Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

This is a doozey of a book to be my first review, but it was indeed July's book, so here we go!!

This book is based on the myth of Psyche & Cupid. If you are not familiar with the myth, there is a summary in the very back of the book - it would have been nice to read that BEFORE reading the rest of the book! Needless to say, I was thoroughly confused the entire time I read the book. In my defense, I don't know that Lewis wanted it to make sense entirely - as we discussed in book club, we had to come to several conclusions on our own, & even still we are not sure of them.

The plot: the myth is retold from the perspective of Psyche's sister, Orual, the ugly one (Psyche's beauty is praised by all), & is Orual's journey to learn about the gods, & why they do what they do, specifically in regard to her sister Psyche. She writes out her story as a charge, an accusation, of the gods, while putting a different spin on the original myth. Her accusation is most of the book, then a small section at the end is her "answer" to the accusation (all told in story form).

What we talked about in book club: Apparently CS Lewis was really into myths, & he thought myths of gods to be the result of early humanity's search to understand THE God. So he used this myth to eventually point to the only God. (There are entire courses at seminary based on CS Lewis so we had to find this out from one girl's brother-in-law who is a pastor.) The book made a lot more sense to me after we all talked it out, mainly because I just needed a background for the book to understand it & what Lewis was aiming at. There are several themes running through the book that I became aware of after the book made more sense to me (but I definitely didn't catch them as I read it).

Recommendation: Hmm, I think one day I'll read it again, having an appropriate understanding of the book, & I'll probably like it more then. But if it sounds intriguing to you, do read it & let me know what you think. :-)


Anonymous said...

I'm reading Till We Have Faces for an honors highschool class, and I'm struggling to understand the many themes that Lewis is trying to expose. Perhaps discussing them with you will help me, just as discussing it with your book club helped you.

Jess said...

death is definitely a theme. It is seen very cheaply in this book on all the sacrifices - human and animal - made to the goddess ungit and how the king easily gives up his daughter to be sacrificed.

Love is also a theme, Orual has very selfish love concerning psyche. she only tries to save her for herself because she can't bear the thought of living without her.