Book Write-Up: Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan. Becoming Mrs. Lewis. Thomas Nelson, 2018. See here to purchase the book.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a novel about Joy Davidman’s relationship with C.S. Lewis, the renowned Christian academic, apologist, and author. Joy Davidman married C.S. Lewis and died of cancer during their marriage.

This book is written from the perspective of Joy Davidman, and each chapter opens with a quotation from her writings, as she was an author in her own right. The book starts with a brief prologue about her childhood, then it jumps to her first marriage to the author Bill Gresham, who is unfaithful to her and is struggling to stay sober with Alcoholics Anonymous. Joy undergoes a conversion to Christianity. She develops a relationship with C.S. Lewis, in letters and later in person, and it is initially Platonic, though she finds herself to be infatuated with him from the beginning. The book details her insecurities in her marriage to Bill and in her relationship with C.S. Lewis. It ends with the aftermath of her death.

The book had interesting details. It shares how C.S. Lewis got the nickname “Jack.” It was also noteworthy that Lewis’ brother, Warnie, had literary projects in his own right. Joy’s mother was entertaining: she still thought every man was physically attracted to her!

What I especially liked about this book was that the relationship between Joy and C.S. Lewis was so affable, and both C.S. Lewis and Warnie were friendly and approachable people. As I read this book, I continually compared it to the movie Shadowlands, starring Anthony Hopkins. C.S. Lewis in that movie came across as rather stuffy and snobbish, and Joy rebuked him for creating a world in which nobody could challenge him. This book had none of that. C.S. Lewis was open, humble, and self-deprecating. Joy often was unconvinced by C.S. Lewis’ platitudes and had her share of frustrations within the relationship, but she still enjoyed his company. There is a saying, “Don’t meet your heroes,” but, if C.S. Lewis was like he was in this book, I would have loved to have met him. The saying does apply to the book’s portrayal of Tolkein, however, for Tolkein in the book comes across as no-nonsense and gruff.

Patti Callahan received input from Joy’s Davidman’s son, Douglas Gresham, and she also discusses the new developments in research in the last decade, as new documents have been discovered.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers. My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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