The Mermaid Chair – Sue Monk Kidd

The Mermaid Chair

I chose this book specifically for the Southern Reading challenge. I hadn’t heard of it before but recognised the author from The Secret Life of Bees which I haven’t read but did half watch the movie on a flight last year and enjoyed it.

Jessie is 42 years old, married with one grown up daughter who has recently left home to go to university. Her husband Hugh is a respected psychiatrist, capable both at work and at home. A good husband. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for his character whose only fault seemed to be that he was too accomplished and competent. Jessie is an artist, a painter, although she hasn’t painted much of late and is feeling a vague sense of disatisfaction with her life. She can’t put her finger on why but attributes it to her daughter recently leaving home perhaps.

Jessie was born and raised on the fictional island of Egret. Sue Monk Kidd based Egret Island on the real life Bull Island in South Carolina and does a lovely job of portraying the island with it’s numerous birds and wildlife living in a protected sanctuary. Jessie growing up, was more aware of the sense of isolation living on an island accessible only by ferry. This, combined with the early death of her father in an accident she feels responsible for, means she hasn’t been back to Egret Island and to her mother who still lives there in a fragile mental stage, for many years.

She then receives news that her mother is unwell and has deliberately chopped off one of her fingers. Jessie returns to the island to try and help her mother and to face her childhood demons. There is a monastry on the island, Jessie finds herself attracted to Brother Thomas, the youngest of the monks, who is soon to take his final vows. The attraction is mutual.

This story is one of self discovery and reclaimation, reconnecting with roots, mending broken relationships and learning to forgive. I really like Sue Monk Kidd’s gentle writing style, and I enjoyed the traditions and myths that were weaved into the story.

Published:
2006
Pages: 416
Challenges: Southern Reading, Support your local library

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7 responses to “The Mermaid Chair – Sue Monk Kidd

  1. I enjoyed reading Secret Life of Bees. But I could not get into this book. I am glad you enjoyed her writing style.

  2. Susan – thank you. It’s good to get a different perspective. I think I will try Secret Life of Bees at some stage.

  3. Glad to see you enjoyed this one, as I bought it a while ago at a library sale but haven’t read it yet. I hope you get a chance to read The Secret Life of Bees. I read that book several years ago and remember really enjoying it.

  4. I also read this for the Southern Challenge, if it hadn’t been for the challenge it would have sat on the tbr pile for ages. I enjoyed the read but was’t blown away by it, just a good simple story.

  5. Katrina – I agree. A good simple story is a nice way of describing it. I will pop over and see what else you read as I still have one to go for this challenge (leaving it to the last minute)!

  6. Thanks Anna – I think I will read The Secret Life of Bees at some point – not sure when – maybe for the Southern Reading challenge next year!

  7. Very good text. I’ve found your site via Google and I’m really happy about the information you provide in your articles. Btw your sites layout is really messed up on the Chrome browser. Would be great if you could fix that. Anyhow keep up the good work!

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