') I prefer to think that she's in a class by herself. I suggest you try this book---it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's worth a shot.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    A Skilled Weaver

    Sue Monk Kidd is a skilled weaver. Taking seemingly disparate strands, she weaves them into a cohesive whole. These strands are many: a mid-life marriage, a brief but intense love affair, a decorative chair in an abbey where a monk is preparing for his solemn vows, trusted friendships, references to saints and an Inuit goddess, and, of course, a mother's violent reaction to an earlier trauma. Kidd is an avowed feminist and has a definite message. If she had chosen to travel about the country giving lectures on feminism, she may not have captivated audiences as successfully as she does in her novel. Even those who disagree with her premises can be drawn in, if only to enjoy her descriptions of the flora and the fauna of the islands off the coast of South Carolina and the culture and way of life of the area. Besides having the advantage of living in this beautiful spot, she has even done considerable research. Some writers of limited talent produce characters who are mere stick figures. Kidd succeeds in investing her characters with vibrancy and emotion. The reader's own feelings easily resonate with theirs. This quality propelled THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES to a place on best-seller lists for weeks and may do the same for THE MERMAID CHAIR.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2005

    Mermaid Chair

    I have never read The Secret Life of Bees, but after reading this book I can't wait! I found this story very thought provoking and an enjoyable read. The ending was fabulous and I found it very believable. This book reminds me of a quote by Anais Nin , 'We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2005

    I Liked It......

    It is a different genre from the Bee book, but the Mermaid book also has that little buzz of magical enchantment. And who knew that mermaids had so much mythology? And I loved the references to the color blue to keep away ghosts. In my part of the south, we called all those painted blue doors, H....aunt Blue, to keep away the haunts (ghosts). The storyline is interesting with all parties finding a deeper understanding of themselves. I really liked the combination of the story and research. Nice read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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