Jessie gets a call from her aunt summoning her home to deal with a family emergency. Jessie grew up on an island off the coast of South Carolina with her mom, dad, and brother until a tragic boat explosion took her father when she was only 10. Since then, the family was never the same. Jessie escaped the island the first chance she got, got married to Hugh and had a daughter. But when she finds out that her mother has purposely cut off a finger, Jessie needs to return to the island and face the past.
When Jessie gets to her mother's house, there's a lot of emotions in that house. Jessie knows something is wrong with her marriage and is trying to re-find herself. Her mother is obviously struggling with a very deep grief. The two aren't good at confronting each other so they just dance around each other for the majority of the book.
Also on the island is a monastery where monks live and the island famous mermaid chair sits. As a child, Jessie was in awe of the mermaid chair and things haven't changed. Finding her mother there one night, she also first sees Brother Thomas and instantly falls in love with him, causing further turmoil in her marriage.
The love story of this book bothered me from the start. Jessie and Brother Thomas see each other, exchange no more than a sentence or two, and decide they are in love with each other? None of the rest of the book read like a fairy tale so not sure why the author went down this path. The internal struggle they both had on whether to accept the relationship was interesting, coming from two completely different points of view.
I know others have not enjoyed this book because it doesn't compare to Sue Monk Kidd's other book, The Secret Life of Bees. Having not read that book before, I had nothing to compare this one to. It was very easy to get in to and though I didn't love the story, it was a good enough read to keep me engaged the entire book.
First Line: "In the middle of my marriage, when I was above all Hugh's wife and Dee's mother, one of those unambiguous women with no desire to disturb the universe, I fell in love with a Benedictine monk."