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The mermaid chair

by Sue Monk Kidd

  Print book : Fiction

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Feminine Spirit Crisis   (2006-09-26)


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by MegIrish

Kidd’s second novel is a journey of emotional, artistic, and spiritual self-inquiry. Middle-aged Jessie Sullivan must return to her childhood home due to the self-mutilation her mother Nelle, created by cutting off her finger. The early morning disorientation of the phone call from her mother’s best friend, Kat, sets up the multi-layered soul struggle within the novel. Confronted by this disturbing behavior, relationships past and present commingle uneasily. With family demands lessening, as her only child Dee, is off to college, her aloof husband Hugh, reluctantly lets her go alone. With the confusion of her mother’s behavior and the unresolved mystery of Joe, her beloved father’s death when she was nine, Jesse discovers another layer of reconciliation and renewal within. The symbolism of the history of the Mermaid Chair and death of her father provide a disquieting resolution.In her best selling debut novel, The Secret Life of Bees, family emotions painfully peeled, the reader can remain sympathetic, compassionate, yet detached from a child’s heartache. This novel compels you inward to Jesse’s decisions of adultery with Brother Thomas, a monk, an unusual painting of expressive lovers, and avoidance of essential conversations with her family. There is no freedom from grief and forgiveness, yet Jesse discovers a peace and warmth for herself and understood by her family. Kidd’s descriptions reward you again of the beauty of a South Carolina island, and discontented family relationships.

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