Monday, October 31, 2011

C.S. Lewis: The Man Behind Narnia

At 60 years old, the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis is as popular today as it was in the 1950s. Beatrice Gormley's C.S. Lewis: The Man Behind Narnia gives a great glimpse into the life of the creator, and everything that fed into the development of such a legendary series.

This biography takes you into the life of Clive Staples Lewis, beginning when, at the age of four, he pronounced himself "Jacksie." From then on, he was Jacksie--later, Jack--to his friends and family.

From the tragedy of his mother's death when he was nine, to his difficult childhood in boarding school, from his atheism to eventual accepting of Christ, C.S. Lewis: The Man Behind Narnia shows how everything Lewis did and experienced eventually led to the creation of Narnia.

What I Like: I often find biographies dry and boring. This one, however, was not. It was engaging, and I couldn't put it down. Many of the sources for the book are letters Lewis wrote to friends, relatives, and fans; this made the book very fresh--almost as though Lewis himself was telling us about his life and experiences in a third person form.

There are oodles of pictures in the book, which really helped define Lewis' world--and break up the monotony often found in biographies. They're not all of Lewis. Some illustrate his view from his rooms at Oxford, or picture the house he grew up in near Belfast, Ireland.

What I Dislike: There wasn't anything to dislike in this book; however, there was one minor instance where I wish the author, Beatrice Gormley, had been more clear. In Chapter 8, World War II is mentioned at length, and at one point, the book specifies that WWII ended May 9, 1945. And, it did--but only in the European Theater. The war continued until later that year in the Pacific Theater. This minor error is nothing that severely detracts from the overall quality of the book, but I should mention it.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 9 - 12, although some of the topics, such as Lewis' father's depression/alcoholism, the abuse Lewis suffered at Malvern College, and the advice to divorce that Lewis gave to the woman he would eventually marry may be more suitable for a slightly older reader, perhaps 11 and up. The "Further Reading" section also makes note of other books by or about Lewis, and a couple of these have warnings about the nature of the content found in them.

Publisher Info: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005; ISBN: 978-0-8028-5301-1; Paperback, 192 pgs., $14.00

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1 comment:

Enjoy Life Book Reviews said...

Sounds Great. C.S Lewis was a great character with many life-inspiring quotes. I wouldn't mind reading this book - even if I don't fit into the recommended age group :-)

~ Rory