Tag Archives: biographical fiction

Book Review: The Engineer’s Wife

21 Jun

My newest book club — the IWBC (Interesting Women Book Club 😉 ) — is meeting for a second time tomorrow. We chose The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood for our discussion. This biographical novel focuses on Emily Warren Roebling, a very interesting woman! When her husband and chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge project, Washington Roebling, is struck down with a debilitiating disease common to the trade, she is thrust into a role never before performed by a woman. Her life is groundbreaking. A good read to understand the progress women made despite the numerous obstacles placed in their way.

She built the Brooklyn Bridge, so why don’t you know her name?

Emily Roebling built a monument for all time. Then she was lost in its shadow. Discover the fascinating woman who helped design and construct the Brooklyn Bridge. Perfect for book clubs and fans of Marie Benedict.

Emily refuses to live conventionally — she knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s determined to make a change. But then her husband asks the unthinkable: give up her dreams to make his possible.

Emily’s fight for women’s suffrage is put on hold, and her life transformed when her husband Washington Roebling, the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, is injured on the job. Untrained for the task, but under his guidance, she assumes his role, despite stern resistance and overwhelming obstacles. But as the project takes shape under Emily’s direction, she wonders whose legacy she is building—hers, or her husband’s. As the monument rises, Emily’s marriage, principles, and identity threaten to collapse. When the bridge finally stands finished, will she recognize the woman who built it?

Based on the true story of an American icon, The Engineer’s Wife delivers an emotional portrait of a woman transformed by a project of unfathomable scale, which takes her into the bowels of the East River, suffragette riots, the halls of Manhattan’s elite, and the heady, freewheeling temptations of P.T. Barnum. The biography of a husband and wife determined to build something that lasts — even at the risk of losing each other.

Tracey Enerson Wood has always had a writing bug. While working as a Registered Nurse, starting an interior design company, raising two children, and bouncing around the world as a military wife, she indulged in her passion as a playwright, screenwriter and short story writer. She has authored magazine columns and other non-fiction, written and directed plays of all lengths, including Grits, Fleas and Carrots, Rocks and Other Hard Places, Alone, and Fog. Her screenplays include Strike Three and Roebling’s Bridge. The Engineer’s Wife is her first published novel.
Other passions include food and cooking, and honoring military heroes. Her co-authored anthology/cookbook Homefront Cooking, American Veterans Share Recipes, Wit, and Wisdom, was released in May, 2018, and all authors’ profits will be donated to organizations that support veterans.


A New Jersey native, she now lives with her family in Germany and Florida, and loves to travel, so be careful giving out casual invitations, she will show up anywhere.


Ms. Wood can be followed or reached at:
Twitter: @traceyenerson
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010292407932

My Impressions:

The plot of The Engineer’s Wife fit into the theme of my summer reading goals — a biographical novel featuring a strong woman who broke society’s expectations. The book follows Emily Warren Roebling from her first encounter with Washington Roebling during the Civil War to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1880s. Real life events and people are fictionalized as the author tells the story not only of the building of the iconic bridge, but a fascinating woman who wanted more than society dictated at the time. The construction struggles parallel the problems for a woman of the time. Did you know there was a law against women wearing pants?! Neither did I! Emily’s tenacity and loyalty are strong, and she is presented as a woman with flaws, but also fierce convictions and determination. I enjoyed this novel very much. The afterward lets the reader in on what is fact and what is fiction. I will admit that reading the author’s notes gave me a bit of a let down. There are some plot threads that added drama and tension to the novel, as well as an exploration of Emily’s character. These turned out to be purely fictional. It left me feeling like I really didn’t know the main character at all. That being said, I would still recommend The Engineer’s Wife. As a prospective reader, keep in mind that this is fiction. 😉 The novel is targeted to the general market. There is some language and adult situations.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Summer TBR

15 Jun

It is definitely summer here in the sunny South. High temps are in the 90s, and I am melting on my morning walks! But that’s what I signed up for! We endure in the air conditioning and under the umbrella next to the pool. And a good book to take you away is always welcome.

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday list includes some of the books I am reading this summer. My TBR list is short, but I will be reading more than is on my current list — I am keeping my options flexible this summer. For more fun summer reading, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Books on My Summer TBR

The August surprise selection for By The Book is Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan. We are excited to read this dual timeline novel set in one of our favorite cities.

When Savannah history professor Everly Winthrop is asked to guest-curate a new museum collection focusing on artifacts recovered from the steamship Pulaski, she’s shocked. The ship sank after a boiler explosion in 1838, and the wreckage was just discovered, 180 years later. Everly can’t resist the opportunity to try to solve some of the mysteries and myths surrounding the devastating night of its sinking.

Everly’s research leads her to the astounding history of a family of eleven who boarded the Pulaskitogether, and the extraordinary stories of two women from this family: a known survivor, Augusta Longstreet, and her niece, Lilly Forsyth, who was never found, along with her child. These aristocratic women were part of Savannah’s society, but when the ship exploded, each was faced with difficult and heartbreaking decisions. This is a moving and powerful exploration of what women will do to endure in the face of tragedy, the role fate plays, and the myriad ways we survive the surviving.

A small group of my friends formed IWBC (Interesting Women Book Club — for the books were are reading and of course us 😉 . The Only Woman in The Room by Marie Benedict fits that bill. I am going to lobby hard to read it, but if I get outvoted, I am still going to read this intriguing book.

Her beauty almost certainly saved her from the rising Nazi party and led to marriage with an Austrian arms dealer. Underestimated in everything else, she overheard the Third Reich’s plans while at her husband’s side and understood more than anyone would guess. She devised a plan to flee in disguise from their castle, and the whirlwind escape landed her in Hollywood. She became Hedy Lamarr, screen star.

But she kept a secret more shocking than her heritage or her marriage: she was a scientist. And she had an idea that might help the country fight the Nazis and revolutionize modern communication . . . if anyone would listen to her.

A powerful book based on the incredible true story of the glamour icon and scientist, The Only Woman in the Room is a masterpiece that celebrates the many women in science that history has overlooked.

My daughter is reading C. S. LewisSpace Trilogy. She gave book 1, Out of The Silent Planet to my husband, and I downloaded it from Audible (it was included in my subscription). I am hoping our 4th of July celebration will include the 1st Family Book Club. Wish me luck! I had a hard enough time getting my kids to read certain books when they were kids. Now that they are adults . . . .

Out of the Silent Planet is the first novel of the Cosmic Trilogy, considered to be C.S. Lewis’ chief contribution to the science fiction genre. The trilogy concerns Dr. Ransom, a linguist, who, like Christ, was offered a ransom for mankind. The first two novels are planetary romances with elements of medieval mythology. Each planet is seen as having a tutelary spirit; those of the other planets are both good and accessible, while that of Earth is fallen, twisted, and not known directly by most humans. The story is powerfully imagined, and the effects of lesser gravity on Martian planet and animal life is vividly rendered.

Two review books are up for July — The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner and The Chase by Lisa Harris. I can’t wait to dig into both of those books.

In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy’s desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he’ll lose the daughter he’s poured his heart into. Mindy’s mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy’s sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family — but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.

US Marshal Madison James may not be sure who shot her three months ago, but she does know one thing — it’s time to get back out into the field. When her partner, Jonas Quinn, receives a message that a federal warrant just came in on a man connected to a string of bank robberies, Madison jumps at the chance to get back to work. What she and Jonas find is a bank robbery in progress that’s gone wrong — and things are about to get worse.

For these bank robbers, it’s never been just about the money. It’s about taking risks and adrenaline rushes, and getting caught is not part of the game. When the suspects escape, Madison and Jonas must hunt them down and bring them to justice before someone else — someone close to them — gets hurt . . . or worse.

From Seattle to the San Juan Islands, bestselling author Lisa Harris takes you on a nonstop chase where feelings are complicated and failure isn’t an option.

What are you reading this summer?

Audiobook Mini-Review: Code Name Helene

10 May

I am going though a biographical reading/listening phase — who knows how long it will last 😉 — but I am loving learning about very interesting women! A few of my friends and I are meeting to discuss them too. Yay!! The first book up was Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon. It is a must read for anyone who loves WWII fiction. There are a few caveats though. Check out my review below.

In 1936 Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène follows Nancy’s transformation from journalist into one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, known for her ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and her ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces. But with power comes notoriety, and no matter how careful Nancy is to protect her identity, the risk of exposure is great — for herself and for those she loves.

Ariel Lawhon is a critically acclaimed author of historical fiction. She is the author of The Wife, The Maid, And The Headmistress (2014), Flight of Dreams (2016), and I Was Anastasia (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, Indie Next, One Book One County, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, black Lab, and a deranged Siamese cat. She splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.

My Impressions:

I downloaded the audio version of Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon after finding out it was included in my Audible subscription. What did I have to lose — it was free after all. What I won was an excellent reading experience featuring a courageous woman who really existed. This book sucked me in from the get go as it detailed the exploits of Nancy Wake, a tough and determined woman who was invaluable to the French Resistance during WWII. This was a story that needed to be told! Nancy’s story — from international journalist prior to WWII through her work as a super-spy — is told in two storylines. I loved how Lawhon revealed key parts of the story in this way. It also helped to soften the hard experiences that are laid out. The historical details are well-researched and had me googling for more. Nancy’s character, as well as others, are well-drawn and made me feel like I really knew them. This book is a must-read for WWII fiction fans, but please be aware that it is filled with adult elements — language and situations. If it was a movie it would get an R rating, especially for violent images and language. If this doesn’t bother you, then I highly recommend it. A few of my friends gathered to discuss this book, and they all loved it too. The narration for the audiobook is excellent as well. The handling of the many accents was an achievement in its own right.

Highly Recommended. (caveats — adult language and situations, violence)

Audience: adults.

(I downloaded the audiobook from Audible. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday — Recent Reads

4 May

After a slow reading year in 2020 and a busy wedding schedule this year, I am trying to get my reading groove back. It’s been a slow process, but I think I am hitting my stride again. That being said, I’m sharing my most recent reads for Top Ten Tuesday this week. Have you read any of these books?

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 10 Recent Reads

Blackberry Beach by Irene Hannon

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

Facing The Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

More Than Meets The Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard

The Secret Place by Camille Eide

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Trial And Error by Robert Whitlow

Currently reading:

Aftermath by Terri Blackstock

Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

Whispers in The Branches by Brandy Heineman

Reading Road Trip — Washington, D. C. (and surrounding Metro area)

8 Jan

I am on a literal road trip today, so I thought I would post a literary one for those looking for some great books. My first grandchild was born right after Christmas, and I am finally going to get my hands on her today! She and her parents live outside of the Washington, D. C. area, so I thought it would be fun to spotlight books that are set in and around the Metro area. I have included some historical novels, as well as contemporary suspense so that there is something for everyone. The first novel in my list is a biographical novel of Martha Washington. I know that Washington, D. C. didn’t exist in the Revolutionary-era, but Mount Vernon is so close that any trip to D. C. should include it. 😉 I have not read the last book on my list, but I have heard so many great things about it. I’ll be listening to the audiobook on the plane.

 

Hope you enjoy your Washington reading journey!

 

 

Reading Road Trip — Washington, D.C. (and surrounding area)

 

Washington’s Lady by Nancy Moser

Known for moving first-person novels of Nannerl Mozart, Jane Austen, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Nancy Moser now brings to life the loves and trials of the first First Lady of the United States. When a dapper, young George Washington comes into her life, Martha Custis is a young widow with two young children. Their love and loyalty toward each other — and the new nation they fight for, lasts a lifetime and is an inspiration even now, after 250 years. Washington’s Lady was a Christy Awards finalist.

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

It’s April 1861, and the Union Army’s Medical Department is a disaster, completely unprepared for the magnitude of war. A small group of New York City women, including 28-year-old Charlotte Waverly, decide to do something about it, and end up changing the course of the war, despite criticism, ridicule and social ostracism. Charlotte leaves a life of privilege, wealth-and confining expectations-to be one of the first female nurses for the Union Army. She quickly discovers that she’s fighting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Corruption, harassment, and opposition from Northern doctors threaten to push her out of her new role. At the same time, her sweetheart disapproves of her shocking strength and independence, forcing her to make an impossible decision: Will she choose love and marriage, or duty to a cause that seems to be losing? An Irish immigrant named Ruby O’Flannery, who turns to the unthinkable in the face of starvation, holds the secret that will unlock the door to Charlotte’s future. But will the rich and poor confide in each other in time?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey’s letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured.

With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

The Bishop by Steven James

FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers’s cutting-edge 21st-century geospatial investigative techniques and impeccable logic have helped him track some of the country’s most grisly killers. But those skills are pushed to the limit in this new installment of the highly-acclaimed, award-winning The Bowers Files series. This time it’s a congressman’s daughter who is found dead even as her killers launch a spree of perfect murders in the Northeast.

With nothing to link the crimes to each other, Agent Bowers faces his most difficult case yet–even as his personal life begins to crumble around him.Known for his intricately woven, masterfully plotted novels of high-octane action and spine-tingling suspense, Steven James delivers once again.
The Bishop is a gripping, adrenaline-laced story for readers who are tired of timid thrillers. Strap on your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride. The game is on.

End Game by Rachel Dylan

When elite members of the military are murdered on the streets of Washington, DC, FBI Special Agent Bailey Ryan and NCIS Special Agent Marco Agostini must work together to bring the perpetrator to justice. Unfortunately, all evidence points to a Navy SEAL sniper whom Bailey refuses to believe is guilty.

When Bailey and Marco start to connect the dots between the victims, including a link to a powerful defense contractor, they wonder if there’s a deeper cover-up at play. Then Bailey is targeted, and it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep their dark secrets.

With the stakes getting higher by the moment in a twisted conspiracy, there’s a rush against the clock to determine whom they can really trust. As allies turn to enemies, the biggest secret yet to be uncovered could be the end of all of them.

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell

Someone wants Georgie Brennan dead. And the more she digs for the truth, the fewer people she can trust.

Months after her husband, Sean, is killed by a hit-and-run driver, physicist Georgie Brennan discovers he lied to her about where he had been going that day. A cryptic notebook, a missing computer, and strange noises under her house soon have her questioning everything she thought she knew.

With her job hanging by a thread, her son struggling to cope with his father’s death, and her four-star general father up for confirmation as the next secretary of defense, Georgie quickly finds herself tangled in a web of political intrigue that has no clear agenda and dozens of likely villains.

Only one thing is clear: someone wants her dead too. And the people closest to her might be the most dangerous of all.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday — What’s Your Name?

15 Oct

This week That Artsy Reader Girl is challenging bloggers to compile lists of extraordinary book titles. There are some brilliant Top Ten Tuesday lists out there, so make sure to visit her site to find them.

I decided to go with titles that contain a person’s name. The descriptor attached made me want to know more — what was her love, or promise, or curse? The titles of the books on my list are great indicators of the goodness found inside.

What about you? What book title do you find extraordinary?

 

Top Titles with Names

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

Belinda Blake And The Snake in The Grass by Heather Day Gilbert

The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

Darcy By Any Other Name by Laura Hile

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

The Memoir of Johnny Devine by Camille Eide

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

My Dearest Dietrich by Amanda Barratt

The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson

The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Book Review (+Giveaway!): Becoming Mrs. Lewis

12 Mar

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Welcome to the Blog Tour for Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan with JustRead Publicity Tours! We continue the Becoming Mrs. Lewis celebration on social media starting March 14.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Becoming Mrs. LewisTitle: Becoming Mrs. Lewis
Author: Patti Callahan
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 2, 2018

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.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Christian Book | iTunes


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

callahanp

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.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: website | facebook | twitter | instagram

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MY IMPRESSIONS:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is billed as historical fiction, as it details the life of Joy Davidman and her relationship with C.S. Lewis. It is indeed historical in nature, how could it not be, but I would describe it as biographical fiction, since it is told in the first person voice of Joy Davidman. While this was very effective in relating to her character, I had to remind myself over and over that this book is fiction. The emotions portrayed and the scenes depicted are so realistic, that the book can easily be believed as coming directly from Davidman’s own private journals. Yet as the author states in the Afterword, no correspondence between Davidman and Lewis exists. Callahan did a commendable job in distilling the articles and books written about the pair, as well as transcripts of others’ recollections and letters, and speeches given by the two. She uses the published works of both Davidman and Lewis to piece together what their life looked like. And this intimate novel does just that.

The story that emerges is a fascinating journey of faith and love. Davidman’s relationship with Lewis is at the forefront, but the most moving scenes of this book are her encounters with God. Her life was messy and sorrow-filled, yet touched with the grace of God. But if you are fan of traditional Christian fiction, you may be surprised or even offended by Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I was not. Too often the christian life is viewed as a one time salvation experience that instantly changes one from sinful to holy. And yes, when saved by Jesus, we take on His righteousness — His being the operative word. Unfortunately for most, if not all of us, we struggle with the same old sin nature, the desires of our flesh, and the influence of our world and experiences. Joy wrestled with that, for which I am thankful to the author. Here was a woman who was influential in Christian circles in her own right, but also was a large influence on the later writings of Lewis. But she continued to be flawed and falling, yet ever loved by God. That is how I would describe Joy Davidman, and how I would describe myself.

There is a lot of drinking in the book — some casual/social and some to excess and abuse. There is talk of sex and affairs and fleshly desires. And that might not appeal to all readers of CF, but it is a realistic portrayal of a life that strived to live for God. I recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis wholeheartedly.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I purchased the Kindle version of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 


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TOUR GIVEAWAY

(2) winners will each win a hardcover release copy of Becoming Mrs. Lewis.

Be sure to check out each stop on the Blog and Takeover tours for more chances to win. Full tour schedule on this tour shown below. Giveaway began at midnight March 12, 2019 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 19, 2019. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Due to shipping cost, only US mailing addresses valid. For our giveaway rules and policy, click HERE.

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Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

AND

Be sure to stop at the following tours for more chances to win!

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*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

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Book Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

30 Jan

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 is a New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels, including the historical fiction, Becoming Mrs. Lewis – The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis.

A finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, an Indie Next Pick, an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year, Patti is published in numerous languages. Her articles and essays have appeared in Southern Living, PINK, Writer’s Digest, Portico Magazine, Birmingham Magazine and more.

Her essays can also be found in anthologies and collections such as Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy; Southern Writers Writing, and State of the Heart. Patti is a frequent speaker at luncheons, book clubs and women’s groups.

Growing up in Philadelphia as the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Patti learned early the value of storytelling. At the age of twelve, her family moved to South Florida where Patti found the sanctuary of libraries and began her slow but steady journey into understanding the power of story to navigate confusing times in life.

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 now lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama and Bluffton, South Carolina with her husband.

My Impressions:

My book club chose Becoming Mrs. Lewis mainly because of the C. S. Lewis connection. Some of us have watched Shadowlands, while most have read at least one of Lewis’ books. We chose it sight unseen, as it were, relying only on the title. I am eager to hear what the others in my group thought about it, but first I will share my own thoughts.

Becoming Mrs. Lewis is billed as historical fiction, as it details the life of Joy Davidman and her relationship with C.S. Lewis. It is indeed historical in nature, how could it not be, but I would describe it as biographical fiction, since it is told in the first person voice of Joy Davidman. While this was very effective in relating to her character, I had to remind myself over and over that this book is fiction. The emotions portrayed and the scenes depicted are so realistic, that the book can easily be believed as coming directly from Davidman’s own private journals. Yet as the author states in the Afterword, no correspondence between Davidman and Lewis exists. Callahan did a commendable job in distilling the articles and books written about the pair, as well as transcripts of others’ recollections and letters, and speeches given by the two. She uses the published works of both Davidman and Lewis to piece together what their life looked like. And this intimate novel does just that.

The story that emerges is a fascinating journey of faith and love. Davidman’s relationship with Lewis is at the forefront, but the most moving scenes of this book are her encounters with God. Her life was messy and sorrow-filled, yet touched with the grace of God. But if you are fan of traditional Christian fiction, you may be surprised or even offended by Becoming Mrs. Lewis. I was not. Too often the christian life is viewed as a one time salvation experience that instantly changes one from sinful to holy. And yes, when saved by Jesus, we take on His righteousness — His being the operative word. Unfortunately for most, if not all of us, we struggle with the same old sin nature, the desires of our flesh, and the influence of our world and experiences. Joy wrestled with that, for which I am thankful to the author. Here was a woman who was influential in Christian circles in her own right, but also was a large influence on the later writings of Lewis. But she continued to be flawed and falling, yet ever loved by God. That is how I would describe Joy Davidman, and how I would describe myself.

There is a lot of drinking in the book; some casual/social and some to excess and abuse. There is talk of sex and affairs and fleshly desires. And that might not appeal to all readers of CF, but it is a realistic portrayal of a life that strived to live for God. I recommend Becoming Mrs. Lewis wholeheartedly.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased the Kindle version of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)