I’ve just finished a stellar story — a novel closely based on fact — “Becoming Mrs. Lewis.” It is as much about C. S. Lewis, author of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia, among other great works, as it is Joy Davidman, American divorcee who moved to England with her two young sons, having fallen in love with all things British, including “Jack.” C.S., as a kid, couldn’t stand his given name, Clive Staples. So he named himself after his dog, Jacksie.
Both Joy and Jack had decided long before they met that they were atheists. For one thing, Lewis lost his mother at the age of nine. He prayed she would live and she didn’t. Joy grew up in a secular Jewish household, her parents emigrating from Poland, her father an atheist.
But God had other plans in the lives of these two writers. For Joy that happened when her first husband suffered an emotional breakdown out drinking one night. His love affairs with alcohol and other women all converged to drop her to her knees. She said, “For the first time my pride was forced to admit that I was not, after all, the ‘master of my fate.’’’
As she put it, “The walls behind which I hid from God, went down momentarily, and God came in.”
Jack spoke about the “steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.” And how he gave in at age 30 and “admitted that God was God.”
He said of that night he was perhaps “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”
While these quotes are taken from other writings, the author of “Becoming Mrs Lewis,” Patti Henry, has created a magnificent story of two brainy, searching, imaginative, inquisitive people — who first met through letter writing across an ocean from one another. And became the deepest of soul mates.
Their journey in faith, alone and with each other, was grueling. Traumatic events in their backgrounds shadowed them. They struggled with doubts and questions and temptations and testings. There were many hurdles in even meeting, and then growing their togetherness. They had only four years of marriage due to Joy’s cancer.
Yet God did not yield His place or His grace in their arduous climb to the heights.
As a reader I found myself completely under the spell of these lives. Carried from New York to London and Oxford and Cambridge. Breathless at each twist in the road. Caught up with them in the rarest of friendships turned romantic love.
Some books, some stories, take you where you need to be and make you reach for more.
“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” is one of those.