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Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman Hardcover – June 19, 2009


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Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman + Smoke on the Mountain: An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments + And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman (Hendrickson Classic Biographies)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 426 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Co. (June 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080286399X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802863997
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Don W. King is professor of English at Montreat College and editor of Christian Scholar’s Review. He is the author of over sixty articles on C. S. Lewis, and his other books include C. S. Lewis, Poet and Hunting the Unicorn: A Critical Biography of Ruth Pitter.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By FaithfulReader.com on November 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I've "lived" with this book for a week, and I still cannot stop staring at the undated jacket photo of young (twenty-something?) Joy Davidman. She's staring soberly into the camera, the flash reflecting in her watery eyes. She's stunningly beautiful and hauntingly present. A store browser might be swayed to buy the book on the merits of the jacket alone. But there's so much more to be revealed by reading the hefty volume of letters written by Joy Davidman, whose reputation might have been lost to history had she not married C. S. "Jack" Lewis, famed author of the Chronicles of Narnia series.

The first letters were written in 1936; at age 21, she already has a master's degree from Columbia and is corresponding about her poetic aspirations with Stephen Vincent Benét. This brings up a notable feature of the collection: it is designed for lay readers as well as literary types. The editor provides footnotes that give basic information on virtually all correspondents. If you don't happen to know the import of Benét in his time --- a Pulitzer Prize winner --- it's laid out for you right at the bottom of the page.

By age 30, she is a prize-winning poet and has published her first novel. She's a member of the Communist Party and an editor for its American magazine New Masses. She has married a fellow writer and Communist, William Lindsay Gresham, and is a mother. Many of the early letters focus on her own writing pursuits and also reveal her as a no-nonsense editorial mentor-critic. For example, she is quoted as saying, "What the words do not contain, you cannot add with punctuation.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M Laroya on February 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to know more about the personal side of Joy Davidman, this is a good book for that. The author started with an over view on her life. There are a few notes here and there that give some context to what she was writing about. I think that it would have been better if the author had intertwined more of the overview section in between the letters. It was good to get a big picture up front, but as you read through the letters, it would have been better to get those specifics in between the letters. Overall a good read.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Smaw on September 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this collection of the letters of Joy Davidman to be extremely interesting. I was thrilled to gain the insight into her dramatic life. Dr. King did an outstanding job organizing these letters and filling in any gaps or misconceptions with a thorough explanation. This book is a valuable addition to my library. It should be welcome universally in personal collections especially when there is an interest in the life of C.S. Lewis.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By FYI TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've studied C.S. Lewis (and The Inklings), enjoyed Shadowlands, and of course was curious about Davidman. She was Lewis' muse, utterly formative in his later years and faith, as described in his classic A Grief Observed. Thus, I read the fine biography And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman. This bio constantly refers to Davidman's conversion essay, "The Longest Way Around." I saw that thankfully, it was contained in "Out of My Bone."

What a shock to discover what Davidman actually wrote about herself. This substantial chapter is the crux through which to view Davidman; this locus provides a necessary perspective for the entire book. Early on, in various letters, one realizes this person was driven by external sociopolitical ideologies, narcism, and was limited by self-absorption. Later, Lewis leavened her personality, as she did his. I strongly suggest reading the above-mentioned bio "And God Came In" for further perspective. Davidman is not the character one expects. Rather than describe the positive force of faith, there's grotesque anti-Judaism that any Christian should abhor. In "Out of My Bone," Davidman's self-hating anti-Semitism is a shock. One may have hoped for inspiration in her narrative, in the struggle for faith, not her ugly justification for conversion. Again, this writing dates from 1951, shortly after the Holocaust's millions of bodies were buried. Bizarre.
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