Tag Archives: C.S. Lewis

Anyone Want a Sneak Peek Into C.S. Lewis’ Incredible Friendship/Romance/Marriage??? Don’t Miss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan

Friends! You do not want to miss this beautifully written novel about the lives of C.S. Lewis and the courageous woman who became his bride, Joy Davidman Gresham. I was captivated immediately, even tho’ I knew the outcome, I still wanted to see how it would shake out.

While this book is fiction, author Patti Callahan says her research helped her be as accurate as possible. Joy’s son, Douglas was also a great resource. Her writing completely transports us readers from America to London to Oxford, watching this unlikely romance transpire. Her captivating style, many times poetic and lyrical, makes for a primo reading experience.

We meet Joy while she lives in the United States, married to a man named Bill Gresham. They have two sons: Douglas and David. Their marriage crashes on the rocks, many scenes painful to read.

But Joy’s faith is about to take a huge leap. Consulting a colleague, he suggests she write to C.S. Lewis, who in turn, writes back. They develop an improbable friendship.

The first sentence of Becoming Mrs. Lewis sets the stage: “From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.” As in Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia who equates, as we discover, to our own Lord, Jesus Christ.

I confess while reading the books to our boys as a young mom, I had no clue of the characters’ spiritual significance! And to be honest, I think we only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You can guess I’m about to dive back in and read all seven of them!

Plus, we readers learn C.S. Lewis dedicated Book # 3, The Horse and His Boy, to Douglas and David Gresham. Joy’s sons indeed had been reading The Chronicles of Narnia and were clearly excited about meeting the writer/creator of these works. It is beyond exciting to hear the boys speak about meeting Mr. Lewis and to ultimately watch them develop a relationship. Very endearing.

The Magician’s Nephew, interesting enough, is #1 of the series now according to chronological order. Publication order has The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first as it came out in 1950. We learn that shortly after C.S. Lewis’ death, British editions began appearing that were numbered chronologically. Lewis scholars, however, agree that publication order makes more sense.

Back to the novel…Joy’s conversion experience is breathtaking. It happens early in the novel, after the birth of her second child. We find her on her knees praying after declaring she was an atheist (!!!):

Eventually, Joy and Jack (as his friends called C.S. Lewis) meet in person for lunch in Oxford. She also gets to meet Jack’s brother, Warnie, at another lunch gathering. Another of their meetings included Jack’s friend J.R. R. Tolkien, “Tollers,” who didn’t appear to think much of Joy. (Can you imagine meeting Tolkien and Lewis together???)

She inquires about Jack’s and Tollers’ friendship, as Tollers was who led Jack to faith. Jack said, “As with any good friend, we have many of those moments when one turns to the other and says, ‘You, too?’” (That particular quote I use in every chapter of my book on friendship. Love it!)

Joy’s healing sabbatical returns her to the states (she constantly fights health issues), to find that her cousin who stayed with her husband has become his lover ultimately landing Joy and Bill a divorce. She manages to take their boys with her, and returns to England.

Joy finds a place to live (neat story), a boarding school for the boys, and settles in to a lovely life of writing, editing (sometimes for Warnie and sometimes for Jack—can you fathom?), all the while trying to sell her writing. Challenges occur around every turn, but they don’t stop her.

Soon Joy and the boys get to go to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis’ home is. He and Warnie live there, with a gardener, Paxford, and a cook, Mrs. Williams. You will love all of them.  Life at the Kilns for the boys is a little like Narnia, seemingly.

We also learn Jack reads a Bible, sometimes in the original Greek, and sometimes in Latin every morning. His office where he worked was “crammed from corner to ceiling with books, stacked and line up on floors and tables and bookshelves.” This is one of many examples of the delightful and highly visual details Patti gives us readers.

I felt a little like movie goers of Mary Poppins, when the characters were allowed to jump into the sidewalk chalk picture. Author Patti invites us in, gifting us with a for-real peek into the life and beautiful friendship/romance between Joy and Jack.

Many of you know Jack’s mother and Joy, his wife, died of cancer. Because he loved his mother so and was saddened over losing her, perhaps that’s why it takes him EONS to own his love for Joy. So in many ways, you want to continue in the story, and yet you don’t for fear of what will transpire. Grab a bunch of Kleenex, too, as it’s beautiful and terribly sad simultaneously. Don’t miss their steadfast faith—a great lesson for all of us during suffering.

That’s all I’ll share, you need to be the one to dive in. When you do finish, you’ll want to immediately research where the boys are, what they’re doing, find many of the books mentioned and read them, especially the ones Joy and Jack worked on together. Oh, my friend, I predict this is just the beginning of a new reading adventure for you!

Here are a couple of the books I’m about to hunt down:

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Becoming Mrs. Lewis! You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

P.S. Here is the Publication Order, FYI:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)


2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)


4. The Silver Chair (1953)


5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)


6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)


7. The Last Battle (1956)

 

Advertisements

Comments Off on Anyone Want a Sneak Peek Into C.S. Lewis’ Incredible Friendship/Romance/Marriage??? Don’t Miss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan

Filed under Book Reviews

Wander with Wonder…(Managing your Margin: Part 3 of 4)

Close your eyes….

Now open them.

Wide Eye See anything different?

“Are you crazy?” you may be asking…Please hang with me for a minute…

This week we’ll focus on another element of margin:

The spiritual discipline of simply opening your eyes afresh, looking for a miracle or blessing, every day. Dr. Matthew Sleeth says, “I can tell you from experience that if you don’t look, you will not find them. And if you don’t jot them down, you will forget them.”

In Blessed Earth’s most recent newsletter (www.blessedearth.org ), Matthew discusses Spring’s arrival, bringing with it “dogwoods singing out with their living Celtic crosses, all served up on a plate of viridian green. It’s easy to spot miracles when the entire hemisphere comes to life—but really they are everywhere, and all the time.”

gardens at Chateau Kierwan

This beautiful “window” into a garden was a surprise find to us one night at Chateau Kierwan, near Pauillac, France where we had dinner. Magnificent discovery!

Matthew recommends an experiment to try for just one month: “Every day take note of (or a photo of) just one miracle. On Sunday, spend a little time reviewing the list. Then thank God…We do not need more wonders—just a greater sense of wonderment.” Wander with Wonder.

Matthew is an expert on Sabbath keeping, learning about it the hard way just as Mark Buchanan did. His book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life is a must-read. (I wrote about it last year: Get Over the Guilt and Grab a Nap—Beating Busyness: Part 4 of 4)

24-6 Sleeth

Ann Voskamp is another advocate of looking for blessings and writing them down. Her book is also a must-read: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She maintains writing down your blessings, small or large, creates contentment many times we’d otherwise forget.

One Thousand Gifts

Gratitude, giving thanks, along with a vocabulary “full of grace” fulfills our soul and multiplies joy. John Piper offers, “There are eyes in pencils and in pens.” Friends, let’s open our eyes! Wander with wonder!

My favorite quote from Ann addresses “the cure against thanklessness’s bite: The remedy is in the retina. How we behold determines if we hold joy. Behold glory and be held by God.”

William Shakespeare said, “Thou art alive still—While thy booke doth live and we have wits to read and praise to give.”

Quote and pic of Shakespear

Walking across a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, near the magnificent Notre Dame, John and I happily landed in front of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Now that would go down in one’s gratitude journal if one were a book lover like yours truly! Books are in every nook and cranny in this charming bookstore. Wander with wonder.

umbrella in front of shakespear

Note the brand-new umbrella adorned with Eiffel Towers (Can you say, “tourist”???) we snagged for a mere seven Euros. Ah, but it kept us dry and better able to keep our eyes ready for more wonderment.

Let’s return to Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Mark touches on our subject of wandering with wonder when he says, “I don’t want to just carry on. I want to learn more and more to practice, here, now, always, the quality of awareness that I knew…I want to learn to pass through a day without passing it by.”

The Rest of God

Mark says, “The essence of Sabbath is paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment. “

You won’t believe this from Chapter 3: “Louis Aggasiz, Harvard’s renowned biologist, returned one September to his classroom and announced to his students that he had spent the summer traveling. He had managed, he said, to get halfway across his backyard. To those with eyes to see, that’s enough. Everywhere we turn, wonders never cease.” Wander with wonder.

field of rapeseed

Aboard the fast TGV enroute to Paris from Bordeaux, John and I saw field, after field, after field of rapeseed. While this was a cloudy day and we took this picture thru’ the window of the train, you can get an idea of the brilliant yellow hues that stood out like sunshine in the countryside.

Mark gives an analogy, that, while laugh-out-loud funny, slightly stings: “One day is as good as another for practicing this kind of attentiveness. We all know people so self-absorbed and obtuse that they would miss the apocalypse if it happened in their living rooms.” Been there. Sigh…

And, here are just a few of Mark’s killer questions I promised you last week:

“Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go?

If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?

How much do I care about the things I care about?

And how have I grown content…?”

May we do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Watching for miracles, blessings, and wandering with wonder is the best way to do that.

Mark recommends, “Consider your ways. That’s a wise Sabbath Liturgy. And let me make it more specific: consider your thoughts and attitudes.” 

Mark shares a wonderful scene from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,  part of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. “The children Peter, Edmond, Susan and Lucy all find themselves in Narnia after a long absence from Aslan, the great king and lion.” Lucy is who finds him first with great emotion and relief:

prince_caspian

Aslan says, “Welcome, child.”

“Aslan,” says Lucy, “you’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

Mark says, “That’s a perfect description of those who train themselves in God’s goodness and sovereignty: Every year you grow, you find him bigger. The best way I know to embody this Godward orientation is thankfulness.”

Saint Sulpice Church Service

After visiting the Luxembourg Gardens, John and I  happened upon St. Sulpice Church. They were in the middle of a church service. The hush over the crowd in the candlelit cavernous altar was awe-inspiring.

Attendees didn’t just genuflect, they fully, deliberately knelt prior to finding a spot on a pew which made our visit amazingly worshipful. Prayers, songs and a message in French was beyond beautiful. This was one of many gifts we found along our walk that day.

In Front of Saint Sulplice

Here’s the outside of the church. It’s modeled after St. Paul’s in London…Wonder-filled architectural details.

May we all wander in the wonder.

‘Til next time!

 

3 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Margin, Travel