by Sue Monk Kidd
“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, a life “molded to the smallest space possible.” 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? What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, allow Jessie to make a marriage unto herself.
Where does the yearning for soul-mated love come from? When it comes to love, what are the pulls inside a woman between the ordinary and the sublime? The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about mermaids and saints, about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body, brilliantly illuminating the awakening of a woman to her own deepest self.” (Summary by Sue Monk Kidd)