I recently featured New York Times Bestselling author Patti Callahan’s novelized biography of Joy Davidman, Becoming Mrs. Lewis: The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. I found it a helpful book with fine writing, but I simply have a different mental conception of Joy from reading her work and from biographies like those of Lyle Dorsett and, especially, Abigail Santamaria. I have no factual concerns with Callahan’s novel, and I am hardly a judge of that genre of writing. Joy just strikes me with a different rhythm and pattern of life than the character that emerges in a lovely and coherent way in Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
Still, it is a compelling story–both in Callahan’s retelling and in the core story that makes for Joy Davidman’s life. And Patti Callahan is a compelling figure. I listened to her Wade Center podcast with Crystal Downing and David Downing, and was won over by her lively spirit, her eagerness for research, and her keen sense of the story. If you are interested in Callahan’s book, I would encourage you to check out the podcast.
In the eventual algorithm of the internet, this Wade podcast led on to a minidoc/book trailer by Patti Callahan. Rather than simply give a book trailer, Callahan and her team produced a short visual tour of Oxford. We are invited to walk with Callahan as she wandered around Oxford, trying to imaginatively rediscover the meeting between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman and the places where they slowly fell in love. This was the kind of imaginative project I was attempting in my own Oxford Inklings wanderings (here and here). This is better, though, and the flavour of Callahan’s video is also the flavour of her Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
And if you enjoyed “The Places of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis,” perhaps you will enjoy Callahan’s “Book Talk” at the Wade from December 2018, including a reading by the author.
“The Places of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis” works really nicely with the Becoming Mrs. Lewis book club kit, including a really nice map of Oxford and a beautiful timeline of “Joy and Jack” briefly showing their individual and shared lives.