Every year, I think to myself… C.S. Lewis is a great author, and I should read more of his work. And every year… well, I haven’t yet. But I’m going to give myself partial credit, because I just read the most wonderful historical fiction book *about* Mr. Lewis… and it made me want to read his work all over again!
“Where did Narnia come from?”
The answer will change everything.
Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.
She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.
Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.
Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Megs many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.
Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan is a lovely, imaginative look at the work and life of C.S. Lewis through the eyes of a pair of siblings in 1950. Megs and George are simply delightful together, and the way Megs wants to find her brother all the answers is heart rending.
It’s such an interesting scenario, because from one viewpoint, this book is all about the siblings, but from another, it is a look into the mind of one of the best known writers of the 20th century. The stories that Mr. Lewis tells Megs over the course of their visits cover his childhood, his time in the war, his family, and more. The book was well researched and the author has obviously put a great deal of effort into learning the life of C.S. Lewis.
Although there were heartbreaking moments both in the life of George and the rest of the Devonshire family, and in the stories told by Mr. Lewis, the story is filled with hope. It’s no secret that Lewis wrote from a Christian perspective and much has been written about the Christian allegory of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. While this isn’t an overly religious book, that perspective is woven through the story, and is summed up well by this quote from Megs:
“And you’ve allowed me to see that we are all enchanted not by being able to explain it all, but by its very mystery. That is – finally, that is – enough.”
The stories within Once Upon a Wardrobe are lovely and memorable, and the book’s ending is so poignant. It will stay with you for a while like a wisp in your mind.
I obviously adored this book, and more than anything, it makes me finally want to add more C.S. Lewis to my list this year. If you’re a Lewis fan, or you just enjoy cozy, magical stories, this one should be on your reading list. I’m also planning to add Becoming Mrs. Lewis by the same author.
Are you a C.S. Lewis fan? Have you read this lovely story? Let me know what you thought. Happy reading, friends!
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My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the complimentary digital review copy of this title.