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The Mermaid Chair [Kindle Edition]

Sue Monk Kidd
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
Kindle Price: £5.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

The No. 1 New York Times bestseller - 'Highly charged... full of sexual and spiritual desire. Every bit as moving and convincing as The Secret Life of Bees' Mirror

In her forties, and married for half her life, Jessie Sullivan honestly believes that she is happy. She has a lovely home, a dependable husband and an accomplished and adored teenage daughter. But when shocking news about her mother compels Jessie to visit the island where she grew up, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk on the verge of taking his final vows.

Amidst the seductive beauty of the South Carolina salt marshes, Jessie is torn between powerful new longings and her enduring marriage. After all these years she is finally beginning to understand who she really is and where she belongs. But she has still to discover how much of her old life has a place in the new one.

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Product Description


'Sex, an eccentric cast and flashes of the black humour lighten a mid-life meditation on the nature of love, loss and redemption' (Scotsman)

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

Her writing is so smart and sharp, she gives new life to old midlife crises, and she 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)

Emotionally rich... full of sultry, magical descriptions of life in the South... sure to be another hit for Kidd (Publishers Weekly)

Compelling reading.... The writing is soulful in its probing of the human heart and family secrets (San Francisco Chronicle)

It's hard to put this book down for little things like sleeping and eating (Elle)

The Big Issue (North)

'Impulse, excitement and the anticipation swell within Kidd's prose which is magical, imaginative and effortless'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1172 KB
  • Print Length: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Review; New Ed edition (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00590YJ0S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,710 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK SPOKE TO ME... 18 Jun. 2008
This is the story of a woman's re-awakening of self. It is the story of forty-two year old Jessie Sullivan, a woman who has sublimated herself throughout her married life to her husband and her daughter. Now that her daughter is going away to college, empty nest syndrome looms on the horizon, along with a somewhat stagnant marriage. When she returns to her childhood home to attend to her aging mother who has done something unthinkable, it is Jessie who then does the unthinkable.

On the island where she grew up, Egret Island, her deeply religious mother remains uncommunicative about having intentionally severed one of her fingers. Her mother, a cook for the Benedictine monastery on the Island, will simply not discuss the reasons why she engaged in such a violent act of self-mutilation, and Jessie suspects that it has something to do with the death of Jessie's beloved father who died when she was nine. Jessie had always felt tremendous guilt and sadness regarding her father's death, as he purportedly died while on his fishing boat, which exploded when a spark from a pipe Jessie had given him as a gift had ignited a faulty gas line.

While back on Egret Island, Jessie, pondering her mother's situation as well as her own growing discontent and dissatisfaction with her life, runs into Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk battling his own internal demons and personal crisis. When these two lost souls come together, an illicit affair is begun, and Jessie embarks on such a surprising voyage of personal self-discovery that even she does not know how it will all end. When her husband, Hugh, a psychiatrist and no dummy, comes to the island, he pretty much figures out what is going on. He returns home, only to realize the reality of what actually has happened.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facing the Unknown 11 May 2005
In my opinion "The Mermaid Chair" is about the unknown. The title comes from (in the story) an ornately carved chair (carved with mermaid designs) that is dedicated to a church saint was actually a mermaid before a conversion (at least according to legend). The crux of the story is about the search for the unknown that drives us in life. There is an unknown that has tormented Jessie Sullivan's mother to act out in violence and bring Jessie back to her childhood home to care for her. There is the unknown of why happily married Jessie is mysteriously drawn to a monk on the verge of taking his vows. There is the unknown of what makes one yearn for a soul mate. The second novel from Sue Monk Kidd following her stunning debut "The Secret Life of Bees", "The Mermaid Chair" is an exquisite example of storytelling in its finest form along the lines of "Life of Pi", "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time", "My Fractured Life", and "Kite Runner."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why would someone cut the top off their finger? 18 Jun. 2006
By DubaiReader VINE VOICE
The question at the centre of this book is just that, why did Nelle Sullivan cut off the top of her finger?

Her daughter Jessie is a typical middle aged mother, happily married, with a daughter in college. Her husband is a psychiatrist, very useful under the circumstances.

When Jessie hears news of her mother's exploits, she returns to Egret Island, off the coast of South Carolina. This is the island of her childhood, but it's been many years since her last, unsuccessful visit.

Her return opens up buried emotions surrounding her relationship with her mother and the death of her father over 30years before.

The Mermaid Chair is an old monk's chair in the Benedictine Monastry on the island, where Nelle is cook and

as Jessie becomes attracted to a monk who has yet to take his vows, the tensions start to rise.

I really enjoyed this book, especially Nelle's eccentric friends, who reminded me of the characters in "The Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells.

Unfortunately, "The Secret Life of Bees" was a hard act to follow and inevitably comparisons are made. "The Mermaid's Chair" falls below these high expectations, but still 4 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortably saccharine 10 Jun. 2015
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Jessie is a middle-aged artist having a mid-life crisis, who is bored with her sturdy husband Hugh, a gentle psychiatrist (or psychologist, Monk Kidd doesn't seem sure). Jessie's mother is having a spiritual crisis which has caused her to amputate one of her own fingers. Brother Thomas is a monk living in a community by the shore near Jessie's mother's home. Once, as lawyer Whit O'Connor, Brother Thomas had everything - then he lost his wife and child in a car crash. He was drawn to the spiritual life as he believed he'd never love again, but he's increasingly tormented by thoughts of sex. When he meets Jessie, who has come to care for her mother (leaving Hugh behind) the sexual tension mounts to an unbearable level, culminating in the couple's intense meetings in a cave by the sea to have passionate sex. Will Brother Thomas renounce his God? Will Jessie leave her husband? Will her mother start self-harming again? Did I care?

Frankly I did not! The sanctimonious, sugary tone of the novel, the awful cliched way in which most of the characters spoke (reminiscent of self-help books), Jessie's utter selfishness, Whit/Thomas's utter self-preoccupation and the trivial depiction of religious orders got me pretty annoyed from early on. Any discussion of religion (ironically the reason I'd bought the book, when I spotted a reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer) was carried out at the most basic and sentimental level. Nor were the characters' conflicted emotions portrayed with any depth. I didn't believe in the mother's decision to cut off bits of herself - particularly when we finally got the reason, which of course went Back To Jessie's Childhood, and provided our heroine with an absolution for past feelings of guilt. Jessie and Brother Thomas's relationship read like a cheap romance novel.
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