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Wine & Book Group Pick for April '06

abstract:Sue Monk Kidd is the chosen author for April's Wine and Book Group where we select a popular book group read and match delicious wines. The Mermaid Chair (Penguin Non-Classics March 2006) is Sue's follow-up novel to her bestselling first fiction, The Secret Life of Bees. The Mermaid Chair won the Quills Award 2005. Sue celebrates the feminine erotic in this transcendent story about a daughter who, upon returning home to help her mother, becomes sexually involved with a Benedictine monk. Filled with Sue's delicious use of metaphor, and mixing desire with the forbidden—you won't want to miss out.


April 01, 2006

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  • About The Author

    Sue was born in Sylvester, Georgia, and because she graduated from a Christian college, one would expect to see strong spiritual themes in her writing. After a short stint as a nurse she began to follow her first passion, writing, and had initial success writing for Guideposts Magazines.

    Sue describes this as a wonderful jumping-off point for her literary career, but as she matured Sue began to look for other spiritual connections, other feminine truths. What followed were memoirs exploring feminist theology that really started getting interesting when she published Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

    Next came her first book of fiction that became a runaway success, selling over 4 million copies and transporting her into a household (at least a book group household) name. There are passages in The Secret Life of Bees that are stylistically brilliant and can give shivers. Kidd drew upon her childhood for the young character, Lily Owens, who runs away from home and is taken in by a benevolent household of Black sisters with a mysterious connection to her mother's past. That book is now offered for study in university literature courses. [The film rights for The Secret Life of Bees have been optioned by Lauren Shuler Donner, producer of You've Got Mail and other major films.]

    "I don’t believe in muses in a literal way, but I do believe in the symbol, and in the process the symbol is attempting to describe. To find inspiration from a muse is to simply listen to the eloquent voice of life around us, to the steady stream of images that well up inside. It means going about our lives wide-eyed, open-hearted, given to wonder, curious, malleable, porous, attentive. It means being willing to be in-spired, which literally means to be breathed into. In a bygone time, ideas were thought of as little god-spirits floating about in the air."— SMK


    As in Bees, Monk conjures up another complex mother-daughter relationship in Mermaid, this time with roles reversed; Jesse Sullivan has been summoned when her mother, working in a monastery, inconceivably mutilates herself.

    Lots of taboo subjects are covered, including the corset-ripping scene with the handsome young priest on the beach. Ironically Jesse substitutes one traditional male dominant figure in her life for another, which causes the reader to question the interplay between power and the erotic, love and the divine. 

    Women & Wine

    Check back for our enophilic partner's inspired wine pairings at As well, this is the month that celebrity chef Joey Altman, star of the television food show Bay Cafe from San Francisco, devises delicious recipes to go with our book and to serve at your discussion. It all airs on network television.

    Previous Wine & Book Picks

    • March Memoirs of a Geisha set in Japan
    • February Get a Life set in South Africa
    • January The Shadow of the Wind set in Barcelona
    • December Pride and Prejudice set in England
    • November Beyond Measure set in Renaissance Italy
    • October Breakfast at Tiffany's set in New York



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