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The Mermaid Chair
By Sue Monk Kidd

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The Mermaid Chair

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The Mermaid Chair
By Sue Monk Kidd
Center Point Large Print, (2005)
ISBN: 1-5854-7632-3
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Laura Hortz Stanton - August 30, 2006

The Mermaid Chair is Sue Monk Kiddís follow-up to her widely successful novel, The Secret Life of Bees. The Mermaid Chair follows the main character, Jessie, as she returns to the fictional Egret Island off the coast of North Carolina, the island on which she was born and raised. Jessie, who hasnít been to the island in five years, returns to help her estranged mother through a physical and mental illness. What begins as a short trip to assist her mother, turns into an extended stay during which Jessie makes some startling discoveries about herself, her marriage, and her family history.

When Jessie leaves her home in Atlanta to return to Egret Island she is lost and discontented. She is an artist who has stopped making her art and a wife that is not necessarily unhappy, but isnít fulfilled by her marriage. Upon returning to her hometown, Jessie is confronted with her mother Nelle, who for some unknown reason, has severed one of her fingers. In her attempt to care for Nelle, Jessie reconnects with her motherís two closest friends, Kat and Hepzibah, and the brothers that are part of the islandís monastery. While on the island, the main character is able to learn more about her mother, and rediscover her art, passion, love, and in may ways, herself.

The Mermaid Chair is as story filled with heartache, sensuality, and mysticism, which attempt to draw in the reader. However, the pull into the tale isnít always strong enough and some readers may find their attention ebbing and waning, much like the tide on Egret Island. Jessieís character, while interesting, is not always likeable and some of the other characters are, at times, just too eccentric to be believable. The Mermaid Chair has an interesting premise but the story does not always follow through. However, for fans of Kiddís previous work, the book should prove interesting and entertaining, if not engrossing.

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