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Letters to an American Lady

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  678 ratings  ·  55 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
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 19th 1967 by Eerdmans (first published November 30th 1966)
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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  678 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Douglas Wilson
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Quite good. Read it again in January 2018, and it remains quite good.
Jul 07, 2013 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
Justin Wiggins
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tonight I finished reading Letters To An American Lady by C.S.Lewis, which I got for free at work a few weeks ago. I have never actually read this one by Lewis before. It was a moving correspondence between Lewis and this American lady about anything from cats, food, pain, death, health, prayer, finances, the weather, faith, books, theology, daily experience, the resurrection of the body, loss, and love. The few letters in this volume written by Warnie Lewis, Joy Davidman, and Walter Hooper, wer ...more
Apr 13, 2009 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
Megan Larson
Sep 05, 2009 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
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: c-s-lewis
This collection of letters is proof that C.S. Lewis is a more patient and pious Christian than I. Had I been the correspondent with this American lady, I would surely have left off after fewer than half a dozen and ignored any further attempt on her part. Had I been titling this collection, it might have been "Letters to a Pietistic, Pessimistic Hypochondriac." Fortunately for my spiritual well-being, I neither had the privilege of being this lady's correspondent nor of titling the book, which m ...more
Feb 25, 2014 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
Jan 28, 2013 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.
Ciara Anderson
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely insights into the power of a simple friendship. Nice to get a glimpse of the very ordinary aspects of Lewis.
Drew Fajen
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This record of correspondence between Jack and Mary showed Lewis' casual wisdom and wit. Even in the everyday letter writing of good ole Clive, his writing convicts, teaches, and challenges. I loved so much of this book. This book deals with challenges like death, illness, family drama, politics, and faith in Jesus. It's really fun to read one side of the letters and try to figure out what Mary wrote to lead to Jack's response.

Here are my favorite parts of the book:

"The change from, say, thirty
Stephanie C
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: C.S. Lewis fans, people looking for perspective on dealing with illness
I was surprised by how fast I whipped through this book. My second time reading it, but it's been a long time since the first read and I couldn't remember much.

While some of the material becomes repetitive (his sympathizing with her health troubles and his reminding her that writing is the bane of his existence!) I still found so much of value in this collection. C.S. Lewis was so encouraging to Mary (the American Lady) and good at reminding her of truths that they both believe while avoiding be
Shawn Paterson
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So mundane they’re fascinating. Felt a twinge of grief when the letters abruptly ended.

Lewis’ Siamese cat liked it when he picked it up by its tail.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
My first non-fiction by Lewis. An interesting read. Only getting half of the conversation makes for a unique reading experience. A very interesting smattering of religious thought and ideas throughout Lewis' letters. I look forward to reading more of Lewis' nonfiction.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Much that's great, but boy, if that isn't one of the saddest endings I've ever read. The abruptness of the final letter makes it so much worse.
Aug 21, 2009 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
G.M. Burrow
Devoured this little gem with an unflagging appetite. As it turns out, Lewis's letters are almost as tidy as his books, and his books almost as personal as his letters. The upshot is that Letters (many of which might as well have been addressed straight to me) turned "C. S. Lewis" into "Jack" and now I can hardly stand to read A Grief Observed, next on my list. I read it years ago, but now it peels open the broken heart of a great writer who feels like a great friend. That's the primary magic of ...more
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
Feb 08, 2014 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
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I knew Lewis was a good, Godly man. But I'd never realized how generous, both in time and money, he was with people from just about anywhere. He didn't let on, but it was a great effort for him to keep up correspondence; yet he did so with an unnamed American woman, even while suffering the loss of his dear wife and declining health. His letters are both long and quite short, but in each one, he is sure to send the recipient a nugget of Truth or encouragement. When I finished reading the very pe ...more
Courtney Stevens
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: personal-library
C.S. Lewis had an American pen pal, a woman named Mary. This little book is a collection of his responses to her letters. Some are witty and clever, others are short and sweet, one or two almost turned into sermons, but all of them were full of support and love and real-ness. I want to read it again, it was so sweet! Also, not romantic, because Lewis married someone else and with this book the reader gets to see the ups and downs or his engagement (with his fiance terribly ill with cancer) and o ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read if you want to get to know the man behind the Chronicles of Narnia and his other works. You learn things like his opinion on cats vs dogs.
Michael d'Offay
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Brilliant nuggets and wisdom here.
Y Salib
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Easy to read than most of CS Lewis books and has a personal touch. Gives a little inside to some aspect of CS Lewis life
I particularly like the letter about forgiveness
Amanda Lyons
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written in true Lewis form. It was nice to hear his voice again. Miracles do exist. I would like to hear his lecture on Hume. Prayer always. Blessings always.
Beth Kaminske
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I struggled with this book at first, since it only gave me one side of the conversation. But then I realized it was more about C.S. Lewis' private thoughts and how we can learn so much from them. It also revealed much about his private life. C.S. Lewis was a very great man, thinker and theologian!
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Good sense, good humor, good advice. Loved this!
Oct 29, 2013 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
Jun 13, 2009 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
Nov 20, 2010 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
Emilia P
Apr 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: churrrch, real-books
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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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Clive Staples Lewis 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
“Nightmares don't last.” 4 likes
“If we really believe what we say we believe- if we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a "wandering to find home", why should we not look forward to the arrival. There are, aren't there, only three things we can do about death: to desire it, to fear it, or to ignore it. The third alternative, which is the one the modern world calls "healthy" is surely the most uneasy and precarious of all.” 4 likes
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