Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis

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9780151013715: Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis

The first full biography of Joy Davidman brings her out from C. S. Lewis’s shadow, where she has long been hidden, to reveal a powerful writer and thinker.

Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis’s memoir, A Grief Observed. Now, through extraordinary new documents as well as years of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis to the page in the fullness and depth she deserves.

A poet and radical, Davidman was a frequent contributor to the communist vehicle New Masses and an active member of New York literary circles in the 1930s and 40s. After growing up Jewish in the Bronx, she was an atheist, then a practitioner of Dianetics; she converted to Christianity after experiencing a moment of transcendent grace. A mother, a novelist, a vibrant and difficult and intelligent woman, she set off for England in 1952, determined to captivate the man whose work had changed her life.

Davidman became the intellectual and spiritual partner Lewis never expected but cherished. She helped him refine his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. Their relationship—begun when Joy wrote to Lewis as a religious guide—grew from a dialogue about faith, writing, and poetry into a deep friendship and a timeless love story.
 

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From the Inside Flap:

“Joy Davidman was manipulative, endearing, brilliant, and obsessive—and C. S. Lewis, one of the most influential and beloved spiritual writers of the twentieth century, fell in love with all of it. A complicated woman for our time, Davidman’s search for meaning and her final arrival at love will resonate deeply long after the reader has closed Santamaria’s masterful biography.”
— Kate Buford, author of Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe


Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis’s memoir A Grief Observed. Now, through extraordinary new documents as well as years of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis to the page in the fullness and depth she deserves.

A poet and radical, Davidman was an active member of New York literary and communist circles in the 1930s and ’40s. After growing up Jewish in the Bronx, she became an atheist, then a practitioner of Dianetics; she converted to Christianity after experiencing a moment of transcendent grace. A mother, a novelist, a vibrant and difficult and intelligent woman, she set off for England in 1952, determined to captivate the man whose work had changed her life.

Davidman became the intellectual and spiritual partner Lewis never expected but cherished. She helped him refine his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. Their relationship—begun when Joy wrote to Lewis for religious guidance—grew from a dialogue about faith, writing, and poetry into a deep friendship and a timeless love story.

From the Back Cover:

Praise for Joy
“Abigail Santamaria has written a luscious Narnia tale for grownups, a literary biography that takes the shape of a quest narrative, as the brilliant, idealistic Joy Davidman Gresham, writer and free spirit, adopts one cause after another until finally setting her cap for her spiritual mentor, C. S. “Jack” Lewis. Santamaria’s astonishing detective work reveals the surprising truth behind Lewis’s description of the couple as ‘a sinful woman married to a sinful man,’ even as she portrays their late-life love affair as salvational to them both.”
— Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

“A biography about the brilliant and brash New Yorker who captured C. S. Lewis’s heart was long overdue, so I’m thrilled to report that Abigail Santamaria does not disappoint. Her highly readable book should be the definitive biography of Joy Davidman for a long time to come.”
— Eric Metaxas, New York Times best-selling author of Miracles and Bonhoeffer

Joy is a delightful and fast-paced romp through a fascinating life. I read most of this book in one sitting, genuinely curious about whether this feisty, brilliant woman was going to get her happy ending. A truly impressive, even enviable debut for a writer and a historian.”
— Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of the forthcoming Madam: The Notorious Life and Times of Polly Adler

“A tour de force. Plumbing the depths of unpublished documents, Santamaria reveals the vision and writing of a young woman whose coming of age in the turbulent thirties is both distinctive and emblematic of her time.”
— Susan Hertog, author of Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Her Life

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