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Letters to an American Lady

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3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  543 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
On October 26, 1950, C. S. Lewis wrote the first of more than a hundred letters he would send to a woman he had never met, but with whom he was to maintain a correspondence for the rest of his life.

Ranging broadly in subject matter, the letters discuss topics as profound as the love of God and as frivolous as preferences in cats. Lewis himself clearly had no idea that thes
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 19th 1967 by Eerdmans (first published November 30th 1966)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom StoppardRosemary's Baby by Ira LevinNicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. MassieThe Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Best Books of 1967
44th out of 99 books — 36 voters
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisMere Christianity by C.S. LewisThe Abolition of Man by C.S. LewisPerelandra by C.S. LewisThat Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
Best of C.S. Lewis
40th out of 100 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,312)
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Dianna
Apr 13, 2009 Dianna rated it liked it
Shelves: bm, read-2009
I haven't read as much C.S. Lewis as I would like (I've read neither all of Mere Christianity or The Screwtape Letters, horror of all horrors), but I've very much liked his more autobiographical works - Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed particularly. I first read some of Lewis' letters in A Severe Mercy where Sheldon Vanauken begins a correspondence and friendship with him - an influential one, to say the least.

These letters, however, are a another kettle of fish altogether. They are one si
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Jonathan
Feb 23, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
In describing this book, I wrote to a friend today:

This summer when Amanda, the boys and I were visiting with her family, Jessica, Amanda's sister-in-law, wanted to take the girls “antiquing.” In fact, this may be one of my wife's least favorite activities. In short, she is not a shopper. Nonetheless, because she is a good sport and because she loves Jessica (who is married to her younger brother, Wade), she obliged.

At some little hole-in-the-wall shop, in a small town in this nondescript state
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Paul
Sep 05, 2009 Paul rated it liked it
This book is a collection of letters written by C. S. Lewis to an American woman during the last 13 years of his life. I found it pretty dull reading at first. The book only contains Lewis' half of the conversation and most of the letters are pretty short or deal with trivial matters. But, for those who are interested in a more of a personal glimpse of Lewis there are some interesting insights offered: Like what he thought about what journalists have written about him in papers and magazines, hi ...more
Megan Larson
Aug 22, 2012 Megan Larson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in C.S. Lewis
Recommended to Megan by: Karen Hull
Oh, where to start? This book is so appealing on multiple levels--first, it appeals to the nosy snoop in me, which SO enjoys reading other people's mail, especially people in whom I have such an interest. Thankfully, this book allowed me to do that without breaking any federal laws--here or abroad. Secondly, it made 'Jack' Lewis even easier for me to love than he had been before.
The situation was this: Lewis, already known worldwide and well respected literarily and academically, received all k
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Donna Gabbard
I enjoyed reading these letters written by C.S. Lewis. They offer insight into his personal life. Not much is disclosed about the "American lady" who was the recipient of these letters. I found it a bit odd that he ended up sending monetary support to this pen pal. Even though they had an ongoing correspondence, most of the letters written by Lewis were somewhat short as he frequently would mention the massive correspondence that he had to keep up with. Her letters seemed to come quite frequentl ...more
Kate
Feb 27, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2014
This was just what I was needing. It amazes me that Lewis spent so much time corresponding with so many people, because he states often that he hates writing letters. But he cared for this American Lady, gave her advice, and when he could, sent her money to help her. It is a beautiful relationship to read (and not dissimilar to some people these days who may never meet but help each other across the internet with advice and a bit of monetary help). I noticed in particular that Lewis calls search ...more
Philip
Mar 28, 2014 Philip rated it really liked it
This little book shows a different side of C.S. Lewis – not the great apologist, but the simple everyday piety of a godly man praying for someone he has never. Lewis developed a friendship with this woman over the course of several years. These letters cover every imaginable topic, from pets and weather to the forgiveness of sins; many are simply an attempt to encourage each other as their bodies decay from old age. Very encouraging, very convicting.
J. Alfred
Feb 12, 2013 J. Alfred rated it liked it
"We were talking about cats and dogs the other day and decided that both have consciences but the dog, being an honest, humble person always has a bad one, but the cat is a Pharisee and always has a good one." I very much enjoyed seeing Lewis, my hero, kind of behind the scenes like this-- there's always another facet of him to know. This collection of letters is at times touching, at times encouraging, and at all times fascinating for the Jack-junkie.
Briana
Jun 13, 2009 Briana rated it really liked it
Shelves: c-s-lewis
Happiness is stumbling across a C.S. Lewis book whilst cleaning the garage. ;)

Definitely recommended for C.S. Lewis fans, along with Surprised by Joy and A Grief Observed. While SbJ is a well-thought-out autobiography and AGO is a beautiful expression of sorrow, Letters to an American Lady is simply Lewis as a normal person, capable of everyday pleasures and fears. Lewis liked cats, he liked pleasant weather, he disliked the commercialism of Xmas v. real, peaceful Christmas, he rather disliked h
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Linda
Dec 05, 2010 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As usual, C.S.Lewis is chock full of very wise counsel delivered in a very matter-of-fact way. I am amazed that such a famous author would correspond for so many years with someone he had never met and that he never would meet, but then again as in much of his correspondence he was writing as a ministry fulfilling God's call on his life. The book contains only Lewis' letters to this unidentified lady, and from his words I found myself becoming very judgmental of this tiresome woman who seemed to ...more
Keri
Oct 29, 2013 Keri rated it liked it
• “(By the way, don’t ‘weep inwardly’ and get a sore throat. If you must weep, weep: a good honest howl! I suspect we – and especially, my sex – don’t cry enough now-a-days. Aeneas and Hector and Beowulf, Roland and Lancelot blubbered like schoolgirls, so why shouldn’t we?).”

• “Fear is horrid, but there’s no reason to be ashamed of it. Our Lord was afraid (dreadfully so) in Gethsemane. I always cling to that as a very comforting fact.”

• “I can share too in your thwarted desire to be useful. We
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Emilia P
May 17, 2009 Emilia P rated it really liked it
Shelves: real-books, churrrch
Wow, what a nice little surprise. I found this at a book sale and I had heard of it before, but of course, name recognition prompted me to pick it up.

It's very sweet, letters only from the Lewis side to an anonymous American lady. There are a lot of letters about work and their respective illnesses, and also a lovely interlude when he married his wife Joy and was worried about her health and enjoying her company before she died.
I didn't realize that he didn't marry her until he already knew she
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Debbie Raymond
Jan 21, 2015 Debbie Raymond rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book. I read it twice and parts of it even more. I was so excited to introduce it to my Book Club. It went over like a lead balloon. No one liked it. Except me and I still do. I love books that are letters back and forth from author to friend. This one is especially captivating because it's CS LEWIS! And it's a true story. Because CS Lewis wrote long letters...long long letters...he included a lot of his philosophy which is fascinating.
Caleb
Oct 31, 2012 Caleb rated it it was amazing
This is the third book of Lewis’s letters I’ve read. I enjoy his letters about as much as anything he wrote. This collection is glimpse into the later years of his life, up till the very end. As in everything he wrote there is much wisdom here, many passages to highlight and go back to, etc.

At times I almost felt sorry for him. Letter-writing seemed a real burden, and apparently he tried to answer everyone who ever wrote to him (I don’t see how he had time to write his books since he wrote so m
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Chrissy
Mar 02, 2013 Chrissy rated it liked it
For over a decade, C.S. Lewis carried out regular correspondence with an anonymous (to us) American woman. This book is the collection of letters he wrote her and they provide a glimpse into Lewis' everyday life. The letters cover theology, the publishing world, illness, grief, and the occasional comparison between American and British life. I'm fascinated with the way that letters can tell a story, so in that regard I enjoyed the book tremendously. However, it seems that Lewis' pen pal was a bi ...more
Ellen
Apr 03, 2014 Ellen rated it really liked it
Loved this. So incredible to see a glimpse of the man Lewis really was (unbelievably patient and self-sacrificing, for one thing, and genuine.)
Peyton
Nov 16, 2015 Peyton rated it really liked it
A very interesting book!!
Shelly
Apr 29, 2016 Shelly rated it it was amazing
So very good.
Celebrilomiel
Feb 12, 2012 Celebrilomiel marked it as to-read
Shelves: favorite-authors
I picked this up from my parents' bookshelf when I was about twelve. I had read Narnia, I had read The Screwtape Letters, and I desired more Lewis. I thoroughly enjoyed what I read of it, but was only about a third of the way through when library day rolled around and I turned my attention to and subsequently devoured an armful of fiction with due dates stamped on their back covers. I have yet to return to Letters.
Kara
Feb 17, 2015 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely book. It is somewhat less instructional than most of his books because it's more "slice of life." Lewis and this American lady are just writing to each other about struggles, jobs, health, finances, and faith. But it's just so pleasant to read! Some might find it mundane, but I always love C.S. Lewis's tone in his correspondence. I'm in love with him.
Allenh
Mar 17, 2013 Allenh rated it it was amazing
One of the things I love about this book, is that it isn't contrived out of Lewis' head. Most of his other "letters" are actually literal tools he uses to expound on his ideas. In this case, we see Lewis responding to a woman's inquiries on life and God. Definitely not my most favored book by Lewis, (Is Theology Poetry) but still a good insight into Lewis.
Sarah
Jan 21, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing
It just seems like they were more witty, endearing, loving, and personal in those days. Really encouraging both as a friend and fellow Christian...

my favorite quote: "Verily "He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it, hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart" (or his glands)."
Trish
Nov 04, 2010 Trish rated it it was amazing
I wish I would have had such a fatherly friend as Lewis was in writing these letters of council and encouragement. "the great thing with unhappy times is to take them bit by bit, hour by hour, like an illness. It is seldom the present, the exact present, that is unbearable."
Brent Pinkall
These letters do not contain much by way of deep and provocative insights. I did come away with a better sense of the humanity of Lewis. His candidness is refreshing. That said, I'm not sure I took much more away than that.
Susan
Aug 09, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, real-life, learning
Apart from showing insights into CS Lewis and his discipleship-by-letter of the American lady, the made me reconsider my own letter-writing track record, and what is communicated in my replies to people.
Caroline Fontenot
Sep 12, 2013 Caroline Fontenot rated it liked it
Favorite quote -- "We love everything in ONE way too much (i.e. at the expense of our love for Him) but in another way, we love everything too little."
Brandon Telg
Jun 29, 2009 Brandon Telg rated it really liked it
Interesting look at Lewis' opinions on a variety of subjects that he doesn't tend to cover in his other books.
Christina
Aug 26, 2010 Christina rated it liked it
Most of the book is enjoyable yet unremarkable, but there are quite a few real gems of wisdom interspersed.
Elizabeth
Jan 28, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Several key phrases, quotes from this book are worth remembering. I learned and grew from this book.
Shelbud
Jun 02, 2013 Shelbud rated it it was amazing
Filled with Lewis's insights to the practical Christian life. Will be reading this one again and again.
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CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954. He was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than th ...more
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