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Jack's Life: The Life Story Of C.S. Lewis

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  430 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Douglas Gresham claims that Jack Lewis was the finest man and the best Christian he has ever known. Of course, Jack to Douglas is C. S. Lewis to the rest of the world. The informal address Gresham uses to refer to the great writer is indicative of the intimacy he shared with Lewis for a dozen years, living in England as Lewis's stepson. Jack's Life is an affectionate accou ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by B Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Dec 21, 2008 rated it liked it
Douglas Gresham is C.S. Lewis's stepson, and his biography of Lewis is nothing short of glowing. It provides some good insight into Lewis's formative experiences, particularly his service in World War I. What it doesn't do is describe much about the author's relationship with the subject, which surprised me.
Gresham is almost hopelessly partisan in favor of Lewis, which is understandable but a bit distracting. It also makes it harder to trust his authority in telling the story (no one is as perfe
Trish Hermanson
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This biography by the stepson of C.S. Lewis peels away the illusion of the easy life of the academic, revealing a life of poverty, poor health, and responsibilities. What is compelling is C.S. Lewis's response to these challenges.
RE de Leon
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lewisiana, biography
Biographies written by people close to the subject of their book tend to have their ups and downs. On the upside, such authors tend to have unique insights into their subjects, and if the writer is a good one, this usually makes for an excellent read. On the downside, it's possible for the author's perspective to influence the book such that it gives us a lopsided view of the person being described.

Gresham's very objective biographies of CS Lewis tend to avoid the pitfalls, and are indeed insigh
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many of the negative reviews point out the obvious flaws-- the language can seem simplistic, and the observations are not those of a true 'biographer'. I would assert, however, that these flaws are also what make the book convincing and memorable. This is not a scholarly work and I wouldn't use it as research for a paper but it is a lovely biography of a man written by a child who loved him.

The book draws a rich portrait of Lewis's early life which I found fascinating and I often wondered where
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
A delightful read that has proven to be a good time-traveling machine this week, as well. I find myself looking for this book whenever I have a quiet moment to spare. Gresham's style is simplistic, but gives sufficient explanation for you to form your own visual of C.S. Lewis as a young boy at school, then a scholar living at The Kilns, and on into the rest of his life. Gresham even tells a bit about his most famous works and the C.S. Lewis that we are most familiar with.

This is a book I recomme
Andrew Neveils
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
It seemed as though Douglas was writing for children. His diction and syntax were very basic, elementary, if you will. This is certainly a subjective work, as everything Lewis does is either magnificent and from God, or a simple fluke that wasn't his fault.

He repeats himself often, which throws the chronolgical sequences out of sequence a bit. Often repeating himself, Gresham would reiterate Mrs. Moore's overbearing need for attention. Gresham repeated himself, sometimes too frequently, and it c
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loved this biography on Jack's namesake! Best quote: "I am sometimes asked what it is like living in the shadow of such a great man, and I always point out that Jack did not leave a shadow behind him but a glow. If I am able to reflect even the slightest spark of that glow, I am more than happy to do so."

Praying we glow rather than leave a shadow!
Marcia Meerwarth
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Happy to have read this book. Learned much from it about living this life and loving others. Always great to read about a Christian who is a deep thinker and practical about the servanthood of those who follow Christ and His Word.
David Mosley
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Read in the following year(s):
2012 (5-17 September)
John Sheehan
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have loved reading many of C.S. Lewis' works. But I never got to know much about this amazing author of whom I so admire. This lovely work unfolds the character of a man giving life behind the words written in ink revealing intimate moments of his life, his victories and defeats, his tears and laughter of a man who has touched millions. What an enjoyable walk through the life and stories of C.S. Lewis's early life all the way to his death, giving me deep insight into a man and his God.

A worthy
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book.

Jack's Life is truly an inside look at the life and times of famous author, C. S. Lewis from a perspective nobody else could give you but his own step-son, Douglas. First glance at the book and it's elegant cover tells you immediately that not only was there a lot of thought and care put into the making of this book, but no scrimping on presenting the reader with a wonderful personal view of Lewis' life was ever even an option. An exquisite hard cover book with a detai
Dec 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Not as good as Gresham's autobiography Lenten Lands, which has much more about Gresham's relationship with C. S. Lewis, his stepfather. In this work, Jack is the hero and Mrs. Moore the villain, but Gresham tries to be understanding of the villain. Mrs. Moore is Jack's adopted mother who he cares for because of a promise he made to her son Paddy during WWI. Warnie, Jack's brother, plays the main supporting role and Gresham and his mother Joy Davidman are a part of the latter years of joy, pain, ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
As a big C.S. Lewis fan, I enjoyed reading this affectionate account of Jack's life told by his stepson, Douglas Gresham. It's a glowing account that tells the facts of Jack's life without much analysis or criticism. One thing I found surprising is how little there is in the book about Douglas's relationship with Jack. One would think that would be one of the book's highlights. I also was surprised to learn how stressful Jack's life was at many points, especially how he endured living with the o ...more
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Written by the stepson of C.S. Lewis, I expected a more emotional, or at least name-dropping, type of biographical rendering. It was, however, almost entirely factual, with the occasional interpretation through Gresham's lens, and centered around Lewis's personal life.

The book is not written entirely chronologically, and skips back and forth a couple times between major periods of his life. This wouldn't bother me, but as it did so, there seemed to be some redundancy. A couple times I wanted to
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio
Included in the Introduction is Lewis' quote about writing: "First be sure that you know exactly what you want to say. Then be sure you have said exactly that." Then, Gresham states his thesis for the book: "merely the simple recounting of the story of what I believe to be the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man... (showing) how the power of the Holy Spirit of God flows through our lives and if we allow it to, makes us far more than we could ever be by ourselves."
In telling the story, Gr
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Wow! What an inspirational read! I have loved the Chronicles of Narnia ever since I was little, yet I never realized how little I knew of the author himself.

This short biography was written by C.S. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham. Though I picked up this book for a school research paper on the Inklings, I simply had to read this one from cover to cover both for school as well as a "fun" read. I remember Gresham speaking in the Focus on the Family audio versions of Narnia for both the prologue
Carsten Thomsen
Jul 21, 2012 rated it liked it
C. S. Lewis' stepson have written a very warm and friendly portrait of the Christian writer and professor - best known for the Narnia-stories.

This is not a book that explores the writer C. S. Lewis and his many books. It's more about the daily life of Lewis, his brother, Mrs. Moore and life at "The Kilns" where he stayed most of his life, the meetings with The Inklings, and then his relationship/marriage late in life with Joy Gresham.

It's written in a very laid-back, talkative tone - like a gr
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've had this book on my shelf for ages and never read it through.
A four because Lewis' son Douglas Gresham wrote it. Therein is an honest telling of the pain and trouble C. S. Lewis faced in his life: losing his mother, troubles with his father after her death, bad and even harmful schools, war, sickness, Mrs. Moore, poverty, and not being given his rightful chairs at university, the love of his life, Joy, dying of cancer. All to illustrate in bas relief the incredible personal and public achie
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Being as this is the first book I have read telling the story of C.S. Lewis, I really like it. I think if I had read another Biography of him first that I may not have liked this one as much. The style of the book sometimes struck me as having been written all in one day. It felt like a "free-write", and there were several bizarre errors (A HUGE pet peeve of mine).
But the story of Jack, AKA C.S. Lewis, was very intriguing, and I came away with the perception that he was an incredible man. He was
Jun 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Coming from someone who embraces all things C.S. Lewis, I have to say this book was an utter flop. Let me say first that I did find a few morsels of little known fact about Lewis, like his and Joy's obsession with a modified version of Scrabble that included playing with two sets of letters and extending vocabulary to any word in any language. On the other hand, Gresham's writing was poor and grammar/spelling/punctuation errors abounded. It felt like I was reading a piece of work from one of my ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
This book is definitely not an in depth biography. It's a light and affectionate biography -- with more than a hint of family bias. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as one recognizes it.

I do think the book could have been better edited. Gresham should have taken a tip from Lewis and had literary people critisize his book. He repeats phrases and thoughts a few times. He wanders in and out of chronological order.

This might be a good book for a teenager interested in C.S.Lewis. Very eas
Jo Franz
Aug 06, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Douglas Gresham's information about C.S. Lewis' early and mid years, since I haven't read most of it anywhere else and I have definitely learned and sincerely appreciated Lewis' works through the years. I got down to within the last 25 pages of the book before I finally read of Lewis' letter writing with Joy (as she was called) Gresham! Douglas' biography of his mother and Lewis' meeting, their love, marriage and her ultimate death from cancer and its devastating effect on C.S. Lewis w ...more
Oct 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: C.S. Lewis fans
It was nice to read a bio from Douglas Gresham and to hear his telling of things. This bio shed light on Lewis's early years and relationship with his father, as well as his time in the war, which I didn't know much about. I also hadn't realized how much he had moved around with Mrs. Moore and her daughter while he was in college. The one critique I have is that Gresham would always put a longish summary of each chapter at the end of each chapter, which seemed unncessary. FOr instance, in one ch ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those interested in C.S. Lewis
Shelves: inspirational
This was a nice, personal biography of C.S. Lewis by his stepson. It had more details than I wanted, such as a history of the house Jack lived in, but overall it was good and I feel like I have a good idea of the sort of man Lewis was. It was interesting to read about how mundane his adult life was - I always imagined him as wealthy and well-known, since his works are so popular. But he lived rather simply. He was a great man, despite the sufferings he endured (like at boarding school or in the ...more
Luke Miller
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This book is a memoir of the author's 12-year relationship with Lewis as his stepson. The writing style is very informal with a lot of repetition, so the reading often felt like plodding. I definitely learned some new things about Lewis' life, but I couldn't escape the feeling that all of them were a little too clean and polished. I understand it's difficult to be unbiased when writing about someone you greatly admire, but I think an attempt is still a worthy goal. There are much better books on ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Read this in conjunction with watching the movie "Shadowlands." Gresham took some exception to the film, and he was right to do so. How can it claim to be a true story when Gresham's older brother David was completely removed from the picture? David didn't embrace their stepfather and his Christian beliefs as Douglas did, so he had no part in the romanticized dramatization. Douglas clearly idolized C.S. Lewis, and his book has a rosy tint of its own. Just like the pronunciation of the the two co ...more
Blake Chenoweth
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Doug Gresham has a very unique perspective on the life of C.S. Lewis, or Jack as he preferred to be called, in that he was his step-son. Doug first met the man that wrote the Chronicles of Narnia when he was a little boy. In this book he gives some of the "behind the scenes" pictures of the man, although I would admit I wish there were more conversations that he had with Jack. A wonderful book on a wonderful life.

This is a great biography on C.S. Lewis from a guy who really knew the man. I recom
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Full of typos, I'm afraid to say... Otherwise, a very enjoyable account of one man's experiences, perceptions, and general knowledge of C.S. Lewis. Written by Lewis' stepson, the book has a personal touch that other biographers would understandably lack. Not the most well-written biography out there, nor the most exhaustive Lewis resource, but it gives a fantastic new perspective on many aspects of his life. The typos don't keep the point from getting across - I definitely recommend it for all C ...more
Dec 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting. I've never read a biography written in a format like this. Often it was as if the author were using C.S. Lewis's life and experiences to forward the authors own beliefs and agenda - as good and noble as they are. It was mildly distracting.

A DVD is included with this book which is a short interview with the author. After watching it, the style and focal points of the book are more understandable, not in substance but in style.

I plan to read George Sayer's biography to get a better lo
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book on C. S. Lewis's life. It was a very easy read, yet contained a lot of information about his life from his stepson's perspective.

I thought being a man with such high morals he had a very difficult life being a care giver to so many people. Specifically his friend Arthur's mother Mrs. Moore and to a lesser extent her daughter Maureen. So sad how long he cared for Mrs. Moore who by Douglas's account was a very demanding and difficult person.

This book came with a DVD on a
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  • C.S. Lewis: A Biography
  • From the Library of C. S. Lewis: Selections from Writers Who Influenced His Spiritual Journey (Writers' Palette Book)
Gresham was the son of writers William Lindsay Gresham and Joy Davidman. After his parents' divorce in 1954, he relocated to England with his mother and elder brother. Joy later married author C.S. Lewis, whom adopted Joy's two sons.
More about Douglas Gresham