“The way stories change us can’t be explained,” Padraig says. “It can only be felt. Like love.”Patti Callahan, Once Upon a Wardrobe
“Once Upon a Wardrobe” by Patti Callahan (author of the bestselling novel, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis”) is a captivating historical fiction novel set in 1950 in Oxford, England. It tells the story of Megs Devonshire a student of Mathematics and Physics at Oxford. Her younger brother George has a terminal illness living out the last few months of his life. George becomes enraptured with a new book just published by a local professor, C.S. “Jack” Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The story centers around Megs who is caught up in numbers and logic and lists. She wants to make sense of the world with her equations and scientific method, but her grief of watching her brother dying isn’t compatible with her sums and figures. At first she is skeptical of the “children’s book” that George begs her to read to him, but the more she reads, the more she begins to understand something new about the world and the reality around her. Not all of life’s circumstances and problems can be defined with math and science.
George finds out that Jack is a professor at Oxford and begs Megs to talk to him. To ask him a question, “Is Narnia real? What about Aslan?” After some poking around at an after hours talk, she meets him, and then later finds The Kilns, his residence in the countryside. It is there that she gets to ask her questions, but Mr. Lewis’ answers are not all that she expects and it sends her on her own personal journey to answer all of life’s biggest questions.
I love Ms. Callahan’s writing style and how she uses source material from C.S. Lewis’ life and writing to tell this story. It is well-researched and doesn’t provide answers, but it leads the reader on their own journey parallel with Megs and George. I found this book to be easy to read and enthralling. I couldn’t put it down. There were so many interesting ideas portrayed in this book about life and meaning, myth and truth, and each person’s own story.
I highly recommend both of Ms. Callahan’s books on C.S. Lewis, first “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” and now “Once Upon a Wardrobe.” There’s really no order to read them as the only tie between these are that they involve C.S. Lewis and his writing of The Chronicles of Narnia.