I just finished Sue Monk Kidd’s most recent book, The Mermaid Chair. I bought it in early May and had studiously avoided reading any reviews until I had a chance to dive into the book myself. (If you have read it you will likely groan at the use of the word “dive.”)
About halfway through, I told Pure Luck that I would really like to smack the narrator. That feeling did not abate.
I’m disappointed in the book, especially since her previous novel, The Secret Life of Bees, was so appealing. I loved the relationships between the African-American sisters and the white girl; I thought SMK’s use of a Black Madonna and exploration of a feminine take on Christianity was intriguing and thought-provoking; I must admit to skimming through some of the beekeeping stuff; and I hated all the parts that had to do with anyone’s romance, thinking they were the least well-written or conceived.
In Mermaid, we get, once again, a favorable friendship between African-American and white women (with the ratios reversed this time); we learn about the Barrier Islands, the Gullah culture and the flora and the fauna (in better proportion to the rest of the narrative, perhaps, than the beekeeping); we have another exploration of Catholicism, mixed with mythology this time; and we get a weakly written romance. Unfortunately, this time the romance is the main course, not the side dish.
I would be happy to talk about the book in more detail in the comments, if anyone else would like to do so, but will say no more about the story here to avoid ruining it for anyone who still might like to read it.