This week I am featuring Sue Monk Kidd's lesser-known novel The Mermaid Chair. I read and loved The Secret Life of Bees, and I know many people loved the movie starring Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah. But truly, I loved The Mermaid Chair even more.
So much that (for a very, very short while) I contemplated getting some type of a tattoo based on the mermaid chair described in the book. I never did that (thank goodness!), although if I were going to get something inked on my body, I do think it would be literary-related. That just seems appropriate for a book-lover, doesn't it? No tattoos for this girl yet, though. (Or probably ever.)
In The Mermaid Chair, Kidd once again returns to South Carolina, the setting of The Secret Life of Bees. As you know if you've visited me before, southern lit is one of my favorite genres. She also gives readers a strong female main character in Jessie, but one who is flawed in ways that make her quite human.
A synopsis from the author's website:
"Inside the abbey 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. . . . Jessie loves Hugh, but once on the island, 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 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. Is the power of the mermaid chair only a myth? Or will it alter the course of Jessie’s life?"I fell head over heels for Jessie and especially for that South Carolina island when I read The Mermaid Chair several years ago. The novel was also made into a Lifetime movie about five years ago, starring Kim Basinger as Jessie. It isn't scheduled to be shown on Lifetime anytime in the next six weeks (according to their website), but it is available on DVD.
If you are also a fan of Sue Monk Kidd and you haven't yet read The Mermaid Chair, be sure to register to win a copy. I only have one last Favorite Reads Giveaway to do for next week... More may come in the future, but for now this is your next-to-last chance!