Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

30 Jan

In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice.

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis — known as Jack— she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

In this masterful exploration of one of the greatest love stories of modern times, we meet a brilliant writer, a fiercely independent mother, and a passionate woman who changed the life of this respected author and inspired books that still enchant us and change us. Joy lived at a time when women weren’t meant to have a voice — and yet her love for Jack gave them both voices they didn’t know they had.

At once a fascinating historical novel and a glimpse into a writer’s life, Becoming Mrs. Lewis is above all a love story — a love of literature and ideas and a love between a husband and wife that, in the end, was not impossible at all.

Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels, including the historical fiction, Becoming Mrs. Lewis – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis.

A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is published in numerous languages. Her articles and essays have appeared in Southern Living, PINK, Writer’s Digest, Portico Magazine, Birmingham Magazine and more.

Her essays can also be found in anthologies and collections such as Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy; Southern Writers Writing, and State of the Heart. Patti is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups.

Growing up in Philadelphia as the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Patti learned early the value of storytelling. At the age of twelve, her family moved to South Florida where Patti found the sanctuary of libraries and began her slow but steady journey into understanding the power of story to navigate confusing times in life.

Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work, and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

My Impressions:

My book club chose Becoming Mrs. Lewis mainly because of the C. S. Lewis connection. Some of us have watched Shadowlands, while most have read at least one of Lewis’ books. We chose it sight unseen, as it were, relying only on the title. I am eager to hear what the others in my group thought about it, but first I will share my own thoughts.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is billed as historical fiction, as it details the life of Joy Davidman and her relationship with C.S. Lewis. It is indeed historical in nature, how could it not be, but I would describe it as biographical fiction, since it is told in the first person voice of Joy Davidman. While this was very effective in relating to her character, I had to remind myself over and over that this book is fiction. The emotions portrayed and the scenes depicted are so realistic, that the book can easily be believed as coming directly from Davidman’s own private journals. Yet as the author states in the Afterword, no correspondence between Davidman and Lewis exists. Callahan did a commendable job in distilling the articles and books written about the pair, as well as transcripts of others’ recollections and letters, and speeches given by the two. She uses the published works of both Davidman and Lewis to piece together what their life looked like. And this intimate novel does just that.

The story that emerges is a fascinating journey of faith and love. Davidman’s relationship with Lewis is at the forefront, but the most moving scenes of this book are her encounters with God. Her life was messy and sorrow-filled, yet touched with the grace of God. But if you are fan of traditional Christian fiction, you may be surprised or even offended by Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I was not. Too often the christian life is viewed as a one time salvation experience that instantly changes one from sinful to holy. And yes, when saved by Jesus, we take on His righteousness — His being the operative word. Unfortunately for most, if not all of us, we struggle with the same old sin nature, the desires of our flesh, and the influence of our world and experiences. Joy wrestled with that, for which I am thankful to the author. Here was a woman who was influential in Christian circles in her own right, but also was a large influence on the later writings of Lewis. But she continued to be flawed and falling, yet ever loved by God. That is how I would describe Joy Davidman, and how I would describe myself.

There is a lot of drinking in the book; some casual/social and some to excess and abuse. There is talk of sex and affairs and fleshly desires. And that might not appeal to all readers of CF, but it is a realistic portrayal of a life that strived to live for God. I recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis wholeheartedly.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the Kindle version of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

9 Responses to “Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis”

  1. Lindsey P. Brackett January 30, 2019 at 10:55 am #

    Love this review Beckie! Patti is one of my favorite authors–and writers to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. bellesmoma16 January 30, 2019 at 11:45 am #

    Love your review. I can’t wait to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rbclibrary January 30, 2019 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks! Hope you love it!

      Like

  3. Jaymi at OrangeCountyReaders January 30, 2019 at 10:37 pm #

    Great review 🤔

    Like

  4. Barbara H. February 1, 2019 at 5:46 pm #

    I have this on hand as an audiobook. Looking forward to getting to it.

    Like

    • rbclibrary February 1, 2019 at 6:08 pm #

      I’d love to know what you think about the audiobook. I almost chose it over the ebook.

      Like

  5. carhicks February 6, 2019 at 6:29 pm #

    Wonderful review. This sounds like one that I would really enjoy.

    Like

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