|Book Reveiw 7-6
Sunday, April 13, 2008
By Denise Turney
Lately I keep stumbling upon one great book after another. The Mermaid Chair written by bestselling author, Sue Monk, is one of those great books. Monk’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent a phenomenal eighty plus weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than three million copies. In her second title, The Mermaid Chair, Monk shows that she is one of today’s truly talented and gifted writers. Her style is invocative and engaging. Her writing is clear, poignant and easy to read. You won’t need a thesaurus to enjoy Monk’s books. You will need a good night light, as her writing is so effective that it’s hard to put her books down.
The Mermaid Chair opens in a middle aged woman named Jessie’s house in Atlanta. Jessie lives in a comfortable home in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband, a successful psychologist, of twenty plus years. Theirs is a perfect life. There is no abuse or infidelity to speak of. The biggest change going on in their lives at the start of the book is the fact that their daughter and only child has just left home and gone to college. That is until the telephone rings.
The call is from a friend of Jessie’s family. The woman continues to live on an island just off of South Carolina with Jessie’s mother. Mental illness has begun to take harder shape in Jessie’s mother’s mind. It has created distance between Jessie and her mother. It started after Jessie’s father returned to the ancestors when Jessie was a young girl.
The Mermaid Chair is a powerful love story. There were times when I wondered if the story was based on real life events. It’s a love story about a man and a woman. It’s a love story about a mother and her daughter. It’s a love story about a woman, Jessie, finding her true self and learning to let go and soak up the splendor of life again. A typical love story this book is not. Monk is much too talented for that. She peels back the layers of what entails being human then adds a pinch of mystery and intrigue. Her pacing is splendid. This book packs a wallop.
As readers continue to explore the pages of this wonderful story, they will discover that Jessie is a woman with more but a few unresolved issues in her life, but problem is that these issues have been hidden from Jessie for years.
She doesn’t even know how deeply she needs to heal from what happened to her family years ago. She’s happily married to a wonderful man. She has a daughter who hasn’t given her a hint of trouble. But she’s forsaken her passions and traded them in for what she thinks makes for a good mother and wife.
When she returns to the island she discovers how high the price of the switch has been on her, and she begins to make some changes. One of the book’s strongest points is how Jessie comes to discover her deeper self. Readers will either root her own or demand that she stop moving forward, but they will not not care. Monk won’t allow for it. Scenes she places Jessie in move the heart, right to the core. In the process of reading The Mermaid Chair you may uncover hidden truths about yourself, truths that will allow you to regain your balance and live life fully, completely and without apology.
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