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Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman Hardcover – June 19, 2009
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—actress, costar of Shadowlands, and author of Undiscovered
"Oh, this book took me back! I remember marveling at how someone so fierce could be so endearing. This volume shows us how America has, for the most part, lost its rigor in offering the sort of criticism that Joy Davidman administered to urge friends/authors/poets to higher goals. Out of My Bone is a welcome reminder of this quality in a dedicated teacher/writer and authentic individual. This assortment of letters, lists, and essays — tracing the journey of a Jew, a communist/atheist, and in the end a true Christian — is sheer Joy. . . . An enthralling capture of the keen spirit, mind, and wit of Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis."
— trustee and literary advisor to the C. S. Lewis estate
"Out of My Bone delivers a delicious shock to the system, and is a treat to anyone who likes to read. Don King has given us Joy Davidman's best book."
Marjorie Lamp Mead
— The Marion E. Wade Center
"Letters at their best offer a unique perspective into the writer's life and thoughts, and this collection is no exception. Out of My Bone tells the compelling story of Joy Davidman, a brilliant and gifted woman who records with disarming frankness the disintegration of her first marriage and subsequent struggles as a single mother of two young boys, her courageous battle with cancer, and the great happiness she eventually found in her marriage to C. S. Lewis. These letters will captivate readers with their penetrating wit, lively humor, and — most of all — poignant insights into the realities of faith and suffering."
Bruce L. Edwards
— Bowling Green State University
author of Not a Tame Lion and editor of C. S. Lewis: Life, Works, and Legacy
"Don W. King's Out of My Bone is a magnificent editorial achievement, a major contribution to our understanding of the intellectual rigor and spiritual depth of Joy Davidman. Along the way, it provides provocative new insights into Joy's relationship with C. S. Lewis — and why he would have fallen in love with her and regarded her as his literary equal. With this work Don King continues to establish himself as one of the premier Inklings scholars of our time, and now the reigning expert on the life and work of Joy Davidman."
Lyle W. Dorsett
— Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
"Don W. King, a highly regarded authority on C. S. Lewis, has skillfully collected and edited nearly twenty-five years of Joy Davidman's correspondence, many of her poems, and an important autobiographical essay. The result is an original and significant contribution to our understanding of the exceptional poet, novelist, and critic who became the wife of C. S. Lewis. The Davidman letters reveal the genius of this woman who at once captured the heart of Lewis and infuriated many of his friends."
"One finds in these letters interesting comments on Lewis's dinosaur' lecture (Cambridge) and on the marriage of Davidman and Lewis . . . on the poetry of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and American Marxists. Good bibliography."
Journal of Inklings Studies
"In this delightful and beautifully produced volume, Prof. King introduces, presents and unobtrusively annotates Davidman's collected letters, which span a period of twenty-four years, from 1936 to her death in 1960. . . . The portrait Davidman's letters paint is scintillating and many-layered, and displays the entire palette of a mind that Lewis justly described as `lithe and quick and muscular as a leopard'. Don King's clear introduction and apparatus, and his pertinent, learned and unobtrusive annotations, make this a volume equally useful to the scholar and the general reader. It cannot be recommended warmly enough."
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Top Customer Reviews
"Out of My Bone" is largely a collection of letters written by (and, in a few cases, received by) Davidman, arranged chronologically. King has included in this volume a helpful introduction as well as numerous notes that help to provide a context for many of the letters. While she does mention Lewis several times in these letters, readers who want to see a collection of love letters between Lewis and Davidman will be disappointed: They aren't included in this volume (and aren't likely to be published, even if some still exist). But readers who want to get to know Davidman better will definitely find this collection of letters interesting and valuable. Davidman's personality shines forth in her letters--particularly those with her Douglas Gresham, her ex-husband and the father of her two sons. Readers interested in Davidman's story of her spiritual journey (from secular Jew to atheist and Communist and then to Christian) will also enjoy reading this collection of letters.
Joy drank beer, and complained when there was not enough of it to her liking. She wrote fierce poetry. She showed courage in the face of an economic depression, a painful divorce, World War II, McCarthyism, and cancer. Her letters to family and friends show a constant display of strength, almost to the point of harshness. This was the woman who won C.S. Lewis' heart!
This cheering book, at times, makes me laugh at not only Joy's irony, but God's. She remarks in one letter "Jack's juveniles [the Narnian series including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader] have a small steady sale . . . but we'll never get rich from those . . . the good thing is that they don't dwindle with time - but I think it's only the most successful juveniles that go on forever." While downplaying her cancer, she remarks about nasties such as financial nightmares and the fact that mild intestinal flu played hell with her beer-drinking! There is even a picture of Joy in 1958, wearing pants and wielding an air rifle!
While tea and shortbread have their place, Joy shows the very joy in beer, laughter, intellectual pursuits, and sheer chutzpah!
My only dislike on this magnificent book is the picture of her first husband William Lindsay Gresham on the front cover, as it is my understanding that the love of her life was Lewis, and while his picture is also on the cover, I believe it would have been much more appropriate for only her, Lewis, and her sons David and Douglas to be pictured, leaving Gresham's picture in its proper place among the other photographs.
The wise seeking tales of comfort and joy, with a good loud laugh or two thrown in for good measure, would do well in reading Joy's letters, and reading them often in this excellent book.
Good read for a CS Lewis Fan.