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A Love Observed (North Wind Books) Paperback – March 7, 2000

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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


Originally published in 1988, I found this story of the life of this extraordinary woman to be an ideal compliment to George Sayer's biography of C.S.Lewis originally entitled "Jack: C.S.Lewis and His Times" (1988) reprinted by Hodder in 2005 as "Jack: A Life of C.S.Lewis.""Joy Davidman was born into a Jewish family in New York City, 1915. Both sets of grandparents were immigrants who practiced their religion, Joy's father did not, in fact he brought up his children harshly, insisted that they follow his atheism, and put great pressure on his children to achieve. As Joy was very bright, beyond her years, with an exceptionally high IQ, she gained entry to University at an early age and was writing poetry and short stories from the start."These early chapters did not describe a particularly likeable young woman, by the time she married at twenty-seven, she and her husband were committed members of the Communist Party but both were aware there was something missing in their lives."The story continues, telling how both Joy and Bill became Christians, Bill to drop away, becoming an alcoholic, Joy to grow nearer to Christ, drawing great comfort from the writings of C.S.Lewis."This account of her life and subsequent marriage to C.S.Lewis is a worthwhile read, highly recommended."--"The Good Book Stall" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Lyle W. Dorsett is a Professor at the Beeson School of Divinity at Samford University. He is a former faculty member of Wheaton College, and a bestselling author. His books include "A Passion for Souls: The Life of D. L. Moody" and "The Essential C. S. Lewis." Lyle and his wife, Mary, founded Christ for Children International, a mission to economically impoverished children in Mexico. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: North Wind Books
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Shaw Books; First Printing edition (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087788479X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877884798
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is a book that I wish were twice as long.
Adam Shields
I very much appreciate Lyle Dorsett's account of the developing relationship between Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis.
Lawrence M. Yoder
Joy's journey is fascinating and Dorsett does an admirable job of telling her story.
Robert G. Leroe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Cipriano on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
The first sentence in the author's preface says it all... "There was absolutely nothing ordinary about Joy Davidman Lewis." This book is a testament to the truth of that statement, and is unique in its ability to show us so much about Joy Davidman prior to (or besides) her relationship with C.S. Lewis. In fact, it is only towards the mid-section of the book that she even meets Lewis for the first time in the dining room of the Eastgate Hotel, across from Magdalen College in Oxford. Dorsett does an unparalleled ORIGINAL job of documenting Joy's early family life in New York. (95% of the biography is based upon hitherto untapped primary sources). Growing up in a family where religion was at once respected and deplored, we see her unfold as a reluctant Jewess, an atheist, a militant communist, Christian convert, gifted writer/poet and screenwriter, mother and divorcee. She was a many-splendored critical thinker, and Lewis's brother Warnie tells us that "she liked walking, and she liked beer."
In her search for critical truth, Joy was greatly affected by the writings of Lewis (in particular, his Great Divorce, Miracles, and Screwtape Letters) and in the early spring of 1946 she experienced a profound conversion to Christianity. In the midst of a tumultuous and intolerable marriage, she and her two sons sailed for Liverpool from New York in August of 1952. In early September, Joy met Lewis. Anyone who has seen the Hollywood movie "Shadowlands" starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger will remember the portrayal of this initial meeting, and the relationship that followed. It must be said that the movie, though excellent, is grossly inaccurate of their actual story in many ways. For the clearest picture of one of the most heart-rending love stories of our modern age, you can do no better than to sit down with this book by Dorsett. It is an extraordinary account of two lives that were anything but ordinary.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I recently rented the movie, Shadowlands, which is based on the life story of C.S. (Jack Lewis) and his relationship with Joy Davidson. That movie is what whetted my appetite for this book. I wanted to know more and this book certainly opened up more information about the two of them and their unique relationship. I cried at the movie and I cried reading this book. I intend to read other books about C.S. Lewis. He was a man who never expected to find (or have time for) a wife, but when Joy Davidson came along--all that changed. I'm so glad this author delved more into the lives of these special people. As a woman, I wanted to feel the bonding that went on with *Jack*, and I did. I thank the author for writing this. I would recommend this book to any CS Lewis fan. The next book I plan to read is "Letters to an American Lady."
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
We have a plethora of information about C. S. Lewis: letters, books, biographies, etc. However, not much has been written about his wife, Joy Davidman. What led her, an intellectual communist atheist of Jewish heritage, to Christ? How did a divorced American with two children catch the eye of Lewis, a late-middle age British confirmed bachelor? These questions and many others are answered in "A Love Observed." For those of you who've seen "Shadowlands", the cinematic tale of their courtship and marriage, Mr. Dorsett's book provides the back-story behind the film (and takes certain parts of it to task). We are finally given a definitive look at the woman who challenged Lewis' mind and won his heart.
Joy Davidman was an exceptional person. She overcame various physical, racial, and gender barriers to become a noted published author in her own right. But the greatest leap she made was becoming a Christian. Joy intellectually struggled against God for years, but at the age of thirty-one her resistance crumbled, and in her words He "came in, and I changed (pg. 60)." After that, there was no turning back. Eventually she pursued and caught the eye of C. S. Lewis, and the rest, as they say, is history. Of course, there were difficulties. Her brash American mannerisms and straightforward personality were difficult for Lewis' friends to accept at first, and there was a bit of scandal surrounding his marriage to a divorcee. But by all appearances they loved each other, and there's no evidence that Lewis regretted marrying her.
"A Love Observed" is a fascinating glimpse into how a brilliant, strong-willed woman came to Christ and ended up marrying arguably the greatest modern Christian apologist.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael JR Jose on March 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
The film 'Shadowlands' tells the story of one of the more unlikely love matches of the twentieth century, that of C.S. Lewis, famous British scholar and author of the Narnia stories, to American author of Jewish extraction, Joy Davidman. This short, competent biography tells the story of Joy's early life as an atheist and Communist, her first marriage to a writer of thrillers, their two children, her Christian conversion, and her leaving her hard-drinking husband to come to England. C.S. Lewis enters the story as an author who influenced Joy, and later as a friend when she emigrates to England. The civil marriage of a divorcee to a famous Christian bachelor author in his fifties caused some shock back in December 1956, but was accepted by the majority who knew them. The plain authenticity of this book is greatly enhanced by Lyle Dorsett's access to family letters, papers, and also the friends and family who knew them best. It is a recommended read as it fills in details of a period of Lewis's life which is subject to a certain amount of debate and confusion, and is a good supplement to the film.
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