21/03/2006

A Severe Mercy

I had never before heard of Sheldon Vanauken, who wrote this biographical book. I thought it would be interesting because it mentioned CS Lewis on the front - and indeed, the great man did come into it, as a friend of the author in the latter half of the book. Several of his letters are reproduced.

But I was soon caught up in the story, irrelevant of famous friends. The author describes his falling in love, the deep kinship he and his girlfriend - soon his wife - experienced, the plans they made, the 'shining barrier' they built to ensure nothing would destroy their love. Yet it's all rather poignant because in the very first chapter - almost the first page - we learn that the book is written after the death of the author's wife.

It's also clear that while the two young people are agnostics, even pagans (in the classic sense) when they meet, they will eventually become Christians. But knowing these apparent 'spoilers' does not in any way spoil the story. Instead it adds to the suspense as he backtracks to their first meeting, their amazing friendship, their hopes and desires.

Very moving in places, encouraging, inspirational, and thought-provoking.

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