Becoming Mrs. Lewis [Book Review]

October 19, 2018

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan (cover) Image: a woman in a red long sleeved dress and hat walks though a set of columns with her back to the camera

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Love Story, Marriage


Struggling with an unhappy marriage, her writing career and health, and matters of faith, Joy Davidman begins writing to well-known author, C.S. Lewis (Jack). Joy and Jack are both writers and poets and experience a robust and heartfelt correspondence through which they develop a warm and intellectual friendship. Soon, Joy takes a break from her unpredictable, angry, drunken husband and travels to England in hopes of restoring her health, finding inspiration for her writing projects, and meeting C.S. “Jack” Lewis. After spending time with Jack and enjoying a mutual fondness, Joy begins to realize her growing love for him. Despite a lack of personal financial resources and continuing heartbreak over her circumstances, Joy finds the courage to risk it all and the voice to end her marriage and move permanently to England. Through her great friendship with Lewis she finds enduring love, a trusted friend and confidant, and a true writing partner. During this time in history (1950s), Joy’s independence and decisions regarding her marriage and children were most likely questioned. In addition, Jack received criticism for his involvement with a divorced woman. However, we know that Jack called her “my whole world” and upon her death he wrote his popular “A Grief Observed.” In this biographical historical fiction you will be treated to a poignant love story along with beautiful descriptions of England and bookish references.

Amazon Rating ()ctober): Early Ratings: 4.6

My Thoughts:

Many of us read the beloved classic The Chronicles of Narnia as youngsters and some of us have read more of C.S. Lewis’s work. Maybe you’ve heard of the remarkable love story between C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman or have seen the movie Shadowlands.

In this well researched story, I wasn’t sure what to think at first of Joy Davidman and had difficulty reconciling the Joy we know as the great love of C.S. Lewis with her early portrayal in the story. These are a few of the statements by Joy Davidman about her early love life that caused my concern:

Whom did I choose to first seduce?

I’d thought that…conquering him would satisfy me.

It wasn’t love. It was obsession. The compulsion to own him along with a clawing need to prove I was worthy of such notice.

I’d pursued men with embarrassing veracity. Obsession and possession confused with love.

My design included needing men who could not and would not have me, especially older men.

In addition to questioning Joy’s motives when it comes to love, it’s easy to criticize Joy for decisions in her first marriage and family, but she’s remarkable in her independence, her pursuit of meaning, her courage to take a risk, and her honest reflection about her past history with love. As we learn about Joy’s childhood home and parents, we grow to understand more about Joy and appreciate the actions she takes and her desire to grow. I think her sincere efforts at self reflection are admirable.

Life is complicated for Joy Davidman and C.S.Lewis. Although separated by an ocean, seventeen years difference in age, and individual traumas, love is powerful. She observes:

With Jack it’s not the list or conquest or obsession, “It’s the feeling of finally coming home.”

If you’re familiar with the C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman narrative, I can promise you that there’s more to learn in the pages of Becoming Mrs. Lewis. It’s fascinating to explore their relationship which involves a respect and admiration for the other’s intellectual and creative endeavors, a shared love of nature and the mystical, a deep friendship, as well as romance. Jack and Joy are soul mates!

Recommended for fans of C.S. Lewis, for readers who appreciate stories of determined, risk taking, and independent women, and for those looking for a new historical fiction read or an inspiring romance. You will enjoy descriptions of the English countryside and discussions about books as well.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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becoming mrs lewis

Becoming Mrs. Lewis Information Here

Meet the Author, Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan

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; Instagram: pattichenry; Facebook: AuthorPattiCallahanHenry; Twitter: @pcalhenry.

Additional Materials to Supplement Your Reading Experience:

If you read about and are fascinated by the real life relationship portrayed in Becoming Mrs. Lewis, you will want to watch or rewatch Shadowlands (click for movie trailer).

A Grief ObservedIn addition, you may be interested to read A Grief Observed, a work by C.S. Lewis documenting his grief journey.

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings. ~Amazon


Is Becoming Mrs. Lewis on your TBR or have you read it?
Are you familiar with the C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman love story?
Have you seen Shadowlands or read A Grief Observed?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

EXTRA Review!

Dear Reader, I’m not sure if we share a mutual love for Middle Grade fiction or not, but in case we do, here’s a recent review!

4.5 stars.
Louisiana's Way Home.jpg:::::sigh::::: I LOVE a great middle grade read from time to time! Do you? If you are experiencing a reading slump I think reading fabulous middle grade titles is a great remedy! Stories like Louisiana’s Way Home explores heavy content without the YA angst or offensive language or graphic violence of adult literature. Usually these middle grade stories can be read in one day (2 at the most). Check my middle grade Goodreads shelf for more great MG recs!

Louisiana’s Way Home is an engaging and ultimately heartwarming story that explores themes of homelessness, belonging, abandonment, finding a family to love you, foster care, friendship, caring adults, determination, loss, hope, disappointment, etc.

A suspension of belief is required to classify this story as realistic fiction. Goodreads reviewer Joe suggests that this story is a modern fairy tale in which a young person experiences danger, evil, and unfortunate circumstances but in the conclusion all ends happily.

Reading this story challenges me to be that adult who watches out for kids…to be the person who is ready and willing to secure their welfare, to offer a safe place or warm gesture, to offer kindness instead of disapproval or criticism.

You will love Louisiana, a unique, wily, memorable, and unforgettable survivor.

My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!

Looking Ahead:

I’m reading and will be reviewing next week The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I’ve read mixed reviews from trusted reviewers so I’m eager to see what I think.

Clockmaker's Daughter

Let’s Get Social!

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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25 thoughts on “Becoming Mrs. Lewis [Book Review]

  1. Pingback: Fall Reading Season | Reading Ladies

  2. I’ve been waiting for these, Carol! I enjoyed reliving the experience of reading each of these books through your reviews! We shared the same feelings about Joy and Louisiana, too. You truly captured the emotions of both books! I shared your review on twitter, but I think it’s still linking your old account. It will still direct them to this review link, either way. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So much to respond to here Carol! Loved the review– even in Shadowlands, Joy comes across as not so cozy strong character. But likable. So I’m interested in digging in the book (on my nightstand now). And I loved A Grief Observed, not only for their story, but a guide through grief, which we all face sooner or later. And– I’m a new Kate Morton fan. Just finished The House Riverton. It reminded me so much of Downton Abbey in the little details and some plot lines!! But it was written 2006, before Downton. Waiting to see what you think of the Clockmaker’s Daughter– have it on reserve at the library, but I think it will be a wait. Hope you had a great weekend. I’m just back from the church high school girls retreat at Joshua Tree. Bright beautiful girls and an amazing time together. hugs hugs Carol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lake House is a good Kate Morton, too! She’s a dependably solid author …… I read a very positive review of Clock Daughter this morning (after many other meh reviews) which gave me the encouragement I needed to begin reading. I think it’s a bit more complex than her previous work….but I’m prepared for the challenge!

      High school girls retreat? Brave of you! I bet you’ll sleep great tonight! I wonder what they are reading? The Hate You Give is in theaters now…. I wonder if this is on their radar?

      Get some sleep 😴 and happy reading!


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