A Modern Day Fairy Tale

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Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan {A Book Review}

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.”
“Luminous and penetrating.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author
New expanded edition includes:
  • a map of Oxford
  • an expanded discussion guide with 20+ questions for book clubs
  • a timeline of Jack's and Joy's Lives
  • Joy's (imagined) letter to Jack
  • 10 Things You May Not Know About Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis's Love Story
  • a behind-the-scenes essay: Oxford—The City
In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice. 
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.

Patti Callahan (who also writes as Patti Callahan Henry) is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, has been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, and blogs. Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband. Visit her online at patticallahanhenry.com; Instagram: pattichenry; Facebook: AuthorPattiCallahanHenry; Twitter: @pcalhenry.

Like many readers, I have been a fan of C.S. Lewis since I was a child, burying myself in his Chronicles of Narnia series. While those are certainly my favorite, I have read a few of his other works through the years as well. I must admit though, I really didn't know much (okay, anything at all) about his personal life. When I first heard about Becoming Mrs. Lewis over a year ago, I was intrigued. I'd added it to my TBR list, but had never actually gotten around to crossing it off. When I was that there was a new expanded edition out, I knew it was time to move it to the top of the list.

To be 100% honest, if this were a completely fictional story with made up characters, I likely wouldn't have enjoyed it quite as much. It's certainly not your typical Christian romance novel type of love story. When the story begins, Joy is married to someone else---and while he is far from a loving and devoted spouse himself, she did start to develop feelings for C.S. Lewis (whom she called Jack) while still married. Again, if this were an entirely fictional story, I perhaps wouldn't have read any further. But it's not. It is a fictionalized story of the real relationship between the two... and real life? Well, it's a lot more messy than fictional love stories. It might not be quite what I was expecting... but it is life.

Despite that rather rocky start, I must admit I really enjoyed reading their story. As I said, I didn't know the first thing about C.S. Lewis's personal life and nothing of Joy even by name, and so it was really interesting to get that little glimpse. I was drawn into their world thanks to the author's fantastic storytelling through Joy's perspective. Yes, it is fictional, but it was well researched, as the added resources in the expanded version allow us to see. More than anything, I enjoyed their great friendship and watching it grow slowly throughout the year until it would eventually become more.

I don't believe this will be everyone's cup of tea, as I have said it doesn't read like your typical book from the genre. It's clean in that there are no graphic descriptions, but still more implied than perhaps is typical in Christian works and again does deal with adultery and divorce. While I still enjoyed it myself, I can certainly see where some more conservative readers might not. Still, if you are a fan of C.S Lewis (or Joy Davidman, of course), this is one that is definitely worth checking out. 


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