Tag Archives: C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

While C. S. Lewis is one of my all-time favorite authors, I’ve actually read very little of his work beyond the Chronicles of Narnia. I chose The Great Divorce because it was on the top left shelf of a bookcase in the basement.

When I started reading it my first thought was “The Good Place!” and sure enough at least one other person had that thought.

The book starts out in what we find out later is Hell. A group of denizens in Hell are boarding a bus to what we found out later is an outpost of Heaven. During the bus ride the narrator (Lewis himself, apparently) mostly listens to others talk, complain, or fight.

Once in the other place Lewis meets up with George McDonald who shows him around and when not eavesdropping on other conversations, tries to convince Lewis to follow him to Heaven.

It is a small book, but very heavy and it took me at least a week to read. I am glad I finally read something of Lewis’ that was not hiding religion inside fairy tales.

A list of books

I posted this on Facebook after being “tagged” by at least 3 people to post a list of ten books that somehow influenced me. Mali suggested I post this on my blog. As I said on Facebook, I think the main connecting theme of my list is that I have vivid memories of reading each of them — and images in my mind of the characters, settings and plots. I can even feel the emotion I felt when reading each of the books.

1. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn — this book opened my eyes to the civil rights movement. Many of the characters still live with me to this day.

2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote — I read this in middle school. The images it evoked are still etched in my mind.

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker — the first non-young adult novel I ever read (in 7th grade). I adored stories about vampires and this was a classic.

4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (she also wrote 101 Dalmatians) — “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink” is one of my favorite opening lines.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (Yes I know this is 7 books, but I consider it one large book) — I loved these books which I read in my teens, although my teacher read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to us in 6th grade. I’ve re-read several of the books since my first reading and shared them with my students and children.

6. Billy Brown the Babysitter by Tamara Kitt — the first book I ever read on my own. I remember suddenly being able to read and just read it.

7. My Bookhouse Books edited by Olive Beaupre Miller — another set of books, but each one was extremely important to me. These books made me a reader. I learned so much about literature from this set. The very best gift my parents ever gave me was this anthology set of 12 books (which seems to be available for purchase again! I wonder if it has been updated for political correctness.)

8. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu — I received this book to review for a website before it was published. I didn’t have high hopes since it was written by a — then — unknown author, but absolutely loved it. I rarely re-read books, but have read this one a few times. I wrote the first Amazon review about this book. The next day I got to meet Mr. Mengestu. When I told him my name so he could sign my copy he recognized it and thanked me for the review.

9. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters — a well-written ghost story in which a house is a main character.

10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson — I’d never read anything by Shirley Jackson except The Lottery but I liked the Gothic-like look of the cover of this book so bought it and read it. It is another book in which a house is a main character. Very well written and another book I re-read.

Where’s Your Mecca?

This morning as I gazed sleepily at my Moosewood Restaurant coffee cup I remembered fondly the time I dragged my husband, young children and mother to the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. We were on our way to or back from Toronto and, since I’d been a loyal fan of their cookbooks for several years, I wanted to eat at the restaurant — something that had been on my wishlist for years — so the detour was made. The food was great and just being at the restaurant was special, so I think the detour was worth it.

The only other Meccas for me were C. S. Lewis’ home and Watership Down — both of which I visited in the late 1970s when Jeremy’s father drove Jeremy and me down the backbone of England to visit relatives near Dover. He asked if there were any [literary — he was a librarian] sites I wanted to see and of course I said Oxford and then added Watership Down since that was nearby. I believe we also visited Stonehenge on that trip. So, I suppose we hit three of my Meccas that year.

This post makes me want to revisit (in this blog) every place Jack Burgoyne took me. He was a huge influence on the adult I became. While I don’t regret my decisions about his son, I do regret that meant I lost Jack.

Do you have a Mecca? Where is it? Have you visited it? Did it live up to your expectations?