[Review] Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Muse. October 19, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 320.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction with references to Christ Jesus, and with a big emphasis on C. S. Lewis.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Harper Muse.

Link @ Amazon.

Link @ Barnes and Noble.

Website for Patti Callahan. Pinterest/ Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter/ Goodreads author page.

Summary:

England. 1950.

Megs Devonshire is a physics student at Somerville College, Oxford University. She has one sibling, George Henry Devonshire. George is 8. He has a heart condition. Most of the time he is in his bed resting. His devoted parents tenderly care for him. Megs comes home on the weekends to spend time with George. George has been reading a book titled, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.
George asks Megs where Narnia came from. Is it real? He asks her if she has seen, C. S Lewis, the man who wrote the book. Megs begins to investigate his questions by asking Mr. Lewis himself. She takes notes on their talks. When she visits George, she reveals Mr. Lewis’s story.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is a heart-warming and tender story about love. It is not a romantic love, but the love, devotion, compassion, commitment for a family member. It is love displayed in action.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is also a historical fiction/bio of C. S. Lewis’s life.

My Thoughts:

First, this is the last book I will review in 2021. I plan to take a break for the holidays and my upcoming knee surgery on the 28th. I will return sometime in January with more reviews!

I adore, Once Upon a Wardrobe! I didn’t cry while reading it, but my heart certainly melted under the tenderness and compassion and commitment Megs has for George. I love this story!

Reasons why I love this story:

1. The vivid descriptions, tone, and dialogue, which is often warm and intimate, drew me into the story and created a vivid story.

2. I love the memorable and quotable words.
For example:
“There is a difference between imagination and reason.” Page 28.
“…companionable silence….” Page 63.
“‘Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills.'” Page 51. “Maybe…maybe Narnia also began when Mr. Lewis sat quietly and paid attention to his heart’s voice. Maybe we are each and every one of us born with our own stories, and we must decide how to tell those stories with our own life, or in a book.” Pages 259-260.

3. I love books written by C. S. Lewis. He is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read 4 of his books this year. Even in a historical fiction book that has C. S. Lewis as a character, I love it! I didn’t know until a closing chapter; his stepson wrote a closing chapter in the book. It is rare for a family member to endorse and include a chapter in a historical fiction book about their relative.

4. I’ve expressed in reviews recently how I’d love to read books with other types of love. This book is the answer. Romantic love is fine, but not always lasting. The love Megs has for her brother is lasting. It is real. It is memorable.

5. Once Upon a Wardrobe is a kind and uncomplicated story. It is a story ripe for this era of annoying viruses, inflation, busyness, and other pesky annoyances.

6. I’ve known, and know, other young children who have serious illnesses. They are often mature beyond their years. They pick up on things and have time to ponder those things those healthier children do not.
George is a perfect example and real character. The story centers on him. If he were not a part of the story it would fall flat. It would not be as memorable. George to me is like an angel. He is an important figure. He seems meek, slight, pale, translucent, yet there is power in his words. He has a message to bring. Lessons are learned through him. He is unforgettable.

7. A reference is made in the last part of the book and from C. S. Lewis about Jesus Christ. This book is not a Christian book perse, but it certainly has the behavior of one.

8. There is a romantic theme in the book, but it develops later. It is not a theme that takes over the primary focus.

Themes in the story: love, family, compassion, kindness, charity, honor, loyalty, wisdom, beauty, dreams, grief, hope, gratitude, and circle of life.

Once Upon a Wardrobe is a perfect book to read during the holidays and winter. It is literally an escape from this world.

Merry Christmas to all my readers and a most Happy and Gracious New Year!

(Review) The Reading Life: The Joy of Seeing New Worlds Through Others’ Eyes by C. S. Lewis, edited by David C. Downing and Michael G. Maudlin

Publisher and Publication Date: HarperOne. 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction.
Pages: 192.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of C. S. Lewis. Readers who enjoy reading about the joy of reading.
Rating: Very good.

Link @ HarperOne
Link @ Amazon

www.cslewis.com

Clive Staples Lewis, 1898-1964


Summary:
The Reading Life is a collection of pulled material from C. S. Lewis’s books, essays, reviews, and letters. They all have the subject of his reflections and views on reading.

The book is divided in two sections:
Part One: On The Art and Joy of Reading.
Part Two: Short Readings on Reading.

The pulled material for this book is from several sources. I have all the references listed and the number represents how often it is used: An Experiment in Criticism (4), Of Other Worlds (5), Present Concerns (2), God in the Dock (2), Surprised by Joy (4), George MacDonald: An Anthology, Studies in Worlds, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature (2), The Four Loves, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature (2), Selected Literary Essays (3), “Letters to Arthur Greeves” (10), The Weight of Glory (2), Christian Reflections (2), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (2), “Letter to Ruth Pitter”, The Four Loves, The World’s Last Night and Other Essays (2), Mere Christianity (2), “Letter to Warfield M. Firor”, “Letters to Rhona Bodle” (2), “Letter to Sarah Neylan”, “Letters to Dom Bede Griffiths” (2), Rehabilitations and Other Essays, and Reflections on the Psalms.


My Thoughts:
I feel it is important to list all of the references for two reasons.
1. The Reading Life doesn’t have an index or notes section. The source is given with each reference at the quote, but it is not in complete for a one stop reference .
2. It is important for the reader to know if the book uses too many references from the same source and not enough from others.

I feel The Reading Life has complied a solid collection for the single volume book. I see a few repeaters, but not heavy with them.

My favorite take-away from the book is learning Lewis had a fantastic memory. If a student began to say lines from Paradise lost, Lewis picked up where the student stopped and continued by memory. It didn’t matter where in the book the lines were spoken, Lewis knew the book in its entirety by memory. He also had a strong memory from all the books he’d read. So, not only was he an avid reader and writer, but had a strong memory.

“Why We Read” and “How To Know If You Are A True Reader” are my favorite chapters. These are actually the first chapters in the book.
I know the reasons why I read, but I enjoyed Lewis’ wordy explanation of why I read. It sounds much better coming from him.
I already know I’m a true reader, but one of the reasons has never dawned on me. I re-read books. Lewis states this as the first reason for a “true reader.”

A funny chapter is on murdering words. “Verbicide, the murder of a word, happens in many ways.” Page 81.

And, because I am a Tolkien fan. I enjoyed reading Lewis’s reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The Reading Life is small, and I dislike. I’d prefer a large volume on Lewis’s quotes on reading.


(Review) Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer, Illustrated by James A. Owen

Publisher and Publication Date: Black Squirrel Books/Kent State University Press. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. Critical analysis of the writing team of C. S. Lewis and
J. R. R. Tolkien.
Pages: 224. I counted total length of book.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Tolkien and Lewis readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

Summary:
Bandersnatch is a book about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien who were friends and fellow writers. Diana Pavlac Glyer carefully researched how they influenced one another, helped with revisions, encouraged, and criticized. She wanted to know what kind of impact they had on one other?

My Thoughts:
Bandersnatch is a book a Lewis or Tolkien fan will love. Since I’m fond of both writers, this book is of joyful interest.
There are some people who beautifully and even magically click. Their personalities, common interests, and all those things they hold dear are swept up together in a strong and deep friendship. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien had that special kind of relationship.

Several topics are explored that I enjoyed reading:
How the writers first met, how the Inklings literary group began, other influential members of the group, and their individual writings.
I enjoyed reading about Glyer’s correspondence with Christopher Tolkien.
I enjoyed reading about her findings on why the Inklings literary group worked.
I enjoyed reading about the men themselves: their personalities and brief biographical information.
The pen and ink illustrations add a strong visual appeal (especially the dragons).

Bandersnatch is adapted from a previous book Glyer wrote, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. The link is to Amazon.