The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
(Summary taken from the book jacket) “Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion. When Jessie is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother’s seemingly inexplicable act of violence, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh, a life ‘molded to the smallest space possible.’ Jessie loves Hugh, but once there, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is soon to take his final vows. Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and mejestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage.”
Oh, what to say about this book. After Secret Life of Bees I was very excited to read this book. Well, it was very different. If you step back and look at the over-all story, there are certain things that are similar in the books, but..wow. From page 2 of this book you know the character is going to have an affair, and you know she is going to destroy her life. So after page 2 I was left wondering if I should even read it. I mean, if you read it are you being immoral for reading about a sordid love affair? You know there will be scenes of “physical intimacy.” You know that it is going to be a bad situation, and yet do you read it??? In one sense I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t know if it was morally right to read it. Then in the other sense I was so enthralled with the other aspects of the story, I wanted answers to my questions. And, I really wanted to see if this stupid lady would come to her senses and do the right thing. So did I read it??? Yes, I did. I am bad at stopping half-way. Was I glad I finished it??? Yes, I was. My questions were answered, and (I don’t want to give anything away) I was satisfied with the resolution. It ended up being a good book. It really made me think at the end. I don’t want to have the feelings she did in 10 more years, so I looked a lot at me, and what I can do to improve my really good marriage now, and also what can I do to help myself? This book shows a lot about human nature, love, forgiveness, mental illness, and friendship. It also shows how what happens to us in our childhood affects what happens in our adult lives. I do love her writing though. It really pulls you in.
Rating: R (Remember, this rating is not congruent with the movie ratings.) My R rating means that there is a lot of language and there is a lot of “physical intimacy.” The first intimacy scene is a little descriptive but from then on they just say they “made love.”
Recommendation: 18+, but really I would say you should be HAPPILY married, and strong in your relationship if you want to read this book. You should also have a good, strong set of morals and NO inclination to have an affair. I just say this because I had such a moral struggle to begin with, just because I knew the premise of the story. But, I think it ended up being a good thing in the end. So there you go…you have the info. so you can make your own choice.