The Mermaid Chair: A Novel
by Sue Monk Kidd
Hardcover- $12.99

Sue Monk Kidd’s stunning debut, The Secret Life of Bees, has transformed her into a genuine literary star. Now, in her much-anticipated ...

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  "Not particularly enjoyable to read since the characters made such poor choices, but interesting to discuss. Some book club members quit reading the book part way through because of frustration. Othe" by bskaat (see profile) 03/15/06

"The Mermaid Chair" was a dissapointment after reading "Secret Life of Bees". Whereas the characters in SLB were pulling together to help one another and were striving to do their best in a difficult world, the ones in TMC gave in to temtation very quickly and communicated with one another so poorly that it was difficult to understand their choices. They seemed to not really care about one another despite the fact that they professed caring. Their lack of respect for one another made it difficult for me, as the reader, to respect them and their choices. The mother her friends allowed the daughter to believe that the pipe she had given her father had caused his death in a fire even though they all knew otherwise. The daughter threw her relationship with her husband of many years with barely any explaination to him, the monk tossed aside his vows of celibacy to have sex with a MARRIED WOMAN... all of these choices were difficult for me, as the reader, to accept as coming from loving people. But we were expected to believe that these good people would have really done these things? Perhaps they would have, but the characters as they were portrayed were not believable in these choices.

 
  "Conjured deep thought and soul searching" by harleymumof2 (see profile) 03/15/06

While I liked The Secret Life of Bees better, this was still an enchanting book that made me want to understand the characters better. I could see how some might be put off by the choices that the characters in the book made ... however, what was realistic for me was Jessie's feelings for Brother Thomas ... how you can long for a soul mate that literally completes your journey on this Earth. I could relate to her emotions and feelings around dealing with her mentally ill mother as well. She faced difficult situations which called for her to make difficult choices. The story of The Mermaid Chair was filled with deep meaning to the characters and I wanted to hear more about their lives. I recommend this book - the subjects for discussion in this book are plenty.

 
  "not as good as" by yirple (see profile) 04/21/06

i really enjoyed this book and although the characters were well-drawn, i don't think that they were as particularly interesting as those in The Secret Life of Bees. yes, the choices they made were not of the utmost in moral character, but if you want to read a book where all the characters are good and they all make good choices i would recommend something in the children's genre. although this was a work of fiction, it was about "real" people and i found most of their choices to be true to who they were, even if they were objectionable. the Jessie/Brother Thomas "dance" felt a little too romeo and juliet to me at times--the parts about how they were falling for each other seemed a litle fluffy. as far as the whole Nelle (and the other "adults") lying business, i suppose she (they) was trying not to hurt her (Nelle's)children further, and if you find that hard to believe you obviously did not grow up in a family that believes if you don't talk about things they didn't really happen (as my husband did). denial does wonderful things for some people's peace of mind--obviously not the case for Nelle, but again, this was a work of fiction (LOL)....

 
  "Best thing about this book were the island descriptions...." by MississippiMom (see profile) 06/20/06

As far as the storyline goes, I didn't enjoy this one at all... The whole falling in love with the monk turned me off from the beginning... and I'm not even Catholic.

Jessie and Whit not only were cheating on husband and God, but I believe they were cheating each other too. I think the sneaking around to meet one another was a dead give-away that what they were doing was wrong. I agree with some of the other readers who rated this book.. poor choices was the theme of this book.

I would like to visit the east coast islands after reading some of the descriptions of island wildlife...

 
  "A disappointing read after reading The Secret Life of Bees." by Jasper (see profile) 07/16/06

Even though the book started slow and did not capture my interest quickly, I did like the story. But didn't agree with some of the choices that were made by Jessie, her family and "friends". The choices that the charters made do indeed make for interesting discussions.

 
  "Ludicrous" by page55 (see profile) 10/04/06

The author did a great job creating a self-centered, shallow character (Jessie) for which I had absolutely no sympathy or empathy for. Couple that with some completely absurd and ridiculously bogus legends and plants and, well . . . you get the idea. I liked her first book, The Secret Life of Bees, though. I have to say that the whole idea of marrying yourself was also idiotic - what the author was trying to say could have been demonstrated in a much more plausible manner.

 
  "Not as good as the author's first novel, the Secret LIves of Bees" by louisedroz (see profile) 10/13/06

After reading Ms. Kidd's first novel, I was disapointed in this book. The characters just didn't have the depth that I had hoped for and I had a hard time finding much to discuss at my book club meeting.

 
  "A book you will forget as soon as you read the last page ." by mhender (see profile) 10/15/06

After The Secret Life of Bees this book was very disapointing. I had to force myself to finish it as I was not very interested in the outcome.

 
  "too predictable, a disappointment after the "Bees"" by PEP2312 (see profile) 10/16/06

After reading, "Life of Bees", I very much anticipated "The Mermaids Chair".What a disappointment that this book was so predictable and plodding. I felt no sympathy or connection with the characters. a

 
  "This book is easy reading and I enjoyed the depth" by Kathy E. (see profile) 12/29/06

I really enjoy reading Sue Monk Kidd's books. They all touch a side of humanity that doesn't really seem to exist anymore.

 
  "No likeable characters." by Hayley (see profile) 01/19/07

 
  "rather disappointing after Secret Life of Bees" by kennamom (see profile) 03/07/07

 
  "Poetic and thoughtful, The Mermaid Chair is sure to spark conversation on the topics of everything from adultery to religious faith." by CGraham (see profile) 04/11/07

While I find some parts of Sue Monk Kidd's writing to be a bit indulgent with forced prose and detail, I also agree that this is allowable for how transferrable her characters are to all of "us" and outwayed by the poignient thoughts and images. I feel that there could have been a little more time spent on the initial attraction between Whit and Jessie- it seemed that they met and fell in love too quickly- either that or the elapsed time was not represented correctly. The genesis of their affection did not seem realistic. I will submit that there were some wonderful lines that I will never forget used in this book- one that I will keep close to my heart is, "God is something whose center is everywhere but circumferance is no where". Whoa.

 
  "ok, but not as good as "Bees"" by quiettime (see profile) 05/17/07

I liked the South Carolina coastal island setting. I liked the friendship and history among the mother and her two friends. I liked the background story of the daughter coming to terms with her mother's mental illness, and with her father's death. However, her relationship with her husband, her mid-life crisis, and her relationship with the monk did nothing, to me, to improve the story. Just not as compelling a read as "Secret Life of Bees."

 
  "Quite a Disappointment" by azuki (see profile) 07/18/07

I didn't read Secret Lives of Bees but due to all the hype I picked this one up. Story is not exactly bad, just isn't captivating and not what I would call exceptional, compare to tons of fictions out there.

 
  "Good book!" by jendicus (see profile) 07/20/07

Not as good as The Secret Life of Bees, but an excellent book just as well. Full of imagery like Bees.

 
  "Interesting look into what can go wrong in a marriage" by egibson129 (see profile) 11/16/07

I really liked this book. I thought it did a great job conveying the conflicting thoughts and emotions that a person goes through when trying to "find" their own identity in a stale marriage. Our club members all thought that the book should have been longer so that some of the story lines could have been more fully developed.

 
  "The Mermaid Chair" by allisonsacres (see profile) 07/29/09

I was disappointed after reading Secret Life of Bees. Why does a mid-life crisis story always have to involve and affair? Why couldn't she come through her metamophosis through her artwork? I think the mother's story would have been more interesting. The depths of depression her mother sank to and how she finally came to understand the truth, accept, and come out of her depression. Her daughter's story should have been the byline. I did enjoy the fictional myth of the mermaid chair.

 
  "Blah......" by regpita (see profile) 02/02/10

Story is contrived and uninteresting. It started ok - everyone wants to escape their life at some point, but it just went downhill from there.

 
  "Good book....." by Jess28 (see profile) 06/25/12

After reading the reviews on this book..i was sure i was going to hate it and not be able to finish...but i was completely surprised to find i actually enjoyed it. Yes the book is NOTHING like "The secret lives of bees".So what? Something in the book resonated with me...maybe trying to find yourself after being "meshed" with someone for so long. Maybe wanting something that you know you can't have...or shouldn't have. I could relate to Jessie..maybe not in the adulterous way..but trying to find something that makes you feel alive. That makes you want to wake up every morning and actually LIVE. So YES i would reccomend this to a book club...i believe there would be wonderful discussions to be had from reading this book. Just because it was nothing like the authors first book does not..to me...qualify it as a horrible book. I say read on!

 
  "Tried too hard to combine too many elements" by Shannoncj (see profile) 10/01/13

I recommend this book for a club because it was fun to talk about all that could have been better. There were too many typical elements: magical negro, mother/daughter conflict, marriage conflict (for no real point), magical/mystical story line, dead father, monks, psychic dog, psychic child, ya-ya sisterhood friendship, etc etc. It tried to introduce so many elements but did none well. It \\\"told\\\" us stuff but didn\\\'t \\\"show\\\" us anything. None of us particulary liked the book but it did lead to lots of good discussion.

 
  "The Mermaid Chair: A Novel" by Deemann11 (see profile) 07/21/14

The author, Sue Monk Kidd, is a good writer. Her stories are easy to follow. This book made "Google" to learn more about the plant "dead finger" and information on Mermaid's chairs.

 
  "Great discussion." by teatime (see profile) 06/15/16

Nice discussion on this story. Very different from her other novel.

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