Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

They’d been tamed beyond their wild nature…and I knew that capture had damaged their souls.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered every time. “We were meant to be free.”

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by author Patti Callahan: the story of Joy Davidman and the man who would one day be her husband, C. S. Lewis. Or Jack, to those who knew him.

Yes, it was my recognition of Lewis and his works, my fondness for Narnia, and my remembrance of A Grief Observed that drew my attention to this fictionalized account. But no, I wasn’t looking for a novel romanticizing or idolizing Davidman and Lewis as if they weren’t real, flawed human beings, more than just their well-known literature. To that point, I’m glad this isn’t a historical “romance.”

Even so, it’s one of those rare times when I can’t accurately rate how I feel about a book—and not only because I decided not to finish it (though I did read most of it.)

This author’s style is seasoned, unrushed, and rich, and there were moments in the reading that gave me wonderful pause. Joy as a girl, empathizing with lions in captivity. The idea that we wouldn’t get where we are without what we’ve gone through. Observing Joy, her children, and Jack, then going back to look at the dedication in one of my copies of Narnia and saying, “Ooohhh.” Contemplating a life beyond one’s own captivity: “What on earth would become of me if I should ever grow brave?”

And, of course, my writer self understanding so much about characters who are writers.

Yet, though I do enjoy dense novels when I can, this one was hard for me to keep pushing through. I found much of it depressing. A resolution here but then more despair there. Continual, increasing longing, going unfulfilled. I can appreciate stories of people slowly growing in love, but when it’s a moral dilemma, a constant struggle against a character’s conscience, it’s like reading about a whole lot of feelings that feel wrong. Once I got to Joy and Harry, I couldn’t push on much further.

I’m not sorry I gave this novel a chance, though.


5 thoughts on “Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

    • Nadine C. Keels says:

      *SPOILER ALERT* (I think.)

      A good question, though I’ll admit I didn’t expect anyone to ask it. 😀 I’ll further admit I included the “Harry” part for anyone reading my review who will already have read the novel, as I know there are readers like me who check out reviews after finishing a book, to find out if others feel the same way about it.

      So this answer may be a bit of a spoiler if you’ve not read the novel yet and plan to do so… Last chance to stop reading my answer… But, um, I’m referring to the Harry with whom Joy has an affair. She spends so much of the book feeling wrong about her feelings for Jack, and then she feels wrong about sleeping with Harry while she’s in love with Jack and estranged from Will (the man she’s still technically married to, unless her divorce is final at that point but she hasn’t told the reader yet.) It was all understandable but made the book increasingly depressing and disturbing for me, so the Harry part is where I decided to stop reading. 🙂


    • Sascha Darlington says:

      Thanks, Nadine. Poor Harry, for me, he was a blip, the modern equivalent of a sex buddy, so I’m afraid I passed him over. I must confess that I was far more interested in how Callahan would have Lewis finally acknowledge his love for Joy. The last chapter was beautifully written, if you ever think you might want to back and give, at least the last chapter, a try. (Sorry for the lateness of the reply. I’ve been sick.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nadine C. Keels says:

      I don’t have the book anymore, but I did skip to read a little chunk of pages at the end before I parted ways with it. Callahan is indeed a skilled writer.

      Sorry to hear you’ve been sick! Do take care. 🙂


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