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A Severe Mercy Paperback – July 1, 1987

4.7 out of 5 stars 467 ratings

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Frequently bought together

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as "the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers." Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful pagan love borne out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share. As a symbol of their love, they name their dream schooner the Grey Goose, "for the grey goose, if its mate is killed flies on alone and never takes another."

While studying at Oxford, Sheldon and Davy develop a friendship with C.S. Lewis, under whose influence and with much intellectual scrutiny they accept the Christian doctrine. As their devotion to God intensifies, Sheldon realizes that he is no longer Davy's primary love--God is. Within this discovery begins a brewing jealousy.

Shortly after, Davy acquires a fatal illness. After her death Sheldon embarks on an intense experience of grief, "to find the meaning of it, taste the whole of it ... to learn from sorrow whatever it had to teach." Through painstaking reveries, he comes to discover the meaning of "a mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love." He learns that her death "had these results: It brought me as nothing else could do to know and end my jealously of God. It saved her faith from assault. ...And it saved our love from perishing."

Replete with 18 letters from C.S. Lewis, A Severe Mercy addresses some of the universal questions that surround faith--the existence of God and the reasons behind tragedy. --Jacque Holthusen

Review

“No brief review can do justice to the human depth of this book. It invites us to explore a beautiful dollhouse of love and to witness the destruction of a relation too exquisite to last.” (Washington Post)

“Here is a book for anyone who has truly loved another person.” (Christianity Today)

“[A] deep, uncompromising story about human and divine love.” (Los Angeles Times)

“A towering and noble work in its own right, wrought by a real craftsman . ..” (New Oxford Review)

“A gem of a book . . . delivers an extraordinary impact on the reader.” (Eternity)

Product details

  • Item Weight : 7.1 ounces
  • Paperback : 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 9780060688240
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0060688240
  • Product Dimensions : 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Publisher : HarperOne; Reprint Edition (July 1, 1987)
  • Language: : English
  • ASIN : 0060688246
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 467 ratings

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
467 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on February 4, 2017
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Top reviews from other countries

Hopeneverdies
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Don't give up before the end!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 4, 2019
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Michael
5.0 out of 5 stars ... it slowly and carefully - there's a lot of good solid Christian teaching
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 1, 2017
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Keen Learner
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2018
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David Leyshon
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a true story about the love between two young people - and how they coped ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2015
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Savvy Shopper
3.0 out of 5 stars good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2013
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