“From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together. I see that now. The fierce and tender beast drew us to each other, slowly, inexorably, across time, beyond an ocean, and against the obdurate bulwarks of our lives. He wouldn’t make it easy for us – that’s not his way.”

Opening lines of Becoming Mrs Lewis by Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan writes Becoming Mrs Lewis from the first-person biographical perspective of Joy Davidman who, over several years, goes from pen pal to wife of the famous C.S. Lewis.

The letters focus on the journey from atheism to Christianity as Joy works through the life difficulties of living out the Word. Much of her world in America is broken, her marriage and the economy included. C.S. Lewis, known as Jack, walks her through scriptures and offers friendship. Their connection deepens and develops into an in-person friendship and, finally, marriage.

Knowing all this before the book began, I hoped to gain insight into the discussions they had on Christianity, on being authors and on overcoming life’s challenges. I didn’t anticipate the intense descriptions and the moment by moment account of Joy’s day to day life. I’m not one who particularly enjoys this style of storytelling but, if it appeals to you, this is a well-written one. Joy’s life has very little joy and light in it, even in the end with Jack, so I found the story meandering and depressing. Bearing that in mind, I can only give it a three out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale,

From the back cover:

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 received a complimentary copy of the book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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