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The Mermaids Singing

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,486 ratings  ·  182 reviews
There is an island off the west coast of Ireland called Inis Murúch -- the Island of the Mermaids -- a world where myth is more powerful than truth, and love can overcome even death. 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-American women.
Years ago, the fierce and beau
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1998)
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Three generations of unreasonably angst-filled women have unprotected sex.

(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
"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
Delicious Strawberry
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
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
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
It's very acclaimed but I couldn't stand it. All the characters did is sleep around. I didn't like it.
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
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
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
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
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
Julie Laumark
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
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.
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.
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.
There is definitely a whiff of the fantastical in my friend Lisa Carey's first novel, and - not discounting the siren call of the title mermaids who drift and sink and surface throughout the narrative - the majority of that magic comes from Carey herself, who flits with effortless grace through the lives and perspectives of three generations of women. The cracks between these women and the stories behind these cracks are what drive the story forward, but I was mesmerized by Carey's ability to as ...more
A very touching book about mother/daughter relationships and how they can be so misunderstood. I really liked the book and the setting.
Catherine Greenfeder
This fictional work explores the uneasy relationships between mothers and daughters in an Irish family as they struggle with finding love, fulfillment, death, and the consequences of their choices. Set mostly on an island off the coast of Ireland where men making a living off the sea, women keep the home together, and a folktale of mermaids mystifies and terrifies the locals, The Mermaids Singing is both poetic, sexy, and compelling. It touches on magic as well as reality, broken dreams and hope ...more
“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
I wanted to like this book than I did. Some parts of the book were wonderful, 5-stars and others just put me off. The book was very lyrical and visual, I loved a great deal of the prose. I love the ocean so I was really pulled into the story quickly. At times the story was a bit hard to follow, and easy to forget which character was the focus at that moment but on the flip side, I liked that part of who it was written. I think I would have liked the book so much more without the sexual aspect. I ...more
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
Hannah Fullmer
I'm going to change my rating to 3, rather than 2 stars, because nine months after finishing this novel, I continue to have cravings to return to the misty, mystical, world, that its heroines inhabit.
At the time of reading this book, I think I was put off by the over-emotionality of the main characters. However, in retrospect, what has stayed with me are the evocative settings that author Lisa Carey creates, as she describes the northeastern seaboard of the United States, and then the wild be
As a daughter, a mother, a grandmother and just me... I really enjoyed The Mermaids Singing.
There are lots of situations that weren't ideal between the pages but at the end of the day, life is like that, not everything is perfect but we all do our best.
It was an enjoyable whimsical summer read that touched my heart strings, always a good thing!
The Mermaids Singing by Lisa Carey (1998, 257 pages). This story traces the lives of three women: Cliona, her daughter Grace, and her granddaughter Grainne. Cliona is a native of Inis Muruch, a small island off the coast of Ireland. She gives birth to Grace while employed in Boston but returns to her homeland when Grace is still young. Grace feels trapped on the small island and escapes to America when she is 18, young Grainne in tow. Grace dies of breast cancer when Grainne is only 15. At this ...more
I read a review that it was about three generations of angst-filled women and I have to agree. But also what I don't particularly like which seems to be a theme in some novels is the overly heroic qualities in characters. It's as if the female characters are the ideal female that the author wants to be. They can do no wrong. We are somehow supposed to admire their inhuman amount of sensuality or whatever superhuman trait the author gives them. When this is done, it ruins the book for me because ...more
M.J. Prest
An interesting novel about the mistakes mothers make and the daughters who are doomed to repeat them.

The book is more frankly sexual than I was expecting, though more often than not the encounters were stripped of sensuality. Just a note for anyone who thinks a 15-year-old protagonist makes this a YA novel.

I enjoyed the trio of narrators, although as the story progressed I felt myself losing sympathy for the character of Grace. She started off so vibrant and strong, but by the end of the book
This was a great debut novel by a promising author. The story takes place mostly on an Irish island. Three generations of women have struggled, seemingly making the same mistakes.
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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...
In the Country of the Young Love in the Asylum Every Visible Thing

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