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The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
The Mermaid Chair is set on a tiny island off the coast of South Carolina, where a monastery has a chair carved with mermaids and dedicated a saint who was supposedly once a mermaid. Jessie Sullivan leaves behind her husband to come back home to this island after her mother's violent and unexplained self-mutilation. Jessie finds herself relieved to be without her husband and also finds herself falling for Brother Thomas, a Benedictine monk about to take his final vows. Jessie embarks on a period of self-discovery while the secret of her father's death decades before appears to hold the key to her mother's actions. Sue Monk Kidd's second novel (after The Secret Life of Bees) has received mixed reviews with BookPage saying, "Reconciling the spiritual with the human, The Mermaid Chair is a captivating metaphorical and sensual journey into one woman's soul."