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The Mermaid Chair

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  79,502 ratings  ·  6,464 reviews
An alternate cover edition exists here.

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 --
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Almudena Water is a symbol of emotion. The mermaid symbolizes being immersed in one's own emotions (water), becoming comfortable in one's mystical and emotional medium.
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Average rating 3.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  79,502 ratings  ·  6,464 reviews

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Jul 11, 2008 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 rated it it was ok
This book is so corny it will pass straight through you, undigested.
May 29, 2008 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 03, 2009 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
Jul 28, 2007 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
Nov 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
terrible. Middle-life crisis dribble. It was like gargling salt water.
May 29, 2007 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
Books Ring Mah Bell
Aug 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poop
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn Bashaar
Mar 15, 2008 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's ...more
Jan 02, 2008 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
“You can't stop your heart from loving, really -- it's like standing out there in the ocean yelling at the waves to stop.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

My review..9/6/2020

The Mermaid Chair was a must read for me. I fell in love..immediately..with the cover. I'd also read "The invention of wings" which I'd rated a five. I was prepared to love this. I did not.

I DID love certain aspects. By gosh, this woman can write. And she writes in a way I love. She writes about summer and islands and Merma
Mar 31, 2007 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
Christine Nolfi
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd provides one of the finest opening lines in any novel. A beautiful story about the choices and challenges women face in middle age.
Feb 02, 2008 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
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015, fiction
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
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unforgettable, 2015
I loved this book. I could see its story being a beautiful, quirky movie. With not the greatest of goodreads ratings, I am mystified as to why. Sue Monk Kidd is such a graceful, intelligent, free-spirited writer. I suggest readers of this book abandon cynicism and daily reality doldrums and instead embrace your heart full of dreams and folklore, with the open understanding of others' life choices. This novel, full of artful mermaid, ocean love, is relevant and faithful, an inquisitive bookclub c ...more
Aug 14, 2008 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
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
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. ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was just the summer tale I needed about a girl returning home, having a total breakdown while dealing with her mother’s breakdown and confronting all of her demons at once. Oh yeah, there is also an affair with a monk and mermaids. I love the scene where she makes an oath to herself in a sort of marriage ceremony promising to love herself first and most of all. I think we can all take a tip from her on that one ☝🏻🧜‍♀️
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
Aug 28, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lady-marion
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
Lisa Zetes
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Love this book
Jan 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Horrible new age romantic schlock with a side of southern gothic. On the plus side, it makes a great hate read, and your eye-roll muscles will get a fine workout.
Nov 22, 2007 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
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
Dec 26, 2008 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
Feb 06, 2013 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.
Jul 12, 2007 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 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.
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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, 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 1996 Poets & Writers

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