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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  235 ratings  ·  44 reviews
William Nicholsons Tony nominated stage adaptation of his award-winning BBC Teleplay relates the story of shy Oxford don and childrens author C.S. Lewis and American poet Joy Gresham. SHADOWLANDS shows how love, and the risk of loss, transformed this great mans relationships, even with God.

A L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Arthur Hanket, Harriet Harri

Paperback, 112 pages
Published November 28th 1991 by Plume (first published 1989)
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Becca brown
I found this book a quiet interesting. I loved the theme—this life is only a shadow of the next; only a shadow of the world to come. It ended a little sad, but the story line was sweet. It kinda reminded me of the book/movie “love comes softly”, though it was a lot different.
I thought it was interesting to discover some things about C. S. Lewis. I’ve always been interested in learning more about his life so I greatly enjoyed reading about him in particular. I liked seeing how he ‘slipped into l...more
This is the play of the movie which starred Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. C.S. Lewis is happy living his single life, lecturing at Oxford about the purpose of pain in life (even though his own personal experience of pain was the loss of his mother at the age of eight). He meets and falls in love with a married American woman, Joy Gresham, who is a fan of his, who has been writing him letters after the release of his Narnia novels. The movie is absolutely beautiful and so I read the play. I r...more
FRom BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:
Adaptation by Archie Scottney of the play by William Nicholson. The moving true story of the 1950s relationship between Oxford don and author CS Lewis and divorced American writer Joy Gresham.
I liked this play a lot. It was really interesting as well as entertaining. Mostly because I liked all of the characters, especially Joy. I like that she wasn't afraid of dying and that she didn't flip out. I really admire Lewis' faith and how strong he stayed throughout. Any lesser man couldn't of kept his belief in God in check after something like that.

I loved the relationship that Joy and Lewis had. It's sad that it took her to be on her death bed for him to realize and admit that he loved...more
Rachel Rueckert
Reading this play was a much different experience than the rest of the works we have read thus far. It is the only book on our list that is not actually written by C.S. Lewis, and in that sense it was kind of refreshing to have an outsider's opinion and interpretation of Lewis' life.

The first question that I asked myself while reading this drama was how accurate it really is. In our class discussion we addressed this concern. It is, overall, a fictional work, but there are some factual elements...more
Tori Buchheim
I rather enjoyed this play. I thought it was easier to read than some of the other books and pieces. I found reading a play instead of a regular story to be a nice change as well.

Its hard to explain exactly why I liked this play, I just did. I guess I liked the interactions between Joy and Lewis, I liked how when they talked it was sort of a language of their own. It was like they automatically understood eachother. Joy was able to finish Lewis's explanations for him, showing they were meant to...more
Rebecca Clausing
I really liked this play. It was easy to understand and yet it still had depth and meaning. Sometimes it feels like we can’t read anything in school unless it is difficult to understand and has strong moral lessons that you can’t find without reading really far into the text. I really liked that I didn’t have to read into the text to get some of the themes, they were right there in your face. The themes were even good. They made me think more about what my understandings are. I think that’s impr...more
Caleb Burton
My excitement about reading a play focusing on the life of C.S. Lewis was quickly curbed when I realized that the story had hardly anything to do with the man himself. The plot was bland and, in my opinion, not very believable. I am surprised to see how many people (including my parents and friends) disagree with me, but that doesn't change the fact that this is one of my least favorite books of all time. I hesitate to use such superlative language, but I would be lying if I said anything milder...more
As the rating says, I thought the play was only ok. The thing I'm having trouble with is really defining why I didn't enjoy it all that much. I didn't think the characters were terrible, and I actually like the fact that the ending isn't very happy (wow that makes me sound like a terrible person). I just mean that the way the book ended provided much more room for thought and discussion than it would have if it ended perfectly. And I don't mind that there is no "action," so to speak. I don't min...more
Jeff Grogan
I enjoyed this play, though to do so, one must be able to put aside any background knowledge of the main character, Jack Lewis, as Nicholson's information and portrayal of that character is flawed. Aside from this, and from now on treating Lewis as an original character created by Nicholson, the play was well-written and gripping.
I find much appeal to a sense of higher intelligence throughout this play, in both the sparse use of comedic allusions that only intellectuals would properly understand...more
I first learned about Shadowlands in college when I had to perform a scene for a graduate student's project. But when I read the story fully I was fascinated. This play is very intellectual, yet very emotional at the same time.

The play follows C.S. Lewis as he meets Joy Gresham and their subsequent love and loss. Tragedies have always been my preference theatrically. It's much easier to make an audience laugh than it is to make them cry. The character's of Jack (C.S.) and Joy are the most exami...more
Allison Joy
Though this play was on the verge of being depressing, I enjoyed it. William Nicholson incorporated some of C.S. Lewis' biggest philosophies in this play. This would include his thoughts about suffering and pain being God's megaphone to a deaf world. Lewis uses this idea in a lot of his works.

Aside from that I thought that the story presented was a cute little love story. It was sort of weird how Joy just kind of walked into his life and then just wouldn't leave but love is love I guess. What m...more
This audio recording of the play was fabulous -- I loved listening to every moment, even the painful, sad portions. Well paced, with just enough humor to find the light even in the darkness, and the ways that we love so many people, despite the cost. I know that Nicholson took artistic license with the facts but it was still a powerful story of love and faith. I hope I am able to witness on the stage some day.
Matt Hartman
Like many guys I am not much into love stories like the play Shadowlands. But this play did have it's positives. While most of the stuff that we have read in AP English class this year has had a deeper meaning that we had to find, this story is pretty strait forward and easy to understand for a sub-par reader like myself. It also gave me some insight into the life of one of the few authors that I have heard of and somewhat like. One of the downsides of the boring play was that it was just flat o...more
Sawyer Dillon
To best describe Shadowlands, it can be called a lukewarm romantic play. I will fully admit that I have read possibly too many romance stories, even some really crappy ones. Even when they were rather cold, they weren’t this dull. So in regards as romantic and even slightly capturing, this play can bugger off. Besides the fact that the centered idea failed, all the other characters seemed just a little meh.
But besides the whole romantic failure, unlovable cast, and death-by-dull stuff, it had...more
Danielle Wurzelbacher
I really enjoyed this play. I liked the story as well as the themes that were expressed throughtout it, and I think that Nicholson did a really good job at portraying the characters with their specific mannerisms and quirks. Usually in plays, I tend to just read the dialogue and not who's talking, so I get confused sometimes about who is talking, but with Shadowlands, I didn't get confused at all because each character was themself, and specifically so.
I also liked how it had a perfect balance o...more
Bret Marshall
I like this book a lot. it was simple and and easy to understand. C.S. Lewis's soliloquies at the beginning of each act were also very insightful and thought provoking. The characters themselves were also interesting. i enjoyed picturing C.S. lewis's friends and bother who seem to have never even talked to a women in their life. I liked being able to put my self into the life that those kind of men were living back then.
It is sort of a romantic thought, thinking about being an "Oxford" man back...more
Mar 19, 2013 Jenny added it
"Shadowlands" was an alright play. By alright, I mean I thought it was pretty boring. It just seemed so bland to me. There wasn't enough action. Lewis and Joy fell in love in literally one page, and Lewis seemed so wishy washy in his faith that I didnt really get any sort of message out of the play as a whole. When Joy's incident happened, it was just so unpredicted and random. I can't even imagine what the film of this play would be like... I'd probably fall asleep.

I think that I would have enj...more
Rachel Green
I thought that this book was alright, I didn't hate it but I didn't love it. I don't like romantic movies or books that are love stories so I wasn't too excited to read it in the beginning. I think it would have been a lot more interesting it had been written by C.S. Lewis. I thought the writer's style was kind of boring, it didn't grab my attention. Nothing that exciting really happened for me.

I was glad though that Jack finally admitted his feelings for Joy. Even though I feel it was only real...more
The Anthony Hopkins/Debra Winger movie based on this play is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I've always been meaning to read the play it was based on. Fortunately, it didn't let me down.

The story is about C.S. Lewis (the writer of Narnia books, as well as one of the most important Catholic writers of the 20th century) and his friend Joy, a Jewish, divorced, American atheist, who as time passes turns out to be more than just a friend. The play, follows much the same path as the movie, th...more
Brianna Blum
I loved this play. The story was great, but everything happened so quickly that it didn't feel like there was much of a plot. The whole play was spent building up to one moment which happened in a matter of pages then the play was over. It would've been nice to read more about Jack and Joy's relationship.
I really enjoyed the themes of this play because they aren't necessarily depressing like some are. The idea that there can't be love without pain may sound rather melancholy, but in the contex...more
Hanna Cobbs
I think i really enjoyed this book. I'm hesitant in saying that because i didn't really like the ending and endings are important to me. i didn't like how Jack was so negative and lost all hope after Joy died. He never looked back and was thankful for the time he spent with her. or grateful that she got to leave the pain behind even if it meant leaving him behind too.
However i did like the love story and how Joy's cancer allowed Jack to see the love he really had for her. If she wasn't dying t...more
Troy Bailey
This book was not really what I expected when I thought of a book about C.S. Lewis. It's hard to explain why I didn't like it, but something about it was just kind of bad. The characters were alright, and I liked how it didn't have a perfect ending, just because its a good change of pace from books that end with everything being alright and happy.

If you know anything about Lewis, you may have disliked this book even more. I think although there wasn't really action, that doesn't hurt it. The st...more
I fancied this play a lot more than others that I have read. I somewhat got into the story line and the whole love story that is presented. I thought it was very sad how the play ended up though. I wish Joy and Lewis could have gotten the chance to spend more time with one another. The bone cancer that takes Joys life shows that with pain comes suffering, and there is no avoiding it.

Overall I liked this book and gave it 3 stars. I'm not really into the whole romance and love theme but it was en...more
Bobbie Winters
I really enjoyed this play, it was a great quickread and straight to the point. It was great to take a break from all the chapter books I normally read, and read a play. I liked how William Nicholson set up thre storyline.

Jack and Joy slowly fell in love, but they were doomed from the beginning of their relationship. I liked how they choose to still be with eachother even though they didnt know how much time they had left with eachother. No matter what Jack's friends were saying he still kept t...more
Raqchell Gast
Over all, I really enjoyed this play. It's nice to take a break from reading books and read a play every once in a while. I also grew up listening to The Chronicles of Naria on tape, so it was interesting to see a dipiction of Lewis's life.

The play had plenty of depth itself without much dependence on symbolism which was nice. Hearing well thought dialogue is better than just throwing in symbols, in my opinion at least. I also liked the love story part of it all, of course. Bitter sweet stories...more
My wife and I read this aloud over the course of a couple of evenings. Nicholson's play about C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham's midlife romance is superb, an introduction to great moral questions, a moving tragedy, and a play that you can't read without wanting to know more about Lewis and Gresham.

I wrote this up more thoroughly at http://bookgroupbuzz.booklistonline.c... and won't repeat myself by re-writing that review here.
Jennifer Steinhoff
I love this play. I remember sitting in the theatre while watching it, sobbing my heart out. I love all the characters (even Christopher, who can be so Christopherish) and they all work so well together. I love how Jack falls in love with Joy; so easy and natural. I love how she understands him and helps him accept the fact that with their love comes pain and sorrow -- that's the deal. So good. Read it -- or better yet, see it.
The problem with really short books... it's hard to give them four stars. This book was so, so, so great, but I didn't love it... I didn't have time to love it.

Please check my blog for more on this book:
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story , both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March . In 1...more
More about William Nicholson...
The Wind Singer (Wind on Fire, #1) Slaves of the Mastery (Wind on Fire, #2) Firesong (Wind On Fire, #3) Seeker (Noble Warriors Trilogy, #1) The Wind on Fire Trilogy: The Wind Singer/Slaves of the Mastery/Firesong

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