Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis s memoir, A Grief Observed .Now, through extraordinary new documentsaswell asyears of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman GreshamLewis to the page in the fullness and depth she deserves. Read more...
Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis s memoir, A Grief Observed.Now, through extraordinary new documentsaswell asyears of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman GreshamLewis to the page in the fullness and depth she deserves.
A poet andradical, Davidman was a frequentcontributorto the communist vehicle NewMasses and an activemember of NewYorkliterary circles in the 1930s and40s. After growing up Jewish in the Bronx, she was an atheist, then apractitioner of Dianetics;sheconverted to Christianity after experiencing a moment of transcendent grace.A mother, a novelist, a vibrant and difficult and intelligent woman, she set off for England in 1952, determined to captivate the man whose work had changed her life.
Davidmanbecame the intellectual and spiritual partner Lewis never expected but cherished. She helped him refine his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. Their relationship begun when Joy wrote to Lewis as a religious guide grewfrom a dialogue about faith, writing, and poetry intoa deep friendship and atimeless love story.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-05-11
- Reviewer: Staff
If not for Joy Davidman’s marriage to C.S. Lewis, it’s unlikely that anyone would be reading a book about her. Nevertheless, debut author Santamaria does her best to fill in Davidman’s scattered life, starting with her days as a student at Hunter College in the early 1930s; her infatuation with the Communist Party and poems supporting the cause; her first marriage, to author William Lindsey Gresham, in 1942; and the birth of their two sons. The marriage was rocky, with Davidman dissatisfied with life as a conventional housewife and Gresham struggling with alcoholism. The couple dallied with Dianetics before Joy, already interested in C.S. Lewis’s writing, became smitten with him after the two began corresponding. As her marriage dissolved, she left for England hoping to start a relationship with Lewis. Joy succeeded, divorcing Gresham in 1954 and marrying Lewis in 1956. Though Santamaria describes their relationship as “blissfully happy,” some details indicate that Lewis may have been more ambivalent (he buried their wedding announcement in the Christmas Eve edition of the Times, where few would notice it). Readers enchanted with the version of Davidman and Lewis’s romance presented in the film Shadowlands may be disappointed that the facts don’t fully support what Santamaria calls “one of the 20th century’s greatest love stories.” B&w insert. Agent: Sarah Burnes, the Gernert Company. (Aug.)