I was again impressed with Kidd’s amazing ability to provide such vivid imagery in “The Mermaid Char.” Jessie reluctantly goes home to care for her mother, who has just chopped off her finger. As Jessie learns more about the events surrounding her father’s death, she begins questioning the mysterious way he died and how it relates to her mother’s dismemberment. Stuck in a middle life rut, she surprises herself when she falls in love with a monk who lives in the monastery next door to her mother’s house. The mermaid theme seeps through the book in various ways, and at all the right times. This theme gives the story a mystical element that makes the book unique and playful. Even though the story discussed serious subjects, it was a whimsical journey that was perfect for summer.
There was a significant emphasis on things that happened in the past, and for most of the first 100 pages, Jessie is remembering all sorts of things about her family. Sometimes these memories were crucial to the plot, and sometimes not. The constant reflections began to wear on me, and I found myself irritated with the stories about her brother, which dragged slightly. For all the emphasis placed on describing Jessie’s childhood, Kidd made the relationships between Jessie, her husband, and the monk a little too convenient, with things happening very quickly without much build up. In this sense the book followed a fairytale plot because the reader just needs to go along with the events that happen. Ultimately, the book was satisfying, and a reader would be pleased with the final choices of all the characters.
I liked the book very much, and would recommend it, especially as a summer read. Kidd’s writing made me taste the salt in the air and feel the ocean breeze. I do think that the book appeals to a slightly more mature audience. I don’t know that someone right out of college would relate to Jessie as much as a woman who is a bit older and married, for example.