Sue Monk Kidd and Her Work
Sue Monk Kidd was born and raised in the tiny town of Sylvester, Georgia and lives beside a salt marsh near Charleston, SC. She worked as a surgical and pediatric nurse in her twenties. Later, after marriage and two children, she began attending writing classes.
Her personal essays were published in Guideposts Magazine and reprinted in Readers Digest. Her book Godís Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved (Guideposts, 1987) is a compilation of many of these essays. This started her career as a writer of personal experience with an inspiration bent.
Her book, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Lifeís Sacred Questions (Harper and Row, 1990) is a memoir and relates her personal crisis of faith. Her acclaimed spiritual memoir The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: a Womanís Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (Harper, 1996) relates her transition from her traditional Baptist upbringing to her discovery of nontraditional feminine religious experience.
In 2000 Kidd won a Poets and Writers Award and a Katherine Anne Porter Award for the story that began what would become her wildly popular first novel, The Secret Life of Bees (Viking Penguin, 2002). Kidd has pointed to two works: Walden by Henry David Thoreau and The Awakening by Kate Chopin and her study of Western spirituality, philosophy and mythology, particularly the life and work of poet/monk Thomas Merton and psychiatrist C.G. Jung, as influences for her writing and her life.
Kiddís newest novel The Mermaid Chair (Viking, 2005) weaves the tale of a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion. Main character, Jessie Sullivanís conventional life is changed by her motherís startling and enigmatic act of violence. What transpires when Jesse returns to her childhood home on Egret Island, SC, involves childhood traumatic memories, a Benedictine Brother with whom she falls in love, and an examination of her own life and art. Mermaid Chair has been on the New York Times bestseller list since its release in April 2005.
Secret Life of Bees and Mermaid Chair are available at your local Timberland Regional Library in hardback and paperback, large print, talking book, and Spanish language editions. Her non fiction titles are also available. You can learn more about Sue Monk Kidd and her work at her website www.suemonkkidd.com.
Sue Monk Kiddís Non-Fiction Books
Godís Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved (1987): Sue Monk Kidd describes this book as "a spiritual memoir which chronicled my early experiences with contemplative Christian spirituality." Full of historical and theological references, the section on prayer and meditative and spiritual contemplation is especially beautiful and sensitiveily written.
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Lifeís Sacred Questions (1990): Sue Monk Kidd relates the passionate and moving tale of her spiritual crisis at midlife, when life seemed to have lost meaning and how her longing for hasty escape from the pain yielded to a discipline of "active waiting." Sometimes compared to the writings of Thomas Merton, this book is now part of the canon on Christian spirituality.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (1996): With exceptional
storytelling skills, Sue Monk Kidd writes personally and passionately
about her own unexpected journey into feminine spirituality, identifying
the unseen path that women navigate in order to reclaim the wholeness
lost within patriarchal faith traditions. Kidd writes that this sense of
being affects every fundamental relationship in a womanís lifeó her
marriage, her career, and her religion.