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The Mermaids Singing

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,783 Ratings  ·  225 Reviews
There is an island off the west coast of Ireand called Inis Muruch--the island of the Mermaids--a world where myth is more powerful than truth, and where death is never as strong as the redemptive powers of family and love. It is here that Lisa Carey sets her lyrical and sensual first novel, weaving together the voices and lives of three generations of Irish and Irish-Amer ...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Avon (first published January 1st 1998)
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(showing 1-30)
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Apr 17, 2013 Al rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Three generations of unreasonably angst-filled women have unprotected sex.

Oct 16, 2010 Jeanine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(2.5 stars) I had a VERY hard time digesting the women in this novel. Three generations of women all making the same self-destructive mistakes, all unlikable, ornery, selfish and stubborn to the point of hurting themselves. I could not believe they had men who not only loved them, but pined for them. Seriously? They were all so darned MEAN that I can see why they never had friends, but men loved them? And the step-sister who absolutely loved Grace, and Grace tells her repeatedly that she hates h ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Mermaids Singing" is the perfect book for women who have difficult relationships with their mothers because it shows through multiple perspectives--grandmother, mother, and daughter--just how much misunderstanding happens between perfectly well meaning but damaged and lonely generations of women, so it was great bibliotherapy. However, that is not why I read it, because my mother and I have a pretty good relationship with no drama (and boy did "The Mermaids Singing" remind me of how much I ...more
May 22, 2009 Tory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of mothers and daughters, their differences and their likeness... a story of family.

I was hesitant to read it, as the mother/daughter relationship, and all the cliche's that go with it, is a relationship I'm hesitant to explore too much. Am not usually a fan.

But I liked this one a lot. I liked the characters, I liked the lyrical writing style. And contrary to some of the other reviews, I didn't think that the sex was unnecessary... I think novels that truly expand on the sexuality of
M Strawberry Reviews
This book isn't really about mermaids, so be forewarned. It's more of a 'chick lit' book (perfect for those of you who like chick lit) and it was a book I really enjoyed. It's interesting to see the relationships between mom and daughter (Cliona/Grace, Grace/Grainne) as well as grandmother and granddaughter, and adding a bit of Irish myth (of Grainne) added a great touch to the story. The writing itself is overall solid and enjoyable, narrated in a fairly smooth style from all three women's poin ...more
Jun 05, 2010 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Curiously enough, this book reminds me of two of my most recent reads combined. Not only does the motif of mermaids persist in this, as it does with The Mermaid's Chair (completely unrelated to this book), but the concept of isolation and emergence works its way through in this book as well using the island as the main embodiment of both. Like Tan's novel, The Bonsetter's Daughter, this book builds upon the bonds and barriers created between three generations of women from their native land,howe ...more
Sierra Miller
I suppose it had great imagery and an interesting story, but for me it was ruined by how unlikeable the three main women are, particularly Grace, who is so selfish throughout the story it borders on being a sociopath.
Beautifully written debut. Haunting, intense, and lyrical all at the same time. Although a short book, I found myself only able to read it in short bursts.

I would definitely recommend it for those who like sad, intense stories.
Nov 18, 2015 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 10-cent-sale
Yeah I am going to be polite and refuse to review this one.
Jan 14, 2010 Elena rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's very acclaimed but I couldn't stand it. All the characters did is sleep around. I didn't like it.
Dec 02, 2008 Antof9 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2007-read
Read the majority of this while "decking" (enjoying the sun on our back deck with wandererjen.

I both liked and didn't like it. I loved the Irish-ness of it. Loved the musical language, the names I memorized to pronounce correctly (and now can't spell without looking because they aren't spelled like they sound), and I loved all the beach descriptions. Could almost make me wish I lived near water, instead of mountains. Almost, but not quite :)

But there was an awful lot of angst-filled sex in this
If only we daughters knew our mother's whole story and our daughters knew our whole story, would those daughters understand the mothers when they are in their difficult teens? On the other hand, maybe its best that mothers remain mothers with their own unknown past. This book tells the story of a grandmother, mother, and daughter. It has a lot of rebellious teen anxst in it, some of which is justified. For instance, losing a mother with whom one is close can explain a lot of self-destructive beh ...more
Alexandra Consolver
4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy generational family stories, complicated mother-daughter dynamics, and coming of age themes.

This book follows the complicated history of three women; a mother, daughter, and grandmother. Cliona left Ireland for Boston in the 1960's. She raised her daughter Grace in the states, and she grew into a rebellious girl. When Grace is taken back to the island where her mother lived, her rebellion grows. She finds the island as cold as her mother's heart. Grainne, Grace
Jul 24, 2012 Kyli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the writing style in this book - it was lyrical and visual and it grabbed my attention right from the start. It was absolutely enchanting at times. I loved the Irish folklore that it included and how it was woven into the story itself. The geographic detail was impressive too and it allowed me to feel like I was really there.

After the loss of her mother (to cancer), Grainne is a scared, angry teenager seeking comfort in the wrong places. There is such heartbreak and pain in this s
Noémi Nadasdy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Told from the points of view of three women, daughter, mother, grandmother, I really thought this book would have been more than a quest to find love and meaning based on what a man can fill in. I was looking for more of a "what the women in my life mean to me" kind of book, and thought that there would be a story of healing from damaged mother-daughter relationships over three generations of Irish women.

Instead, what I found was yet another story of the people who lost someone to cancer and how
Mar 12, 2010 Rochelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book about mothers and daughters, and the relationships between them and the rest of the world. At the center of it is Grace, a self-centered woman who makes decisions without considering the effect on other people. Grace tells her daughter, Gráinne, that it's just them, when in reality, Grace left home in the dark of night leaving her mother and husband. Grace uses her body to make men do what she wants, and Gráinne even tries it to prevent being sent away.
It was a very interesting b
Sep 10, 2009 Tanni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay here is another one I could not finish. I thought this would be great. It is set in Ireland (love Ireland) it is about mothers and daughters (hello?). But she uses the F word too much and the coming of age discovering your own sexuality alone and with others is way to graphic and leaves no room for the imagination. It is very pornagraphic in the way she uses her vocabulary. To say the least I was very disappointed. I got about 1/3 the way through.
Julie Laumark
Oct 30, 2011 Julie Laumark rated it it was amazing
This book drew me in with it's opening sentence. I enjoyed it's lyrical language, the story of the of 3 generations of women from the same family, the sensuality, & the struggles between Mothers & their Daughters. Most of all what I will take from this book is the definitions of home & family; how personal & different for every individual. I could almost hear the mermaids singing; calling me back to the home of my ancestors & I felt a deep longing for the shores of Innis Muru ...more
Apr 07, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. Some other people said it had too much sex that wasn't important to the story. But I disagree, there wasn't too much sex and it was important. I liked how the story was told from the granda, daughter, and granddaughter to put it all together.
Jun 17, 2010 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very touching book about mother/daughter relationships and how they can be so misunderstood. I really liked the book and the setting.
Paulette Gauthier
Oct 25, 2016 Paulette Gauthier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was very well written and makes me want to visit Ireland and see some mermaids.
Mar 10, 2017 Wanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A novel of angry women. Not sure why I continued to read it except I kept hoping one would find happiness.
Jan 30, 2017 Imani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm always one for books about Mermaids and anything set in Ireland or based on Irish lore.
This book didn't have the fantasy of Mermaids and getting to explore a new but ancient world under the sea, but the three women I read from, gave me all the imagination I needed to glide through this story like an Olympic Swimmer through water.
The language and the way this story was written is enchanting and smooth. The three women - each a different generation - had a beautiful tale cycling (unbeknownst
Jan 22, 2017 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magical-realism, 2017
Carey has a delightful and engaging writing style. I've read one other book of hers and loved it. This one was in some ways easier and harder to like. Two of the characters, Grace and Gráinne, are highly unsympathetic. I found them both obnoxious, particularly Grace, who apparently never grew past pouty teenager brat stage of her life. But somehow I still wanted to keep reading. It's not a book that'll make my list of favorites because of the annoying qualities of 2/3 of the main characters. I d ...more
Erica Castellanos
Mar 12, 2017 Erica Castellanos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fairly enchanting, as so many books that involve Ireland can be. The writing is superb. Carey's "well-played" use of the mystique of a land so steeped already in mystery, to this American eye and mind, was refreshing. In addition to being simply a good read, it builds to powerful conclusions that gave me some pause. What I found most haunting was to see the interplay of same/different forces in the trajectory of the character's lives. One is reminded of how almost stupidly easy ...more
Oct 01, 2016 MLD rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the story line of mothers and teenage daughter adolescence. Keeping track of the time lines was a bit tricky due to the similarities of the mom/daughters, but it all tied together nicely.
Sep 10, 2009 Jacqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
“The Mermaids Singing” by Lisa Carey starts slow. Three women of different generations, Cliona, Grace and Grainne, provide the focus for this winding tale that switches between various points of view and points in time. By the fifth chapter, I was hooked and not wanting to pause for other things between chapters.

Lisa Carey’s first strength is an excellent portrayal of sensuality and sexuality. Her description of lust describes perfectly the feeling of intense longing brought about by that rush
Jessica Kovach
Three generations of mothers and daughters trying to survive and force life to to bend to their own demands while ultimately making mistakes that have far reaching consequences makes for a very good read in my mind.

I thoroughly enjoyed the complexities of the three entwined stories of three passionate women trying to wend their way through struggles, hardships, betrayal, misconceptions, misunderstandings, loneliness, grief and loss. Love and honesty did not come easily to any of these women who
Sep 15, 2009 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything
When I first started reading the Mermaids Singing, I would never have guessed that I would end up liking it so much. Out of the three generations of characters that the story revolves around, I didn't start out liking either the mother, Grace, or the daughter, Grainne. Only my interest in the grandmother, Cliona (and later on, the father, Seamus) kept me reading the book. And I am grateful that it did.

At the end of the day, I really enjoyed the story and came to like or accept each of the chara
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Lisa Carey was born in 1970 in Boston, Massachusetts to Irish-American parents. She grew up in Brookline and later moved with her family to Hingham, Massachusetts.

She attended Boston College and received a B.A. in English and Philosophy in 1992.

Pursuing her MFA in Writing, she took a semester off and lived in Inishbofin, Ireland for six months. There, Carey began her first novel, The Mermaids Sin
More about Lisa Carey...

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