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The Mermaid Chair
(Sue Monk Kidd)

Jessie, box artist and stay-at-home mother, rushes off to Egret Island one morning to be with her mother who has suddenly just chopped off her index finger. Just days later she finds herself madly in love with Brother Thomas from the monastery next door to the home where she grew up. Things are moving fast.

She can?t understand why she can be married to Hugh for twenty years and just look at Whit, aka Brother Thomas, and want to make passionate love to him and run away and get married. She tries frantically to figure out why her mother would take a meat cleaver and chop off her finger and then try to bury it in the garden. If this were not all confusing enough she has a daughter in college who is wondering what is happening to her supposedly happily married parents.

Egret Island is filled with natural beauty, eccentric friends., like the Gullah lady, Kat and Benne and mysteries that linger. Jessie had been filled with deep guilt for years because she gave her adored father the pipe that caused a spark that blew up his boat the Jes Sea. But why is her father?s pipe in her mother?s private drawer? Father Dominic seems to know something about her mother?s act of mutilation which she doesn?t. But Father isn?t telling. He thinks these things better left alone. On the other hand, Hugh , her psychiatrist husband wants to come to the island and work with her mother, but Jessie , to her own surprise, shuts him off abruptly. She wants to work on this one herself.

Jessie?s art transforms into something entirely different from the art boxes she has been doing. Now she is painting mermaids and diving ladies in wild erotica and whimsy. Her art seems to change as her whole life changes. Where is it all leading? Can she just throw away her marriage and run off with a monk? Can this monk forget his spiritual journey and dedication to God to devote his life to
her? Will the wishes and prayers made while sitting in the mermaid chair really come true? Will the patron saint of the island, St. Senara, reveal the secrets held for so long? And who is Jessie, really? Apparently, this trip to Egret Island is all about this question.

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