Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on tiny 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.
Jessie Sullivan's conventional life has been "molded to the smallest space possible." So when she is called home to cope with her mother's startling and enigmatic act of violence, Jessie finds herself relieved to be apart from her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but on Egret Island amid the gorgeous marshlands and tidal creeksshe becomes drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is mere months from taking his final vows. What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother's tormented past, but most of all, as Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, she will find a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right.
What inspires the yearning for a soul mate? Few writers have explored, as Kidd does, the lush, unknown region of the feminine soul where the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic exists. The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body; one that illuminates a woman's self-awakening with the brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd's ability could conjure....Continua
I actually cried at the ending of this book. It was well written and very interesting. I felt like I had to know how it ended so I stayed up until 1 AM last night reading it! I wasn't disappointed. Surprised, but not disappointed. Recommended!...Continua
A mostly run-of-the-mill story about a middle-aged woman looking for herself. Overall it's not a bad story but it lacks the memorable characters and magic that made The Secret Life of Bees a favorite, and it sports a rather unsatisfactory (but safe) ending....Continua
I don't know where to start to say all the things that sound wrong in this novel...
First of all, the names of the characters.
I felt an immediate antipathy for this grown-up woman who is still called Jessie by friends and relatives. I mean, Jessie????
Are you a teenage girl or a 42 years woman with a daughter attending college?
And then, Whitney. Wasn't it a female name?
Not to mention Benne and Hepzibah. Was the author smoking crack all the way through the process of writing this book?
Point B: the characters. Jessie is incredibly self-centred and immature; as for her husband, I cannot really picture anyone finding some silly song about Freud incredibly amusing, enough to laugh at it for a whole hour!
Give me a break.
And Hepzibah. I have the greatest respect for African Americans, and they have my whole support as a minority in a difficult society such as the American one.
Nonetheless I can't help but thinking that wearing like an African and converting to Islam doesn't make you a real African nor makes you closer to your supposed brothers in that continent.
Seen from here, people like Hepzibah seem only to be toying with the idea of being Africans as opposed to being Americans.
And so is she with her clothes and her gullah sentences.
Going back to the book.
The plot: a married woman with a middle age crisis who falls in love with a priest. Nothing that we haven't already read in a cheap romance or a women's fiction book.
The religious obsession of the mother is the only one thing that kept me reading this novel, giving it a touch of interest.
As for the stress on religion, I understand American society is living a kind of religious euphoria during these last years, and while Catholic guilt feelings can be interesting once, when it gets to be a constant issue for an author, like in Kidd's case, it starts to be boring, at least for me.
And, last but not least, the writing.
"You can't stop your heart from loving, really - it's like standing out there in the ocean yelling at the waves to stop"
"I stepped out of them and stood in my light blue panties and matching bra and let him stare at me"
"I wanted to go and slide my arms around him, press my face against his back, say, It's okay, it is. We were meant for this (...)"
Sentences like these made me really want to throw the book out of the train's window while going to work...
I'm so disappointed by this novel. I had enjoyed Kidd's first book as a good summer reading, but The mermaid chair is one of the most irritating books I have ever read. What a pity that a decent debut doesn't make a good writer!...Continua