I am astounded at how much I loved this book. It became one of my favorite books overnight basically.
I have never been a huge C.S. Lewis fan. I’ve only read “The Chronicles of Narnia” when I was younger, and although I did read them twice they were the types of books I essentially left in my childhood. I never cared to revisit them. I wasn’t crazy about seeing any of the newer film adaptations. And I definitely didn’t seek out his other writings.
Until I came across “Till We Have Faces”.
My rating for this book: 5/5
This was one of his last books, and apparently he considered it his best work.
I found out about it while I was browsing fairy-tales and story adaptations on the internet. My favorite tale has always been “Cupid and Psyche”, and so when I came across this adaptation of that classic story I couldn’t believe it took me 28 years to find it!
After reading a few reviews that spoke highly of it, I decided to embark on this journey.
I finished it in a few days despite my finals week fast approaching (this is how I know it was truly a good book! Ha ha), and I was awestruck (for lack of a better word).
I would love to take a deep dive into all of the underlying meanings and psychological connections of this work. But at the same time I’m not sure if I could do it justice at this point. As was mentioned in some of the reviews I read about this novel, it requires many readings to even fool yourself into thinking you have a grasp on the underlying tones.
So I have decided to simply write a post urging people to give this book a try. I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I won’t reveal too much about how the book evolves and grows from the story of Cupid and Psyche.
What I can tell you is that Lewis chose to elaborate on the sister’s story, not Psyche herself. One of the sisters who in the original tale is portrayed as being overcome with jealousy when she witnesses Psyche’s good fortune with her invisible god. She puts some ideas into Psyche’s head that inevitably spells her demise. This is the course of the original tale, and if you haven’t read it I urge you to check it out here.
In Lewis’s creation, he delves into the psyche (pun intended) of the sister (Orual) and the result is an unapologetic and raw masterpiece.
I love this telling because the sister is so humanly flawed. Almost painfully flawed. But the way Lewis wrote it, I found myself neither voting for her nor casting her down.
He somehow captured the magic that fairy-tales provide in his story. When I’m reading a fairly-tale, I soak in the experience for what it is. I’m sure not everyone feels this way, but for me I never find myself nitpicking the characters. They represent something, and they all play a part of the whole in the story. When I read “Till We Have Faces”, I engaged in it the exact same way. Every character felt strategically placed as a representation of something that culminated into the whole of the book.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy book to read. I read it quickly and found it incredibly interesting, but it wasn’t a happy book. If anything, the essence of the book was about suffering.
As I promised earlier, I won’t give away the ending, but I do want to entreat people to try this book out for themselves.
If you’re into fairy-tales and mythology you will find it interesting in the least. If you’re into philosophy, theology, and/or psychology I think you’ll have a field day. If you’re into fantasy and classic literature simultaneously you will have no trouble flying through this book in a few days time.
Overall, this book has inspired me to investigate more of C.S. Lewis’s work.
Please comment if you have any suggestions or input on what I should read next!
Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy!
“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble we think we mean?
How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
“And you won’t understand the wonder and glory of my adventure unless you listen to the bad part.”
“For the world had broke in pieces and Psyche and I were not in the same piece.”
“Perhaps in the soul, as in the soil, those growths that show the brightest colours and put forth the most overpowering smell have not always the deepest root.”
“And for all I can tell, the only difference is that what many see we call a real thing, and what only one sees we call a dream.”