Patti Callahan is the author of 14 novels, with topics ranging from tragedy to love to family, but her newest book, “Becoming Mrs. Lewis,” in her words, “feels different.” In the Book Talk and Tea event I attended Oct. 28, this feeling was shared amongst her readers and booksellers alike. Polly Buxton, owner of Buxton Books, even claimed it was her “favorite book of the year.” Yet, it seems as though college students might benefit the most from this new story.
“Becoming Mrs. Lewis” chronicles the love story between Joy Davidson and C.S. Lewis (author of the “Chronicles of Narnia”, “A Grief Observed” and more). The novel emphasizes “not the woman behind the man, but the woman beside the man.”
At this event, hosted by Buxton Books and located in the beautiful Circular Congregational Church, Mrs. Callahan discussed her writing and research process, and how she grew closer to the strong woman that is Joy Davidson. The woman not interested in being a damsel in distress, but had such a strong personality that some of C.S. Lewis’ greatest works were only written after they met.
Yet, Joy and her role in C.S. Lewis’ life is rarely mentioned.
In the era of #MeToo and the strive for women’s rights across the globe, it is more important now than ever to highlight these strong women in history. Joy was a poet, novelist, ex-atheist, ex-communist, reformed Jew and soon became part of the “most improbable love story–until it wasn’t.”
Joy’s story is not only a timely response to the current era, but also a treasure trove of life lessons. When asked about what messages Joy’s journey had for college students, author Patti Callahan was overflowing with answers.
“She would tell you to always search for the truth, to write with a passion, to not let anyone tell you who you should be. She would emphasize how life is too intense to be endured with logic alone. But don’t take the crumbs off the table for any man.”
Joy lived life with passion, and by attending this event and hearing Patti Callahan speak, I discovered just how that was so. We as college students have a lot to learn, not only from Joy’s story, but also from the opportunities available to us throughout our lives, whether in Charleston or beyond. Joy’s journey was really good “not because it was easy, but because it was anything but.” That can hold true for our lives as well.