Jennifer Reese
March 28, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Mermaid Chair

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Sue Monk Kidd
publisher
Viking
genre
Romance, Fiction

We gave it a C

Try this for a batty and arresting first sentence: ”In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh’s wife and Dee’s mother, one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, I fell in love with a Benedictine monk.” Alas, it’s all downhill from there in Sue Monk Kidd’s goopy follow-up to her best-selling 2002 debut, The Secret Life of Bees. Jessie Sullivan returns to a South Carolina barrier island to care for her mother, who has unaccountably begun chopping off her fingers. As Jessie tries to unravel the dark family secret driving her mother mad, she meets handsome Brother Thomas from the nearby abbey. Soon, they’re swimming nude in the creeks and cavorting in an egret rookery, ”drunk with happiness.” That’s a sentiment readers probably won’t share.

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