It was dark, and I needed a book. I opened one of Mom’s barrister bookcases and grabbed the most interesting thing I could see. Out came The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I started it and loved it right away as another of those books that comes at just the right time.
The story is of Jessie Sullivan, a woman in her early 40s, whose mother is mentally unwell and who herself is struggling with finding her own identity in the midst of her marriage. It seems that she has no sense of who she really is, and when her mother needs her back home on the coastal island where she was raised, she takes the chance to go find herself. While there, she falls in love, falls into new information about her dad’s death, and ultimately falls into herself.
Mom had started reading this book, but it seems like she might have never finished it because the last corner turned down was just after the chapter where Jessie betrays her marriage, and I can imagine Mom not wanting to continue reading there. I must admit I felt some the same way partially because of the adultery but partially because I felt like the more important storylines were about Jessie’s self-discovery and the story of her mother’s mental imbalance. Plus, I felt like there was something wrong (and not just morally) with Jessie’s affair. I thought maybe I was just finding it superfluous to the story, but I think Kidd may have been onto something here – maybe I felt it was wrong because it was wrong for Jessie; again, she was using someone else to find herself.
I’m fully aware that I may now be reading my own life into this book, and I’m okay with that. But if you are at a place where you want to delve into yourself more, or if you like monks, or Gullah history, or just good stories, pick this one up.
And if you’d like my mom’s copy, leave a comment about why you want to read this book, and I”ll randomly pick a winner for the giveaway on Monday.