Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan

C.S. Lewis is the author of the popular Narnia series and other works. My children enjoyed listening to the series as books which I read aloud, as well as audio books during trips.

Additionally, I have read Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, his autobiography Surprised By Joy, and my recent favourite, his Till We Have Faces; A Myth Retold, a reimagining of the Cupid and Psyche story.

Having been initiated into the world of Lewis, I wondered about this previous Oxford Don and long-time bachelor. The novel, Becoming Mrs. Lewisis a worthwhile read on several accounts: first, it has a great bibliography at the end elevating the novel to more of a scholarly investigation; and second, it shows a side of Lewis which is not usually explored by his adoring fans.

The bibliography provides many fun rabbit-trails for the curious to explore, such as books by Davidman’s son, other books by and about Lewis, and books by and about Davidman and Tolkien, Lewis’s friend. As for the enlightening bits, Callahan draws upon letters exchanged between Davidman and Lewis, love sonnets penned by Davidman, as well as other writings and lectures of Lewis. For instance, some suspect that he had an intimate relationship with Mrs. Moore before his conversion; this books tries to paint a realistic picture of the situation and Lewis’s opinion of Mrs. Moore which is not altogether benevolent.

The novel’s dialogue seems stilted at times, but I assume it is because the author did her best to piece together snippets from letters and other discourse. Of interest to me is also how Lewis lived out his Romantic beliefs (sehnsucht) of which he instills in his children’s literature (the music of Elfland– filled with longing for something more), while focused on moral character. The book includes mentions of his literary influences of nordic mythology and George MacDonald and others, as well as his wonderings about faith. I enjoyed the tidbit of how he preferred to attend an early service without the loud music (of the organ) and sit behind a pillar at chapel so the cleric could not see his face in case he disagreed with something in the sermon. The book, much to the publisher’s credit, does not gloss over questioning of faith, his quirks, nor the passion involved in this love story.

The book is a quick and enjoyable read.

Recommended for ages 14+

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Happy Reading!

DB

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