K.D. Absolutely's Reviews > Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
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Oct 17, 11

bookshelves: mythology, retelling
Recommended to K.D. by: Tina Matanguihan
Read from September 28 to October 17, 2011, read count: 1

Psychologists have long known that every person has two great longings and inward needs. The first is to be loved, and the second is to love. But when pressures and heartaches come into our lives, many give up any hope of ever finding love.

For me, the above statements summarize the message that C. S. Lewis wanted to impart in his most mature and his-favorite-among-all-of-his-works novel, Till We Have Faces. Ugly Orual loves her beautiful youngest sister Psyche that she acts as her mother and a protector. Famine comes into their kingdom and the priest says that to appease the goddess Ungit (Aphrodite), Psyche should be sacrificed to the goddess’ son Brute (Cupid). However, the son falls in love with Psyche. Orual goes to the mountain to bury Psyche’s bone but she finds that Psyche is alive and Psyche shows Orual her invisible (to Orual’s eyes) house. Orual believes that Psyche has married a serpent so she asks Psyche to see the face of the Brute while he is sleeping. This despises the Brute so he sends Psyche to exile. Missing her sister, Orual transforms into a warrior and becomes more of a man than a woman and she eventually becomes the Queen of Glome, their kingdom.

This is a story of contrasts: beauty and ugly, loyalty and deception, loving and hating. This is a story of transformation, realization and redemption. On the surface, this is a story of jealousy among two siblings. However, when the ugly Orual is about to expire in the end, she realizes that the true reason behind her deception and that she indeed still loves her sister – the beautiful Psyche. Orual did not feel that she was loved by her father because of her ugliness but she was able to love Psyche from the time she was born. Orual acted as Psyche's protector because she loved her sister until Psyche was sent to the mountain to appease Aphrodite’s wrath. Orual transformed to become a warrior and eventually a queen whose face was covered to hide her true feelings. She gave up on love. Some say that, unlike the other more popular works of C. S. Lewis, this book does not have any Christian theme but for me, the veil covering Orual’s face signifies sin: jealousy, pride and deception. The Bible says that until we first recognize ourselves as sinners, we will not be able to accept Jesus as our personal savior. The realization that Orual experienced in the end was not too late for her to know that she did what she did because of her love for Psyche. Before she died, she got love back.

My friend is right. The better part of this book is at the last few pages. The dream-like sequence of Orual being with the dead is like standing before God at the day of one’s death. It is full of philosophical thoughts and beautiful Christian metaphors that have been the trademarks of C. S. Lewis's works. I had earlier read 4 of his other books (first three books of Narnia and A Grief Observed) and for me this is the best. I am not a big fan of fantasy books and for most of the middle parts, this book bored me. However, when I came to the last part, my mind was just blown away and it left me teary-eyed this morning.

One of the best books I have read this year. It gave me a strong feeling that this might really be the best work of C. S. Lewis.

Tina - thanks for recommending this book to me. Your taste on books is really impeccable!
Atty. Monique - thanks for lending me this book. You who have the most generous heart!

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Reading Progress

09/29/2011 page 117
36.0% "Retelling of the myth, The Love Story of Psyche and Cupid. The start seems boring but now it is getting better."
10/01/2011 page 127
39.0% "C. S. Lewis prose is just eternal. He may be retelling a myth but his words are just pure and with crystal-like beauty in it."
10/06/2011 page 210
65.0% "I am reading this simultaneous with McDermott and Drakulic books and whenever I pick this up, I become instantly sleepy!"

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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message 1: by Monique (new) - added it

Monique You're most welcome. :)


Tina You're welcome, too :)


message 3: by Mark (new)

Mark great review. I love the conversation Orual has with the fox when she asks if the Gods are just and he says no. ' What hope is there for me then' says Orual....' What hope would there be if they were ' the fox answers. Now come on, how much more Christlike can you get


Judy This is a very perceptive and moving review, KD. Til We Have Faces is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read it many times and it speaks to me in a different way each time, due to my increased experience of life. But I also love reading about how the book speaks to other readers.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Mark. Yes, I remember that scene in the second part. Aside from the great opening, almost all the great scenes are in the second part.

Judy: Really? Then I have to get me my own copy of this book. I just borrowed this. Thanks!


message 6: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Lovely review, K.D.


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Nancy!


message 8: by mark (new)

mark monday this is a beautiful book. nice review!


K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Mark.


Bunnie St Just I like your interpretation of how Orual's veiling herself and turning into warrior-like signifies her giving up on love


message 11: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Thanks, Bunnie.


message 12: by Kristin (new)

Kristin The chief reason I turn to good reads is for text analysis, not a lengthy plot summary.


message 13: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Kristin wrote: "The chief reason I turn to good reads is for text analysis, not a lengthy plot summary."

If you don't like this review, then look elsewhere.


message 14: by Kristin (new)

Kristin You are warranted to your opinion I did not mean to offend. Different people explore this sight for a myriad of reasons: my apologies.


message 15: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Nancy wrote: "Kristin wrote: "The chief reason I turn to good reads is for text analysis, not a lengthy plot summary."

If you don't like this review, then look elsewhere."


Thank you, Nancy. :)


message 16: by Nancy (new)

Nancy I wish people would just move on if they see something they don't agree with, don't like, or don't find useful.

Haven't seen you around in a while, K.D. I hope everything is OK with you. :)


message 17: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Nancy wrote: "I wish people would just move on if they see something they don't agree with, don't like, or don't find useful.

Haven't seen you around in a while, K.D. I hope everything is OK with you. :)"


I'm good, Nancy. Thanks. Just been busy with work so it is only during weekends that I can write my GR reviews.


message 18: by Joan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joan Thanks for your review It makes reading it more enjoyable.


message 19: by K.D. (new) - rated it 3 stars

K.D. Absolutely Joan wrote: "Thanks for your review It makes reading it more enjoyable."

It is enjoyable even without my review. One of the better books by C. S. Lewis.


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