Patti Callahan’s historical fiction novel, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis,” is a fictional account of Joy Davidman’s nightmarish marriage to Bill Gresham and later her friendship through transatlantic letter exchanges between Davidman and British writer and philosopher C.S. Lewis. Their discussions began with similar their conversion stories to faith in Christ and their love of writing and poetry. They had a common love of mythology and classic literature.
Callahan chronicles Davidman and Gresham’s ugly divorce as Davidman sought refuge abroad in London and Oxford meeting Lewis in person for the first time and Gresham began an affair with Joy’s cousin Renee. Davidman returned to divorce Gresham and take her children back with her to England. Callahan captures the beauty of the first deep friendship and later romantic love and marriage between Lewis and Davidman.
The story uses Davidman’s personal poetry and sonnets she wrote to Lewis as a gift of herself, of her love, for him. It is a beautiful unraveling of her need to be loved and it is finally when she let’s go of that need, recognizing that in God’s love, she is fully loved and need not seek that love from Lewis to fill her up.
The depth of which Callahan captures Davidman’s feelings and longings and pain and her companionship with Lewis as an editor of his writings, a muse, a creative inspiration to help mold his thoughts and ideas. Her spirit and heart sprinkle his later works during their friendship and marriage in a way that is subtle yet distinct.
This novel is a very fascinating study on two historical figures, two writers and two lovers and the circuitous journey they took to find one another.