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Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis
by Patti Callahan

Published: 2018-10-02
Hardcover : 416 pages
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Now a USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestseller!

“Patti Callahan seems to have found the story she was born to tell in this tale of unlikely friendship turned true love between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis, that tests the bounds of faith and radically alters both of their lives. Their ...

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Now a USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestseller!

“Patti Callahan seems to have found the story she was born to tell in this tale of unlikely friendship turned true love between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis, that tests the bounds of faith and radically alters both of their lives. Their connection comes to life in Callahan’s expert hands, revealing a connection so persuasive and affecting, we wonder if there’s another like it in history. Luminous and penetrating.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife

In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice. 

From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” 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 Henry breathes wondrous fresh life into one of the greatest literary love stories of all time . . . The result is a deeply moving story about love and loss that is transformative and magical.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale

 “I was swept along, filled with hope, and entirely beguiled, not only by the life lived behind the veil of C. S. Lewis’s books but also by the woman who won his heart. A literary treasure from first page to last.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

 “Profoundly evocative, revealing an intimate view of a woman whose love and story had never been fully told . . . until now . . . Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a tour de force and the must-read of the season!” —Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion

"Patti Callahan somehow inhabits Davidman, taking her readers inside the writer’s hungry mind and heart.  We keenly feel Davidman’s struggle to become her own person at a time (the 1950s) when women had few options . . . An astonishing work of biographical fiction." —Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of Mrs. Poe

"Patti Callahan breathes life into this fascinating woman whose hunger for knowledge leads her to buck tradition at every turn." —Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of The Dream Daughter

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Discussion Questions

1. Joy’s early life was fraught with sickness and rigid family expectations. How did these years shape her love life moving forward? How did these early years influence her newfound friendship with Jack? How did she overcome them to love?

2. When Joy’s cousin, Renee moved into the house with her two young children, things began to change. Have you sheltered family members in a time of need, and how did that change your family dynamics? What were your first reactions to Renee moving in?

3. Joy’s heartbreak at Bill’s announcement that he and Renee were in love was painful. Do you believe it was because she loved Bill? Felt betrayed? That Renee was the "comparison" used all of her life and now that memory surged forward from childhood? Have you ever been in a similar circumstance where old heartbreak was relived in a new form?

4. Joy expressed distress about how some of Jack’s friends didn’t approve of her or appear to like her. Why do you think this was true? How did this affect their friendship?

5. Many of Jack and Joy’s friends talk about their intellectual compatibility, of Joy’s ability to keep up with Jack and how they both had incredible photographic memories. Did this bring them together? Did this help love grow? How?

6. Joy made tough decisions about moving to England and taking her sons from their father. How did this affect Davy and Douglas? What do you believe she could she have done differently?

7. Bill fought to have his sons return to America as Joy appeared to be on her deathbed. Jack wrote a scathing letter and forbid it. How did this change the boys’ lives from that point on?

8. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the novel is when Joy discovers she has terminal cancer at the same time that Jack admits his true love and desire to marry her. How does this affect her recovery? How does this eros change what happens next?

9. Joy wonders about Jack’s relationship with both Janie Moore and Ruth Pitter. How did his relationships with these women affect his heart and love for Joy? Was Joy jealous or curious? How did it affect her view of him and their relationship?

10. What part of this story touched you the most? What part of this story changed you the most?

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