Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018 Publisher: Thomas Nelson Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: 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.
Thoughts: As a lover of The Chronicles of Narnia, I was fascinated to learn that there was a story written about the life of C.S. Lewis’ wife. I was intrigued to get some insight into the author from someone else’s point of view. To see the inner workings of his life and writing process… and I got it, but I also got so much more. The main aspect of the synopsis that stood out to me was the love story but there was another, and almost MORE, prevalent plot point in the way of discovery of faith. It was not something I was expecting and did cause me to have to wrap my mind around the fact that this story was more about Joy Davidman finding God and, in finding Him, leading her to finding Lewis. Or Jack to his friends. When all is said an done, there really isn’t much of the story where Joy and Jack are even in the same room but he is always on her mind. Becoming Mrs. Lewis follows Joy’s life from a glimpse of her childhood at the start, to learning about her early years after college, to growing her family and living in fear. Joy’s story is one of heroism, of finding her voice in a time where women were seen more as property than as people, of taking ownership of her life and uprooting everything to truly live. I was humbled by Joy’s journey and everything she dealt with. I could not get over the amount of strength that she possessed in light of everything. As a hopeless romantic, I was heartbroken at times but also left hopeful after reading other chapters. It was a lovely story to read and one that I am grateful to learn from. With all of the praise I give this book, I will admit that it did take me some time to get through. It was a good read but a long read. The chapters weren’t written in a way that lent itself to quick consumption for myself in particular. They were short but one chapter did not immediately lead into the next, it was more that each chapter was a snapshot of a moment in Joy’s life. In the Author’s Notes at the end, Callahan does state that much of the story was a fictionalized retelling of the life of Joy Davidman but she also used a ton of works as reference which included those provided by Joy’s children. Some parts of the writing could not fully be ‘known’ but if even half of it is true, I would consider Joy an inspiration to women as she was written so real and flawed but also strong and loving. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading the history of a strong leading woman, historical fiction, C.S. Lewis, literary history of the mid 1900’s (more than just a couple big author name drops), a coming of age story for those later in life… honestly, this book hits so many great points.