The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
When I found this book in the clearance section of Chapters and got my friend Renuka to pick it up for me with her employee discount, I thought I’d scored a major bargain. I loved the author’s first book, The Secret Life Of Bees – it made me want to become a beekeeper. This second book, however, was a waste of money and a waste of time. The only thing The Mermaid Chair made me want to do was stop reading it.
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 the marshlands, tidal creeks, and majestic 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.