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Discussion on Becoming Mrs. Lewis

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Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee

Right, I've decided to take the plunge and read Becoming Mrs Lewis for myself — I've bought the 2019 HarperCollins paperback (published in the UK), and guess what, as far as I can see, it doesn't include that misquote! The only quote in the front of it is from J.R.R. Tolkien's On Fairy-Stories, and all the quotes at the beginnings of chapters seem to be from Joy's own poems (presumably accurately quoted).

As I haven't come across anyone else here who's read it, I'll be happy to give a review (there's a discussion thread for books we've read in The Spare Oom, isn't there?) — don't know yet whether it's one to be recommended or to be avoided like the plague, but there's only one way to find out...

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : October 25, 2019 2:53 am
Lady Arwen
(@wren)
The Mermod Moderator

Courtenay, I'm glad you're finding the introduction was adjusted! I have not read the book, but I would love to hear your feedback on it. You're definitely welcome to post about the book here, either in review form, or in commentary as you go along. I'm sure we're all quite curious!

Avatar thanks to AITB

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Posted : October 27, 2019 7:02 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee

Hi Lady Arwen and everyone,

I've posted my thoughts on Becoming Mrs Lewis in the Books thread, but would be happy to discuss it here if people would prefer. This might be a better place for it, really.

In summary (as my other post is quite long!), it started out as a light and fun read, but what eventually made me too uncomfortable to go on was that it's about real people and real events, but turned into an unremarkable piece of soppy romantic fiction. 16 chapters or so in (barely 1/3 of the total length), almost all we see of Joy is cliched musings on her unsatisfying life so far and her failure to fit into the typical role of wife and mother and her conflicted feelings about her first marriage and her efforts to suppress her growing feelings for Jack, with the melodrama laid on by spadefuls, needless to say. (-|

And yet as we don't hear much at all about Joy's spiritual journey — apart from a beautifully written couple of paragraphs in the first chapter about how she (as an atheist) prayed in desperation and suddenly discovered God, we get almost nothing of how her understanding of God and her relationship with Him developed from there (not even why she chose Christianity over her original Judaism and started going to church) — there's hardly any sense of WHY her correspondence with Lewis meant so much to her and what they actually talked about and how they became so close. Once I realised my originally avid interest was draining away fast, I flicked through the rest of the book and wasn't any more impressed, so I'm afraid it's now on my charity shop pile.

Anyway, as I said in the other thread, if anyone has read and can recommend a good biography of the REAL Joy Davidman Lewis, I'd definitely be interested!! :D

(Here's the link to my post in the Books thread)

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : October 28, 2019 6:59 am
Wunderkind_Lucy
(@wunderkind_lucy)
A Magnet for All Kinds of Deeper Wunderment Hospitality Committee

*blows dust of the thread* I know this thread is several years old, but I felt that what I wanted to share would probably fit better here than anywhere else.

I recently started listing to the Wade Center's podcasts and came across one on Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I decided to take the plunge and listen to it, having remembered what everyone had said in this thread as well as the Books thread. It was interesting to see the author's reasons behind writing this novel about Joy Davidman.

However, despite listening to the podcast, I'm still not sure if I could read the book based on what everyone has said thus far. Tongue

Posted by: @courtenay

6 chapters or so in (barely 1/3 of the total length), almost all we see of Joy is cliched musings on her unsatisfying life so far and her failure to fit into the typical role of wife and mother and her conflicted feelings about her first marriage and her efforts to suppress her growing feelings for Jack, with the melodrama laid on by spadefuls, needless to say.

Even in the podcast, the author mentioned a lot about how Joy didn't feel like she fit in and focused on her role as an individual. She also noted that many people thought of Joy as the wife of C. S. Lewis rather than as a woman who was an author and poet in her own right. I think that her desire to share Joy's story was good (she mentioned that the foundation/framework was truthful and followed the main timeline of events), but maybe it would have been better to write a biography rather than a fictional novel.

On a different note, the author did receive Douglas Gresham's permission and met with him to discuss her book. (I can't remember if anyone mentioned it.)

~ Wunder

P. S. I know this is slightly off topic (or maybe not since he does mention his mother), but the first three podcasts from the Wade Center are from an interview that Drs. David and Crystal Downing had with Douglas Gresham. I quite enjoyed them as Douglas Gresham shared some interesting tidbits from his childhood. He also shared his memories about the death of his mother as well as the death of C. S. Lewis.


"The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts." ~ C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
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Posted : May 13, 2022 2:54 pm
Courtenay liked
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

The best book to read about the Gresham family before Joy met Jack, is Lenten Lands, by Doug Gresham.

I had read it a long time ago, but re-read it in the last two years, after I had met Doug a few times. It was amazing to recognise his 'voice' in the writing. (Anyone who wants to achieve this feeling of knowing the author as you read him, can find lots of YouTube talks and interviews with him!)

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

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Posted : May 13, 2022 3:35 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee
Posted by: @wunderkind_lucy

On a different note, the author did receive Douglas Gresham's permission and met with him to discuss her book. (I can't remember if anyone mentioned it.)

Yes, she mentions that in the preface to Becoming Mrs Lewis and thanks him specifically. I also felt that her motives were genuinely good, I should add — I just didn't enjoy the story she wrote and I eventually gave up on it! Giggle  

 

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : May 13, 2022 4:28 pm
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