By Kelly Bridgewater
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.
I have been a huge fan of C.S. Lewis's writing for a long time. I have written two graduate level research essays when I was in graduate school about C. S. Lewis's writing. So when I heard someone wanted to write a fictionalized story about Joy, C. S. Lewis's one and only wife, I was intrigued. I have read a number of novels by C. S. Lewis and his biographers who have written about her and her importance to C. S. Lewis. I'm really glad I picked up Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. This is definitely a wonderful story.
England is a huge bucket list place for me to visit. I want to visit the pub where Lewis and Tolkien sat and wrote. I want to visit his home. I even want to take a tour of Oxford University and observe where his office was. Callahan does wonderful job at making me homesick for a country I haven't ever been to. She does a fabulous job at describing just what I need to see and what I need to focus on. She brought the world of London and Oxford alive for Joy and for me.
I didn't know all the back history to Joy, but it was nice to see that she was a normal person too with her first horrible marriage and how hard it was for her to handle motherhood and being a writer at the same time. I liked how Callahan humanized Lewis too. She didn't shy away from some of his vises like smoking a cigar and drinking a little with dinner or after dinner. I wonder if a lot of Christians are going to be turned away from that aspect of him because of his Christian beliefs. I know my mother would be. I really liked the imagination of the lion and the aspect he represented to Lewis and Joy.
The only problem I have with the plot is the element of the letters back and forth between Joy to Lewis and Joy to Bill. They were erupt and jarring when they first started. I still had a hard time knowing when they started and when they ended. Maybe this will be fixed in the final copy, but as for my ARC, it didn't flow well.
Overall, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan is a wonderful fictional story for fans of C. S. Lewis and his writings. Even if you are interested in Lewis's writing, then this might be the book for you. I fell into London with the story and had a hard time putting the novel down. I highly recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis. A novel to sit next to my other Lewis books.
I received a complimentary copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars