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Summary

The first full biography of Joy Davidman brings her out from C. S. Lewis' shadow, where she has long been hidden, to reveal a powerful writer and thinker.

Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis' memoir, A Grief Observed. Now, through extraordinary new documents as well as years of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis to your ears in the fullness and depth she deserves.

A poet and radical, Davidman was a frequent contributor to the communist vehicle New Masses and an active member of New York literary circles in the 1930s and '40s. Born Jewish in the Bronx, she was an atheist then a practitioner of Dianetics; she converted to Christianity after experiencing a moment of transcendent grace. A mother, a novelist, a vibrant and difficult and intelligent woman, she set off for England in 1952, determined to captivate the man whose work had changed her life.

Davidman became the intellectual and spiritual partner Lewis never expected but cherished. She helped him refine his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. Their relationship - begun when Joy wrote to Lewis as a religious guide - grew from a dialogue about faith, writing, and poetry into a deep friendship and a timeless love story.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Abigail Santamaria (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Joy

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    5 out of 5 stars

I love Joy Davidman.

I'm low key mad at the author for her hard tone towards Joy. I wish she had been a little more objective. On the upside her lack of sympathy made me fall in love with Joy Davidman even more. The Lord does truly save. Joy and Jack drove that point home.

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interesting

she was an interesting if flawed person. It was also an interesting description of the post war world.

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Complex and Interesting

This book gives the back story to the meeting and then marriage of Joy Gresham and CS ‘Jack’ Lewis.
People who have seen the film ‘Shadowlands’ might be surprised at this account, but hopefully better informed. I think the film ( based on a stage play) did a good job within the limitation of the medium but I’d encourage anyone whose interest has been stimulated by whatever means to listen to this account.

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  • Christine
  • 25-06-16

A tough life for a tough woman

I purchased this book because I was so interested in how a confirmed lifelong celebrity bachelor gets swept up in the siren song of a woman from a different country, religion, ethnicity, and social class. Boy was I in for it--their story wasn't easy. Her story wasn't easy. This book was truly a testament to the art of the biography. Santamaria, after what proved to be a very thorough research process, created a character who you can truly love and hate at the same time and relayed such a vivid image of 1940's, 50's America and 1950's, 60's England. My "rose colored glasses" perspective on the life of the mid-century American writer was blasted by this book, and the realities of that time make me so grateful to be alive now. Bernadette Dunne's narration was artful, entertaining, and demonstrative of an actor who really researched and understood the characters she took on. Listening to this book was a really lovely and inspiring experience.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Brenton D Dickieson
  • 23-05-19

Gripping Biography, Engaging Reader

Gripping Biography, Engaging Reader: this really is one of the strongest biographies I have ever read, and a pretty good reader to help me reread this book

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  • Debbie
  • 11-04-16

A History Primer on the Times AND Joy Davidman

For those who've loved C. S. Lewis, his writings or the Narnia series, and want a closer look into the woman whom he eventually married, this is an excellent book . . . at times dry, but extremely detailed, the author takes the listener back to the birth and childhood of Joy Davidman . . . her parents were Jewish and immigrated to the US from Poland . . . stern and strict, both her parents were teachers, and expected the same from Joy, who was an extremely bright, if difficult, free thinking child . . . bucking her parents authority at every turn . . . from an early age, Joy was a writer . . . but she did, indeed, follow in her parents footsteps to become a teacher . . . I cannot say that I liked Joy very much, but I was fascinated by her . . . and I quickly came to see how the liberals of today came to be . . . I cheered when she finally came to her senses and realized that she had blindly followed a bunch of hogwash when she bought into atheism and communism, without testing either of them, or following them to their natural conclusions . . . and my heart melted when she knew her childhood "fairyland" to be God given . . . and the peace she found there to be the peace that surpasses all understanding . . . once saved, Joy, as all us warty Christians, does not become completely lovable . . . but continues to resort back to manipulative tactics, both with her husband and C.S. Lewis . . . wow . . . don't we all fight that little devil on our shoulders? The discovery of Joy's cancer, her suffering, eventual marriage to C.S. Lewis became her refining fire . . . it became her pain, her taming, and ironically it became her joy . . . and the that of C.S. Lewis, I believe . . . for without it, I'm not sure he would have married Joy or ever discovered ALL of the Four Loves . . .

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  • angieD
  • 26-01-21

love!!

Great biography of strong woman who tried hard to make better life for herself and her children. I like the fact that her relationship with CS Lewis wasn't Holywood live story lol Real life real struggle and romance that developed over the time.

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  • Sarah ozacky
  • 26-08-21

Sarah

Wonderful story on an extraordinary woman. Emotional and inspirational . Narration is great as well. I listening was a real experience

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  • anonymous
  • 12-08-21

Enjoyed

I knew very little of CS Lewis, nothing of Joy Davidman. This was an objective retelling of Joys life before and after Lewis. I enjoyed the retelling of a full
and interesting life. Warts and all that shimmers.

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  • Grace M-T
  • 16-02-20

Fairly nuanced but omitted some key facts

The author provides unvarnished portrayal of Joy Davidman up until her marriage to Lewis and then gets a bit goopy. She glosses over Joy’s mercenary motives in pursuing Lewis in favor of cringe-worthy sonnets that make one harbor severe doubts about Davidman’s talents as a writer. I recommend Alister McGrath’s book: C. S. Lewis -- A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, for a less sentimental analysis. See particularly how—after her civil marriage of convenience to Lewis but before the religious one—Davidman tried to get the legal owner of the Kilns, Maureen Blake, to cede ownership to Lewis (who had lifetime tenancy) so Davidman’s sons would inherit it after Lewis’s death.