Saturday, 28 May 2011

Review: The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

Blurb: Forty-two, and married for half her life, Jessie Sullivan honestly believes that she is happy. She has a lovely home, a dependable husband and an accomplished and adored teenage daughter. But when shocking news about her mother compels Jessie to visit the remote island of her childhood, Jessie finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk on the verge of taking his final vows.

Amid the seductive beauty of South Carolina salt marshes and tidal creeks, their encounters awaken an immense sexual and spiritual desire in Jessie, leaving her torn between powerful new longings and her enduring marriage. After all these years she is finally beginning to understand who she really is and where she belongs. But she has still to discover how much of her old life has a place in her new one.

Essentially this is a story of self-discovery and re-awakening. Jessie is restless in her life and struggles with the guilt of feeling responsible for her father’s death when she was just 9 years old. After getting a call informing her that her deeply religious mother has done something unthinkable, Jessie agrees to go back to the island she grew up on and was desperate to leave. She uses this opportunity to take a break from her husband Hugh and their enduring life.

Back on Egret Island she runs into Brother Thomas, known as Whit in his former life, a monk struggling with doubts and his own tragic past. They only thing that I didn’t like in this book is the instant unexplained attraction between the two. I have obviously heard of instant attraction before but in this case, they fall in love having only spoken a few words to each other and it felt a bit rushed to me. It’s a small complaint on my part. Otherwise I was completely swept away by their relationship but in the back of mind I couldn’t stop thinking about poor Hugh! It’s a novel that challenges what you consider to be morally right.

The story explores the relationships between Jessie and Hugh, Jessie and Brother Thomas, Jessie and her estranged mother, and Jessie's search for something else in her life. She must also confront the circumstances of her father's death and a tragic family secret.

It is a story of self-discovery, love, friendship, betrayal and forgiveness.  I found myself unable to put this book down and I’m giving it 5/5 stars. I loved everything about the island, the monastery, and the characters lives. Highly recommended!

Two words: Raw and Memorable


  1. Loved the review. Thanks. Donna

  2. Ah - this sounds fabulous. My copy is still sitting on my bedside table - just got to finish a few on top of it first! But I am definitely going to get past the first line in the next few days!!!

  3. This sounds like an excellent read. I like stories with some drama and this might be a good fit. I'll have to look this one up.

  4. This sounds so good.

    Liking your blog.

    Amy@adumbrations (new follower)

  5. Wow! This sounds excellent.