A hard-to-categorize book; what do you call quasi-historical allegorical theist semi-fantastical adult fiction? This is C.S. Lewis's inimitable retellA hard-to-categorize book; what do you call quasi-historical allegorical theist semi-fantastical adult fiction? This is C.S. Lewis's inimitable retelling of the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche - where a beautiful bride is married to a mysterious husband who forbids her ever to see his face. Half way through this, I realized I'd already read it, so many years ago I'd forgotten I had. Some of the same passages still resonated with me, but this time around, something that stuck out for me was how spare and fairy-tale-like the narrative style is; it really does read far more like some medieval or ancient allegory than a modern novel. Also, having done quite a bit of thinking about religion (and ultimately rejected religion) since I read it, the theist message hit me over the head like a two-by-four. It comes most intensely during the scenes where Psyche's sister Orual - the protagonist of the narrative - visits her for the first time after she's been left for the god of the mountain to devour, and the point seems to be: all the mystery surrounding God has important purposes, even if we don't know what they are; and: religious experience can never be understood from the outside (which I can still very much recognize as an important truth, even being on the outside now myself). Something that impressed me in Lewis's approach is that when Orual mourns that her choice not to believe felt inevitable, something she had no real choice in, Lewis seems to acknowledge that some of us can't simply choose to believe what seems untrue and fantastical, and that if we're ultimately punished for it by "the gods," the punishment isn't particular just. (Though in the end, his gods turn out to be merciful even to Orual the unbeliever.)...more
The author does a nice job of keeping up the magical, fairy-tale-like atmosphere throughout, making this a good book to read if you are looking to beThe author does a nice job of keeping up the magical, fairy-tale-like atmosphere throughout, making this a good book to read if you are looking to be transported and escape to a prettier, more mystical world outside of gritty history and reality. Some of the "twists" on the "classic tale" are also clever, and in many passages the writing was engaging and deftly woven. Granted, every now and then there'd come a spot where I felt the voice slipped into something too modern or out-of-place, or something in the diction didn't work so well, but on the whole, the writing was definitely better than I've met with in a lot of fantasy writing, and comparable with other upscale, aiming-to-be-literary, book-club-selection type books.
I think this could be a good book for Christian readers, because without being overt or preachy, there are a number of references to Christian-sounding ideas about the soul, God, heaven, and salvation. (Enough to make me think the author was coming from a Christian standpoint, yet not so much that an I as an unbeliever/humanist reader felt overly excluded by it.) My more conservative (e.g. LDS/Mormon) reader friends might like to know in advance that there is some out-of-wedlock sex in the book, but not too graphic as these things go (no tumescent manhoods or anything like that!).
I definitely think the story will tend to appeal more to female readers. From a feminist standpoint, well, there are some nice female friendships and bonding, and some attempt to show strongish female characters, but there was also more chick-lit-style boy-craziness than I expected. The romances are not super nuanced or profound, and the male characters are all pretty two-dimensional.
Still, on the whole, a nice, light, quick read, and some interesting, smart variations on the ever-popular mermaid theme....more
After Halloween, my four-year-old was saying she wanted to read some "scary" books. So we went to our favorite local indie bookstore, which has a fantAfter Halloween, my four-year-old was saying she wanted to read some "scary" books. So we went to our favorite local indie bookstore, which has a fantastic kids books selection, and this was one they recommended. My daughter was utterly fascinated with it from the second she saw it, and even though it's a bit too long to completely hold her attention all the way through, it became one of the books she wanted me to read her over and over again. The funny thing is, she doesn't seem to find it particularly scary, even though I think the pictures are kind of frightening myself....more