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Publisher's Summary

"Mrs. Flax was happiest when she was leaving a place, but I wanted to stay put long enough to fall down crazy and hear the Word of God. I always called my mother Mrs. Flax."

So begins this extraordinary first novel about one wild year in the life of 14-year-old Charlotte Flax, when she and her sister Kate move with Mrs. Flax into a sleepy 1960's Massachusetts town. Mrs. Flax is a woman who wears polka-dot dresses and serves hors d'oeuvres for dinner every night, and Kate is a child who basically wants to be a fish.

And then there's Charlotte, who in Patty Dann's hands, is transformed into a young woman of infinite whim and variety. Charlotte's main ambition in life is to become a saint, preferably martyred, though she's Jewish. She's smitten with the shy young caretaker at the convent at the top of the hill. Dann has created a young girl who accepts the unkindness of the mad universe in which she's whirling and takes it on with a savage glee.

Charlotte Flax is like no one you have ever met - and someone you know very well.

©1986 Patty Dann (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Mermaids

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Finally!

Oh gosh. I got so unbelievably excited when I saw that this was finally going to be available from Audible. When I was a teenager I was in LOVE with this movie. Who didn't secretly want a mom like Cher? But I was still pretty hesitant going into this - 80s cheesiness is one thing. The idea of "seeing" this in print was kind of scary. After all, what if the movie were better, or worse yet, what if the book hadn't held up over the years?

I'm here to tell you that the book and the movie are both equally good. This is a horse of a different color to be sure, but after listening to it I can honestly say that one doesn't eclipse the other. They're both basically their own thing. And as far as I'm concerned Charlotte's coming of age story is just as funny and touching now as it was when it was first written.

I can honestly say I wasn't expecting this book to be as fun as it was. There were moments when I was laughing out loud on my commute to work, and there were moments where I just wanted to sit and be still for a moment because Patty Dann made me remember what it was like to be young, when you felt so much and the world seemed so big. Charlotte is unique in the world of teen fiction. She's the type of character you can see evolving right before your eyes. I loved seeing how she learned to navigate the world around her

Over all this was a great listen. I got everything I wanted from it and then some. Recommended!


A big Thank You to the staff at Audible for making this happen!

5 people found this helpful

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Artful, Confusing

Beautiful writing, abrupt ending, not enough insight into characters, too plot-driven. Memorable, but unfilfilling...I'm still on the fence.

1 person found this helpful

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Narrator was Perfect!!

Mermaids was a nice little novel—not my favorite of my recent listens, but definitely credit-worthy. It is short and sweet, and full of a lot of funny, laugh-out-loud moments! Plus I thought the narrator was perfect for this particular story, and she did a great job. It was an entertaining way to spend a few hours—

1 person found this helpful

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Coming of Age Never Gets Old

Remember "Mermaids" the movie with Winona Ryder as the fierce 14 year old heroine, Christina Ricci in tadpole stage, and— Cher?

Yes, we recall Cher closing her eyes and pinning the map for their next move. Actor Bob Hoskins creating a "magical mermaid bedroom" for the girls. Baby Christina Ricci nearly drowning in a creek because Winona is getting her first kiss! Who can forget the Shoop-shoop song?

Well, this excellent book by Patty Dann gave birth to that movie, and it’s as poignant as ever. Coming-of-age never gets old.

Dann's novel is better than its cinematic counterpart. The characters are so well drawn, so identifiable, it’s like reaching into the past and shaking hands with old friends and neighbors.

3 people found this helpful

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One of the rare times a movie is better than the book...

I recently watched Mermaids the film again after not having seen it for several years, and found I enjoyed it just as much as I had the first time I saw it, with amazing performances from Cher, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci in the lead roles. I had never known it was an adapted screenplay from a novel until I paid attention to the credits, and was excited to find the original book here on Audible. The story is strong and the movie uses much of the direct dialogue and characters from the book, but I didn’t feel the role of Mrs. Flax was anywhere near as interesting or as well-rounded in the book as it was in the movie. In the book, she seems flighty, irresponsible and removed, and there seems to be no reasons given as to why Mrs Flax believes what she does, why she moves around so much, what her reasoning is or what she’s trying to avoid by doing it. Her unconventionality seems to be solely driven by impulse. Her character and motivations are much more fleshed out in the movie. Plus, I found the vague addition and introduction of Charlotte’s father here - who sort of is a character but then weirdly never is - to be purely extraneous and distracting; I felt they handled it much better in the movie by simply indicating he was gone for good, and this also explained Mrs. Flax’s behaviors and distrust of men as well as Charlotte’s need for a father figure to make much more sense. This has the great “bones” for a story, but if you want to truly enjoy it, I suggest watching the film, where the screenwriters took a good idea and interesting characters and turned them into something much more compelling than the writer did here.

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GOOD STORY. I WAS ENTERTAINED.

What made the experience of listening to Mermaids the most enjoyable?

I LIKED THE FUNNY IDEAS THAT CHARLOTTE HAD ABOUT SEX AND LOVE. SHE WAS AN ADOLESSENT GIRL WHO WAS KINDA QUIRKY.

I LIKED THE STORY VERY MUCH.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Mermaids?

WHEN CHARLOTTE WAS TALKING TO SISTER SUPERIOR AT THE CONVENT. ALSO SOME OF THE THINGS CHARLOTTE WAS THINKING MADE ME SMILE. KIDS ARE FUNNY AND THIS BOOK DID A GREAT JOB IN JUST TELLING A FUN STORY.

What does Elizabeth Evans bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO HAVE SOME ONE READ TO YOU. SHE HAD A GOOD VOICE FOR THIS JOB!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES I DID. IT WAS A SHORT BOOK AND I READ IT ALL THIS EVENING.

1 person found this helpful