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The Mermaid Chair

3.09  ·  Rating Details ·  63,765 Ratings  ·  5,779 Reviews

Sue Monk Kidd's phenomenal debut, The Secret Life of Bees, became a runaway bestseller that is still on the New York Times bestseller list more than two years after its paperback publication. Now, in her luminous new novel, Kidd has woven a transcendent tale that will thrill her legion of fans. Telling the story of Jessie Sullivan -- a love story between a woman and a mon
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jul 13, 2008 Spudsie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Spudsie by: 2008 SRL
I did not like this book.

That’s not entirely accurate. I loved the religious themes that ran through this book, I loved the stories of growing up on an island, I loved the Mermaid aspect of this story.

So why the rating of “did not like?” I’m really tired of stories where the lead character decides they need to drastically change their life. Then they run off through either some decision they consciously make or through some twist of fate (as in this case) to “find” themselves. While finding the
Aug 27, 2008 Kirk rated it it was ok
This book is so corny it will pass straight through you, undigested.
Jul 03, 2008 Ashley rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2008
Read this book as it was a selection for my book club.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed "The Secret Life Of Bees" by the same writer, I found this book to be a far different sort of read. In Bees, while I enjoyed the plot, it was the characters that I found myself hooked to. In "The Mermaid Chair" I found the plot to be only mildly entertaining and the characters lacking in development. The main character I found to be whiny, annoying, selfish, and someone I just couldn't connect to on any level. T
Jan 06, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
After glancing over the goodreads reviews of this book, and seeing how negative they were, I was expecting to dislike, or simply feel apathy for, this book. But I really loved it, surprisingly so. I enjoyed "The Secret Life of Bees", but I didn't connect to the characters as much as I connected to Jessie in this story. This book tackles a difficult subject: how can you fall in love with someone else while still married to a wonderful man who hasn't changed? The goodreads complaints were that Jes ...more
Sep 01, 2008 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who believe in love at first sight
Very disappointed in this book since I loved "The Secret Life of Bees". The best thing I can say about it is that it is highly easy summer read. I believe in lust at first site, a spark that makes you want to get to know someone, etc. No matter how hard I tried, I could not wrap myself around the decision of a woman to leave a husband of 20 years and a monk to turn his back on the monastery on the basis of a first glance after which both proclaimed being in love. And if you can't b ...more
Jun 13, 2007 Sammy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-the-best
I bought this book when I went with my mother to go hear Sue Monk Kidd speak. Let me tell you, she speaks as eloquently as she writes. She's also just as witty. After hearing her speak, I realized that a lot of her personality comes through in her writing. Her amazing writing.

She spoke of how she felt The Mermaid Chair was going to be often compared to The Secret Life of Bees and maybe wouldn't be able to live up to the high praise it's earned so far. She also worried about the characters being
Nov 25, 2008 Carrie rated it did not like it
terrible. Middle-life crisis dribble. It was like gargling salt water.
Books Ring Mah Bell
Aug 06, 2008 Books Ring Mah Bell rated it did not like it
Shelves: poop
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Bashaar
Nov 07, 2015 Kathryn Bashaar rated it it was ok
The main character in this book just seemed like a whiner to me. Boo hoo, my husband won't "let" me be myself. Ummm, let's see, is it his job to "let" you be yourself, or was that your job all your life while he was supporting the family so you could putz around decorating your lovely victorian house and messing with your little collages that never go anywhere? I found nothing wrong with her husband. He seemed like an intelligent, sensitive guy, and the minute he lets her out of his sight she bo ...more
Jan 02, 2008 Cynthia rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, but reading most of the reviews, it seems like most people hated this book. I do think "The Secret Life of Bees" was better--I enjoyed the characters and storyline in Bees more so than "The Mermaid Chair."

The main character of Jessie drove me crazy sometimes because, as everyone thinks, she could be so selfish sometimes when it came to her mother and her husband. True, it's a little unbelievable Jessie would choose to pretty much ignore her mother's mental state and spend mos
Mar 31, 2007 Wormie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: nobody
Dear Sue,

What were you thinking? I don’t want to be mean, but “The Mermaid Chair” isn’t your best work. Your first novel, “The Secret Life of Bees” was wonderful – full of imagery and emotion. I was expecting more of your magic, but “The Mermaid Chair” is just another novel about a middle-aged woman in a rut.

You explore some compelling ideas: marriage, infidelity, betrayal, guilt, forgiveness, grief and faith, but you don’t really add anything to that oh-so-told story. You wrap the issues in a
Feb 15, 2009 Shelly rated it did not like it
Not nearly as inspirational or moving as author's first novel, Secret Life of Bees. Although VERY well written the subject matter was not pleasing and almost distasteful. I liked the monks side of the story and can more readily understand why he did what he did. In his case he was questioning his faith, his existence, everything and was reaching out to anything that might pull him back to Life. In the woman's case, she was simply bored and unfulfilled in her marriage and was searching for self r ...more
Aug 18, 2008 Lindsey rated it liked it
This probably isn't the best time to write a review of this book since I just finished it a few hours ago and am still quite upset by it. The reason I began the book was because of the name, first of all, and also the story takes place on an island right off the coast of South Carolina. I grew up in South Carolina and miss it very much and so I started reading.

The first part of the book dragged a little, although I loved the descriptions of the south and the ocean. As the book picked up I began
Jun 28, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it
Well this bored me to tears. Empty pointless story. It had slight potential but it seemed the author was not skilled enough to get anywhere near pulling it off. It was so bad that it made me wonder if a ghostwriter was used for The Secret Life of Bees, I just can't fathom how these are written by the same person.
Jul 03, 2008 Frank rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 22, 2007 Kathy rated it it was ok
From a blog post I wrote in 2005:

If you've read The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, you probably have high expectations for her latest work, The Mermaid Chair. Bees was beautifully written and made you care about the characters so much that you were sorry to have to leave them at the end of the story. I hope she writes a sequel.

Mermaid Chair has some of the same elements as Bees: quirky characters, long held secrets, romance and long time friendships. But, I didn't feel the lov
Christine Nolfi
Jan 12, 2013 Christine Nolfi rated it it was amazing
In The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd provides one of the best opening sentences in any novel. A beautiful story about the choices and challenges women face in middle age.
Arielle Walker
Feb 06, 2013 Arielle Walker rated it it was ok
Maybe it was just the wrong time to have read this book, but I hated the main character, found the "instant-love" ridiculous and decided that though the writing wasn't too bad the story is too contrived to actually be any good.
Maureen Brunner
When I saw that this book was on the goodreads "unpopular" shelve, I decided to write a review on why I liked this book. I have a thing about sticking up for an underdog.

Probably the most stated reason that this book is unpopular is because readers compare and contrast it to the author's previous award winning work, The Secret Life of Bees. I think that people who loved the Secret Life must have anticipated that Monk Kidd's follow up would somehow cater to the same audience, and then they were
Jul 23, 2007 Ti rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jesse goes back home, to visit with her mother who is apparently cutting off her fingers in a rash display of abnormal behavior. While on the island, she comes across a monk that she eventually falls in love with. The problem is that Nell is married and has a grown daughter. The story goes back and forth between caring for the mother and the love affair between Nell and the monk.

It is not very well written, and at times reminded me a lot of the "Ya Ya Sisterhood". Everything seemed very "surfac
Jan 21, 2008 patricia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
that sue monk kid might be a one hit wonder..just joking but secrt lives of bees was an all time fav for me and i was extremely disappointed in this book. did not connect with character at all. save your money buy the second book from the author of the kite runner...he proved himself with his second novel.
Sep 12, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2015
I usually just drop my stars and run, but after realizing this is one of the lowest-rated books I've ever seen on Goodreads, I feel like I have to justify myself in liking it as much as I did.

This novel is beautifully written. And sometimes, if a novel is written really, really well, I find myself almost not caring what it's saying (*almost*). I just like the way it's saying it, if that makes sense. It was constructed so well, and written so beautifully, that I was more caught up in the words th
Dec 26, 2008 Alissa rated it liked it
I picked this up at the faaaaabulous Reno book sale, and I'm not sure why. I really hated this same author's "The Secret Life of Bees," but I figured it'd be worth a try.

I was surprised to find that I liked it, even if it read like a mixture of the Thorn Birds and a Lifetime movie. It's about a woman in her forties who is bored with her life. Her mom, who lives back on ye olde island that the daughter never goes back to (her dad died, all kinds of bad memories, yada yada), has cut off her finge
Apr 14, 2007 William rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Chick-lit fans
I really wanted to like this book and after being pleasantly surprised (and touched) by "The Secret Life of Bees" I was pretty eager to read it. Having said that, I didn't dislike it. I guess disappointed is the word. I was disappointed in the characters, the themes, the motivations and the plot overall. The characters seemed stock/shallow and a bit forced with the only believable one of the lot being the poor husband (and the friend’s “off” daughter, who was a hoot...we needed more of her) and ...more
Carolyn F.
I'll start this review by saying I usually steer clear of books with adultery. Makes me too uncomfortable. I started this audiobook not knowing it was about adultery until I was already engrossed in it. I thought to myself, it's fiction, it doesn't have to be your Pollyanna view of the world. So I kept listening to the audiobook and I'm glad I did.

First of all Eliza Foss, the narrator, was great, both Southern and male voices.

Jessie's mother has cut off her finger purposely and so Jessie goes t
Harun Harahap
Nov 19, 2009 Harun Harahap rated it it was ok
Shelves: punya, fiksi, terjemahan
Hanya cerita perselingkuhan biasa ajah!!kecewa ah!!

yang gw cerna dari buku ini:

Manurut gw , bukanlah suatu tindakan yang benar ataupun dibenarkan saat diri anda berselingkuh. Sedih rasanya saat mengatahui bahwa kesempurnaan atau kebaikan pasangan bisa membuat kebosanan yang berujung pada perselingkuhan dan perpisahan. Jangan salahkan Cinta, karena memang Cinta selalu datang kapanpun Cinta mau. Janji pernikahan bukankah merupakan sesuatu komitmen yang harus dipegang teguh. Atau Janji Tinggal Janj
Jul 31, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok
This book felt derivative and overwrought. I really only kept reading to find out why mom chopped her finger off. I felt like it fetishized women's friendships, as even better books sometimes do (Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood, etc.). I've never really understood that. I grew up in a family of all girls, and at any given time, 80-100% of my friends have been other women, but I don't see making a religion out of it, complete with arcane rituals and cultish secrecy. I was also annoyed by the whol ...more
May 31, 2007 Eliza rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction
this book was horrid! if you want to read anything by sue monk kidd read The Secret Life of Bees that book has meaning and structure.

i thought the premise of this book, middle aged woman decides she is dissatisfied with her life so she has an affair and finds out that the "terrible" secret from her past is really actually boring, was so hackneyed i couldn't even finish reading. i skimmed to the end to find out the secret, and then laughed at the absurdity of it all.

don't bother with this book,
Ginger Bensman
Jan 13, 2017 Ginger Bensman rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
In spite of the author's obvious gifts as a writer and some compelling well-drawn secondary characters, The Mermaid Chair left me unconvinced and feeling more than a little irritated with Jessie, Kidd's selfish protagonist. It was hard to feel sympathy for her. She has, by all accounts, a kind, faithful, considerate, and highly responsible husband, and a grown daughter, and she's willing (even eager) to hurt and forsake them both to hook up with a monk.

Descriptions of Egret Island off the coast
This is a ridiculous story about a selfish conceited person having a midlife crisis and really not caring much about the damage her decisions make. Totally unrealistic men: her cuckolded husband (on learning the truth): “..he’d hoped his suffering was not being squandered, that somewhere inside it was making him pliant and tender.” Right. That’s just where most men go - gosh i hope this makes me soft and fluffy. Right after the homicide thing.
At one point she admits to relating to the princess a
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SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University and Anderson College, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the
More about Sue Monk Kidd...

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“All my life I've thought I needed someone to complete me, now I know I need to belong to myself.” 240 likes
“You can go other places, all right - you can live on the other side of the world, but you can't ever leave home” 183 likes
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