9780143036692

The Mermaid Chair

Kidd, Sue Monk

ISBN 10: 0143036696 / 0-14-303669-6
ISBN 13: 9780143036692
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 2006
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
The New York Times–bestselling second novel by the author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings (Viking, January 2014)

Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.

When Jessie Sullivan is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother’s seemingly inexplicable behavior, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh, a life “molded to the smallest space possible.” Jessie loves Hugh, but once on the island, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk about to take his final vows. Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and majestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage.

Is the power of the mermaid chair only a myth? Or will it alter the course of Jessie’s life? What happens will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, it will allow Jessie to comes discover selfhood and a place of belonging as she explores the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic.

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

Review

Review:
"Book clubs, start your engines. . . . [ The Mermaid Chair] is a tapestry strengthened by bonds between women that bridge pain and loss."
—USA Today

"The pages all but turn themselves."
—Parade

"Soulful in its probing of the human heart."
—San Francisco Chronicle

"Kidd draws connections from the feminine to the divine to the erotic that a lesser writer wouldn’t see, and might not have the guts to follow."
—Time

"It’s hard to put this book down for things like eating and sleeping."
—Elle

From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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Book Description: Penguin Books, United States, 2006. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 196 x 132 mm. Brand New Book. Jessie Sullivan has been married half her life, and has become accustomed to her role. But when she returns to the isolated island she grew up on to establish why her mother has been behaving oddly, she is to find a lot more than she came looking for. Bookseller Inventory # ABZ9780143036692

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