Suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed both The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees (comments also below), which is receiving so much press right now with the movie coming out. Between listening to my audio book and seeing movie commercials, Sue Monk Kidd has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
I'd love to read another of her novels, because her writing seems like what would speak to me right now, and I was sad when I looked her up to look up find that she hasn't written any more. She's written a number of nonfiction title, most notably The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, but I'm steering away from them. I'm sure that they are fine (and interesting), but that's not what I want from her as an author.
As a reader I respond much more strongly to fiction than I do to nonfiction. I'm also much more likely to loose patience or to skim nonfiction writings. I do like nonfiction, but I don't assume that I'll like an author's nonfiction writings just because I like their fiction.
For Sue Monk Kidd, I think I'll hold off for another novel. I want her imagined worlds rather than her real one. From her, I think that I'm much more likely to be inspired by her subtly through her story-weaving. But, that's just me.
My reaction to The Mermaid Chair, circa December 2005:
I enjoyed this book. It was a quick read. I loved the island and the monastery (although I am not sure that Kidd’s depiction of monastic life is accurate). The combination of myth, legend, and religion in the book is quite wonderful. I also liked how things came together with the explanation of the mother's madness and the father's death. The ending was perfect, although the romantic in me wishes there had been a happily-ever-after for the lovers.My reaction to The Secret Life of Bees, circa February 2006:
What a lovely book!
Beautifully written and easy to read.
I loved the strong female characters in this book and the "dream world" Lily is able to make for herself with the "calendar sisters".