Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review (sort of): Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

I did read all of this book. It was the book for the month of February for Semicolon's Book Club. I wasn't sure how much I would like it, since C.S. Lewis' books are ones that I sometimes like, and sometimes don't. But I dove in, trying not to make any judgments about it until I was finished.

At first, I enjoyed the story of Orual and Psyche. I was intrigued by the character of the Fox and I began to truly dislike the king. I felt drawn into the story.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth RetoldHowever, I think because I don't read much fantasy stories, I soon tired of this one. I stopped several times trying to figure out what was happening and why it was happening. Although I read it completely, I had to make myself finish.

Now, for those who like fantasy and/or C.S. Lewis, I have decided to take the coward's way out and instead of trying to tell you what the book was actually about, I will quote other's reviews and let them tell you. So here are those quotes along with links so you can read the reviews in full:

"The story is set in the fictional kingdom of Glome around the last centuries of B.C. (approx. 100-200 years before Christ's birth). As the story is narrated by Princess Orual it characteristically follows her life, from a young girl to an old woman, with everyone else taking the role of supporting characters. Thus along the way the reader learns of Psyche and her story and what part Orual plays in it. Although a story of Orual, Psyche is very much at the heart of it, it is because of Psyche that Orual is even telling her story -- a story that she believes to be an accurate and truthful account of her life and which she will use to plead her case before the gods, whom she believes have treated her unfairly." (A Library is a Hospital For the Mind)

"There are two daughters of a mean old king in a barely civilized fictitious land. Their mother has died. The older daughter, Orual, is but a child observing. The king marries another wife for another political link but more so for a son. But this young mother, dying at delivery, produces only another baby girl. Orual takes it upon herself to become the baby's new mother. And baby Istra is a remarkable beauty. Orual has learned from their Greek slave/tutor that Istra means Psyche in Greek. As she grows she only becomes more beautiful - for she is bright and meek and kind as well." (Love To Learn)

"In Till We Have Faces Lewis reworks the myth of the Psyche and Cupid. It is a compelling story of Love, and Love’s imitators (desire, dependency, etc). Lewis’ adaptation is complete with vibrant characters, an absorbing plot, and many layers of meaning for those who can’t resist the temptation to explore and deconstruct them.

I expect this book to be on my list of favorite books read in 2007." (Kevin Stilley)

So, there you are. Call me ignorant, or call me uninformed. I just didn't get very much out of this book. Yes, I did see the allegory and "layers of meaning" (probably not all, but some). I simply didn't enjoy it. Sorry.


Sherry said...

Not all great minds think alike. That's assuming we both have great minds. Do you watch LOST?

Phyllis said...

It's a strange and difficult book! I've read it twice now and each time I'm wondering through the whole book what the point is and what's really going on. At the same time it's one of my all-time favourites and I find it absolutely fascinating. You might enjoy listening to Peter Kreeft's lecture on the book in order to get more out of it: http://peterkreeft.com/audio.htm.