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If you’re an avid reader looking for your next great listen, you won’t want to miss this audiobook review of “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd. In this captivating tale of self-discovery and love, we follow Jessie Sullivan as she grapples with the complexities of her own emotions against the backdrop of a beautiful Lowcountry island. In this review, we’ll explore the various aspects of the audiobook, from the writing style and language to the narration, character development, and themes.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Mermaid Chair is a compelling tale of love, self-discovery, and emotional complexity.
  • Sue Monk Kidd’s writing style is vivid and emotive, bringing the Lowcountry island to life with lush descriptions.
  • The audiobook narration is top-notch, with the narrator successfully bringing the characters to life and enhancing the listening experience.
  • The themes and symbolism in the story offer an added layer of depth, allowing readers to delve into the underlying meanings and messages.
  • Overall, The Mermaid Chair is a well-written, engaging audiobook that is well worth the listen.

About the Author – Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is a renowned author known for her captivating storytelling style and powerful narratives. Born in Sylvester, Georgia in 1948, Sue went on to earn a degree in nursing from Texas Christian University and worked as a registered nurse for many years before finding her voice as a writer.

Her first novel, “The Secret Life of Bees,” published in 2002, quickly became a bestseller, selling more than six million copies and being translated into 36 languages. “The Mermaid Chair” followed in 2005, solidifying Sue’s reputation as a talented author with a gift for creating vivid and compelling stories.

In addition to her novels, Sue has also written several acclaimed non-fiction works, including “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” and “When the Heart Waits.”

Through her writing, Sue Monk Kidd has become an influential voice in the literary world, inspiring readers with her powerful storytelling and thought-provoking insights into the human experience.

PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Dayton Literary Peace Prize International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
“The Secret Life of Bees” – Winner (2004) “The Invention of Wings” – Runner-up (2014) “The Mermaid Chair” – Nominee (2006)
“The Mermaid Chair” – Finalist (2005) “The Secret Life of Bees” – Winner (2015)

Awards and Accolades

Sue Monk Kidd’s work has been honored with numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her novels have been adapted into successful films and plays, further cementing her status as an influential and beloved author.

Plot Overview of “The Mermaid Chair”

Set on a remote island off the coast of South Carolina, “The Mermaid Chair” follows Jessie Sullivan, a married woman who returns to her childhood home after her mother mutilates and burns her hands.

Trapped in a stifling marriage, Jessie confronts her past and uncovers some dark truths about her family while struggling with guilt and a forbidden attraction to Brother Thomas, an insightful monk.

The story explores themes such as love, identity, the balance between rationality and spirituality, and the emotional struggles that come with adopting unconventional choices. The Mermaid Chair is a gripping story filled with emotional depth and evocative imagery.

Character Development

The Mermaid Chair’s characters are intricate and well-developed, and each one has a distinct personality.

Character Description
Jessie Sullivan The protagonist and narrator whose visit to her mother unlocks a series of revelations regarding her past and present.
Hugh Sullivan Jessie’s husband, a surgeon, who is cold and distant towards her, causing her to feel unfulfilled in her marriage.
Nell Jessie’s mother, who’s mentally unstable after accidentally injuring herself.
Brother Thomas The intelligent Benedictine monk whom Jessie is attracted to and opens up to about her feelings.

The characters’ rich backstories and their interactions with one another propel the plot’s momentum, keeping readers engaged from start to finish.

The Mermaid Chair’s narrative is both poignant and insightful, and the characters are both relatable and engaging. Whether you’re interested in self-discovery stories, forbidden romance, or family secrets, “The Mermaid Chair” is a book that will leave you hooked from start to finish.

Narration and Performance

Audiobook Narration

One of the most critical factors that can make or break an audiobook is the quality of the narration and performance. Luckily, “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd delivers on both fronts, providing listeners with an immersive and engaging listening experience.

The narrator’s skill in bringing the characters to life is superb, with each voice being distinct and memorable. Their ability to convey the emotions and moods of each character adds depth to the overall story, making it easy for the listener to connect with and empathize with the characters. Additionally, the narrator’s pacing is excellent and never feels rushed or dragging, ensuring the listener remains engrossed in the story from start to finish.

All in all, the narration and performance add value to the audiobook, significantly enhancing the listening experience.

Writing Style and Language

Sue Monk Kidd’s writing style and language in “The Mermaid Chair” are masterfully crafted, evoking a sense of vivid imagery and emotion throughout the narrative. Kidd’s use of descriptive language paints a vibrant picture of the island setting and the inner workings of her characters’ psyches. From the opening pages, listeners will become ensconced in the unique voice and perspective that defines Kidd’s writing style. Each sentence is carefully constructed, enabling the reader to savor the text and fully immerse themselves in the world of the story.

What makes Kidd’s writing style truly remarkable is her ability to balance poetic prose with raw, authentic dialogues, giving her characters depth and dimensionality. Her poetic descriptions are complemented by a strong and accessible narrative, which makes for an enjoyable and immersive listening experience.

Moreover, Kidd’s use of symbolism and metaphor further adds to the richness of her writing. These elements provide insight into the characters’ internal conflicts while at the same time elevating the themes and motifs of the story. The way in which Kidd makes use of these literary devices is nothing short of awe-inspiring, creating a cohesive and unforgettable narrative.

Character Development

“The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd incorporates a diverse and dynamic cast of characters, each with their own individual themes and storylines. As the story unfolds, so too does the growth and development of these characters. Kidd masterfully presents this development through a series of intricate relationships and motivations that allow readers to form a deeper understanding of each character’s journey.

One of the primary characters in the book is Jessie, the protagonist who struggles with a difficult past and present. Throughout the story, readers witness her personal growth as she confronts her past, faces her fears, and ultimately learns to love and accept herself. Additionally, readers follow alongside vividly portrayed supporting characters such as Brother Thomas and Whit, who both play significant roles in Jessie’s journey.

Overall, the character development in “The Mermaid Chair” is a testament to Kidd’s skillful storytelling and ability to craft multidimensional characters that resonate with readers long after the book is finished.

Themes and Symbolism

In “The Mermaid Chair,” Sue Monk Kidd weaves compelling themes and symbolism throughout the narrative, offering readers a poignantly layered tale of self-discovery and love. One of the most prominent themes throughout the book is the search for identity, as the central character, Jessie Sullivan, grapples with her sense of self-worth and place in the world. This theme is mirrored in the mermaid chair itself, which is infused with a sense of mystery and intrigue, symbolizing Jessie’s desire for freedom and autonomy.

Another theme explored in the book is the power of forgiveness, as Jessie confronts the dark truths of her past and learns to let go of her pain and regrets. Additionally, “The Mermaid Chair” examines the complexities of human relationships, particularly the bonds between family members and the struggle to balance personal desires and obligations to others.

Symbolism is also a significant aspect of the book, with the mermaid chair serving as a metaphor for Jessie’s own journey of self-discovery and the mysteries of the natural world. The ocean, too, plays a symbolic role, representing both the sublime beauty of nature and the immense power and mystery of the universe.

The interplay of themes and symbolism creates a rich tapestry of meaning in “The Mermaid Chair,” elevating it beyond a simple story of love and conflict. Instead, Sue Monk Kidd creates a work that is both emotionally resonant and intellectually stimulating, leaving a lasting impression on readers long after the final page has been turned.

Pacing and Enjoyment

One of the most crucial aspects of any book is its pacing. In “The Mermaid Chair,” Sue Monk Kidd does an excellent job of maintaining a steady pace throughout the story, keeping readers engaged and invested in the narrative.

The pacing of “The Mermaid Chair” is neither too slow nor too fast, allowing readers to fully absorb the events and emotions in each scene. This deliberate pacing lends itself well to the introspective nature of the book, where the characters’ inner struggles and growth take center stage.

As for enjoyment, “The Mermaid Chair” is a highly enjoyable audiobook that transports listeners to the lush, mysterious Lowcountry of South Carolina. The vivid descriptions of the scenery and the sea create a sensory experience that is hard to forget.

Moreover, the characters’ evolution throughout the book is compelling and thought-provoking. Readers will undoubtedly find themselves rooting for the protagonist, Jessie, as she grapples with complex issues of identity, love, and faith.

Overall, the pacing in “The Mermaid Chair” is well-crafted, and the audiobook is highly enjoyable. If you’re looking for a book that combines introspection, mystery, and romance, then “The Mermaid Chair” is certainly worth checking out.

Comparison to Other Works by Sue Monk Kidd

As an acclaimed author, Sue Monk Kidd has written several notable works that set her apart in the literary world. Comparatively speaking, “The Mermaid Chair” shares similarities with some of her other works, particularly in themes and character development. In her debut novel, “The Secret Life of Bees,” Kidd explores themes of family and redemption similar to “The Mermaid Chair.” Another of her books, “The Invention of Wings,” also deals with social issues and self-discovery, making it a relevant comparison to her more recent work. However, “The Mermaid Chair” stands out due to its more mature themes and complex character relationships.

In terms of writing style, Sue Monk Kidd’s ability to create vivid imagery and evoke emotions is evident throughout her body of work. Her use of sensory details and figurative language is particularly noteworthy, as it immerses the reader in the story and allows them to connect with the characters on a deeper level. Additionally, A common thread in her writing is her ability to weave together elements of spirituality and mythology, which adds an extra layer of depth to her work.


In conclusion, “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd is a captivating tale that explores the themes of self-discovery and love through the lens of complex characters and vivid imagery. The audiobook narration and performance are of high quality, enhancing the overall listening experience. Sue Monk Kidd’s writing style and language are superb, evoking emotions and crafting memorable prose. The character development is top-notch, with fully fleshed out and dynamic characters that contribute to the overall story. The pacing is just right, allowing readers to become fully immersed in the story.

Overall, “The Mermaid Chair” is a must-read for fans of Sue Monk Kidd’s work and those who are interested in thought-provoking and engaging storytelling. It comes highly recommended and is sure to leave a lasting impression on readers.

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