October 2, 2018
Blurb: 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.
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
I have always found that the best books leave the word “more” in your mind. More of that novel, more of that author, or more of the topic. In the case of Becoming Mrs. Lewis, because I have read most of Patti Callahan (Henry)’s novels, the more relates to Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis whose love story is told within the pages and is interwoven with philosophy and discussion.
I knew nothing of Joy Davidman and little of C.S. Lewis so I arrived to their story as an objective newcomer. Callahan does a wonderful job of showing what it must have been like to be Joy Davidman, an intellectual woman and writer in the 1950s, when women still had to go the extra mile to prove that they could be and were intellectual equals to men.
Through correspondence Davidman and Lewis develop an affection for each other that increases when Davidman goes to England to heal from continuous bouts of sickness and fatigue. Their love represents something of the intellectual’s ideal of love: falling for thoughts and concepts and philosophy as well as the individual.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis is about human beings with their foibles and about the search for an understanding of God. Davidman is presented as a gifted, self-aware woman who submits that she is far from perfect. Her previous marriage to an alcoholic writer given to fits of rage as well as parents who were quick to tell her she frequently wasn’t good enough left her with insecurity and self-esteem issues. However, despite this, she also seems to possess enviable self-confidence.
While parts of Becoming Mrs. Lewis dragged a bit for me, I was also frequently mesmerized by many of the passages, which left me wanting to know more. Callahan’s portrayal of Davidman is intriguing. On the last page, I definitely felt as if I had read one of life’s great love stories. And, I will, of course, seek out more.
If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, Joy Davidman, and/or historical fiction, I highly recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
Thanks to Ms. Callahan and Thomas Nelson Fiction for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 butterflies