April Hamilton's Reviews > The Mermaid Chair

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
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's review
Mar 23, 2009

did not like it

** spoiler alert ** I had a lot of difficulty relating to the protagonist, who seems to have a very caring and attentive husband but at the start of the book, for some reason, has grown tired of him. Or maybe not of him specifically, but of who she is in the marriage, or of being his wife. There simply weren't any good reasons given for why she should feel as she does, and the husband is presented as very kind and giving.

I also didn't like the subtext of the story, as I interpreted it, which seems to be that the protagonist couldn't have possibly grown any more as a woman or even a person *without* cheating on her husband. It seemed a big cop out and rationalization to me, and as a woman now married for over 17 years, I'd like to think that if a day should come when I feel bored and tired of myself and my marriage, I'd have some better and less hurtful ideas about how to improve things. Marriage or personal counseling, for example.

If the author's intent was to show how a woman manages to escape from the womanly trap of being defined only in relation to one's male partner, I think she failed because the author allows her protagonist to escape the husband trap only by stepping into a lover trap. I prefer feminine stories of growth that show the women rising above their romantic entanglements, and revealing their true character by keeping their priorities in life straight.

Granted, this lady did not set out specifically to find some other man to connect with, but as soon as that man appeared she was quick to jump in with both feet, and with scarcely a thought about the impact her decision would have on her husband and (adult) daughter. In the end her long-suffering husband takes her back, so there's very little fallout from the affair.

I might've enjoyed the book more, and been made less angry by it, if it ended with the protagonist losing her marriage and being somewhat alienated from her daughter. Not as a punishment, but as the cost of the choices she made. Then, the message of the story would be that opportunities for personal growth often come at a cost, not only to ourselves but to our loved ones, and sometimes the price for that growth is too high.
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02/20/2016 marked as: read

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