Long before Joy Davidman was known as the wife of renowned British author C.S. Lewis, the ambitious and sharp-minded American writer was carving out her own spiritual and literary journey. In Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a historical novel, Patti Callahan places Joy in the role of first-person narrator and enlivens her fictional voice with details from biographies, personal letters, and other factual sources; she even features stirring excerpts from Joy’s recently discovered sonnets. Joy is a confident scholar and an eloquent poet who is captivated by the prophetic beauty of this world, even as she navigates such challenges as loneliness, chronic health issues, and painful family relationships.
Rather than rush into the romantic stage of Joy and C.S. Lewis’ courtship, Callahan offers the reader a leisurely, detailed portrait of their blossoming relationship. Joy and Jack, as Lewis was known to his friends, first meet through the writing of letters. At the time she was in the midst of a troubled marriage to author Bill Gresham, an abusive alcoholic with a history of adultery.
Their correspondence begins as a meeting of the minds—an invigorating forum for rigorous religious debate and soulful contemplation between two “mid-life converts” from atheism to Christianity. Their connection as prolific “pen friends” deepens even further into a tender friendship when Joy visits England.
In the years that follow, Joy and Jack discover what it means to be truly known beyond the protective masks that humans so often hide behind. The two amuse, challenge, and comfort each other, as well as guide and champion one another’s writing. Together they come to more honestly embrace their “belovedness” as children of God and eventually commit to life together as husband and wife. When tragedy strikes, they find the strength to faithfully face the difficult questions of how to trust God in times of suffering.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis is an intimate and imaginative chronicle of the fascinating love story between two brilliant people with a gift for artfully pondering the mysteries of the Christian faith. (Banner review)