So, I’ve read this…

Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated CS Lewis by Abigail Santamaria.

My thoughts in brief:

  • I didn’t like Joy. At first, there were things to like. Oddly, when she became a Christian, she seemed to lose almost all likable qualities. She seemed to have more ‘goodness’ before her conversion. Reams could be written about that dynamic. I just ended up with a distaste for the poor woman.
  • CS Lewis didn’t seem to care much about the character of the person he chose as a partner. One would think that for just about anyone, especially respected and ethical people, character would be significant. But, CS Lewis seems to have seen something that was, to him, bright and shiny and exciting, and character didn’t have much to do with anything. Interesting. So, he could be shallow, too… Well, he was human and with faults like anyone else, but THAT kind of fault? It’s kind of a combination between disheartening and disturbing. He really didn’t seem to care that she treated people rudely, shorted them financially, quite possibly (from his understandably limited perspective) tore her kids away from a family life in order to pursue him, lied about her husband. Again, this could probably provide for reams of discussion on morality, forgiveness, judgment, etc.
  • Santamaria is very good about showing the complexity of any human. Not all good, not all bad. And, frankly, that is not something that is shown all the time, perhaps not even much of the time. Was she perhaps too successful in showing Davidman’s faults? I kind of have a (re)new(ed_ appreciation for the blindness to complexity that other biographers offer…. Who knew there was so much comfort in thinking less, understanding less?
  • There is a severe discomfort that comes from comparing oneself with Davidman, and also with reassessing CS Lewis and his ideas in light of his relationship with her. Reams, reams, reams…

Culled from the internet, here are some people’s reviews of Santamaria’s biography of Davidman:

Mark Oppenheimer’s review from the Sunday Book Review

Katrine Vigilius on The Gospel Coalition (Good one.)

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