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Lenten Lands: My Childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  656 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Including the True Story of the Remarkable Love Affair between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis

There has probably never been a less likely couple: she, an American divorcee and the mother of two young boys; he, an Oxford don and confirmed bachelor who inhabited an eccentric household with his brother, a retired Royal Army major. Yet the relationship of C. S. Lewis and Joy Davi
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by HarperOne (first published 1988)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  656 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book about Lewis and Davidman, narrated with much love...
Gresham is Davidmans son, he meets as a child C. S. Lewis and his brother Warnie at the Kilns.
The book narrates his experiences during this time....
Later on, Davidman married Lewis, and soon after that became seriously ill and died.
So, yes, I recommend this book to all who love Lewis and his literary work!!!
I particularly loved the way how Gresham managed in his book to dismantle the legend who was C. S. Lewis presenting us "the man" beh
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Douglas Gresham, son of Joy, stepson to Jack, is a charming writer who gives the reader a real picture of life with his mother and later life with CS Lewis and his household at The Kilns. Because he was quite young when his mother and Jack died, this is not an in depth view but rather a series of glances from a schoolboy’s perspective. Still I enjoyed it.
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
I read this book hoping to gain personal insights into CS Lewis's home life. Written by Douglas Gresham, the younger of Lewis's two step-sons, it delivers what readers like myself are seeking. It is a fascinating read; unfortunately, I found it to be very, very sad and in the final analysis, a very depressing book. I don't know if it is because the Lewis brothers's last years of life were truly sad and depressing, or if this is due to how the author himself experienced those years. Douglas Gresh ...more
Kelsey Bryant
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Although someone might enter the pages of this book expecting to learn a lot about C. S. Lewis, it's not really meant for that. This is subtitled "My childhood with Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis," and its focus is Douglas Gresham, Lewis's younger stepson. As such, it's an interesting though somewhat peripheral piece of the C. S. Lewis biographical canon. But it does include important insights into Lewis's family life. I enjoyed learning about Lewis's and Douglas's relationship, as well as the rela ...more
Justin Wiggins
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book by my friend Douglas Gresham was a profoundly moving literary experience. It makes me appreciate Jack Lewis more.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating and well-written account of Douglas Gresham's early life. I read "Becoming Mrs. Lewis" before reading this. It's like the other side of the coin. ...more
John Stanifer
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I've owned for years that recently shot to the top of my TBR list when I found out Mr. Gresham is going to be a keynote speaker at a conference in North Carolina in November (one I'm planning to attend).

I knew the outline of the Joy & Jack love story from other books and from the parts of Shadowlands that happen to be historically accurate. But it's a whole different experience to get, not only a deeply personal perspective on that whole period from one of Joy's sons, but to find
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Now THIS is a memoir. I loved reading all of Gresham’s memories of his childhood with his mother and CS Lewis. And life after their passing. This story is brimming with emotions- love, regret, redemption. The way he shared his story was so vivid and raw, I couldn’t put the book down.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, inklings
Beautifully written memoir which gives a fascinating glimpse into the relationship between Gresham's mother and C.S. Lewis. I picked this up after reading Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis because I was curious about what happened to Joy's sons after the deaths of their mother and step-father. Douglas doesn't mention his brother much--I believe they are or have been estranged--but he does give a perspective on his mother very different from that presented in the the war ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about the brief family life of Joy and C. S. Lewis, a period in their lives that is either brushed past or dismissed in most biographies of the great writer. As I had hoped, Douglas told many lovely anecdotes about life with Mr. Lewis. But what really won me over was his effortlessly polished style and his "watercolor emotions" - that is, his conveyed his feelings with great nuance, anger and grief and despair bleeding into one another in a complex way that I, as ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a real heart breaker.

An autobiographical book from the perspective of Lewis’s youngest step son.

He had far too much loss in his childhood and teen years and is far too hard on himself for not being able to better cope as a teen with the very adult problems around him.

However, there are such important insights into his mother and Lewis in this book. It made it well worth the read, as sad as it often was.

Also, how Lewis loved Joy. And how he supported his stepson as well! A wonderful m
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this. I really really did. It sparked a number of interesting discussions when Spring was reading it. And I really liked the early going. CS Lewis sounded like a fascinating, beautiful man.

I wish that politics and leanings didn't come into play in these sorts of things, and I don't want them to, but they totally do. I just couldn't get past the utter contempt the author held for the working class, always describing various railway workers and gardeners and whoever else as lazy a
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
(maybe 3.5 stars?) When Joy Davidman married C. S. Lewis, she made him stepfather to her two sons, David and Douglas. In this book, the latter attempts to tell the story of the marriage from his point of view. The writing style is a bit awkward, but still is readable. And the author seems to be quite honest as he tells his own story.
Some of the reviewers have objected to certain attitudes reflected in the book, however if you are at all aware of the place and the time, those views of the "lower
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked parts of this book. I enjoyed seeing the story of the the Lewis' love story fleshed out a bit. However, overall the tone was one of bitterness and the pacing was somewhat odd. It works as a personal, rambling memoir, but doesn't have a true story or overarching message or theme to it. It also is highly skewed to the author's own perspective. This makes sense as a memoir, but one would expect some kind of disclaimer to the effect of, "This is just how I experienced this," which is missing ...more
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
The first three fourths of the book I found very interesting, since the information contained therein is indeed Gresham's childhood memories of his time observing his mother, Jack Lewis, Warnie, and life at the Kilns. The last one fourth, however, after the adults have passed away and Gresham relates his own life experiences somewhat disassociated from his time as a youth in proximity to Oxford, I found slightly less interesting.

Still, a solid read for the type of people who carry a fascination
Apr 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
I did finish the entire book............I thought it really wasn't that much about CS Lewis.....more about a young idealistic , all about me young man. And the writing left much to be desired. Alot of the same repeated in many of the chapters. ...more
Suzie Klein
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Although I found this book interesting, I think the title is misleading. The author's childhood with his mother and C.S. Lewis is actually a very small part of the book. I had hoped to learn more about the the intimate family and spiritual lives of Lewis and Joy Davidman, but the author and his viewpoints and feelings were the clear central focus of the book. In fact, the last several chapters are not about Douglas Gresham's childhood at all, but about the years after His mother and Lewis had bo ...more
Rachael Dingman
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think it is important to view this book as personal memoir. I had expectations that were not attuned to the tenure of this piece, I expected a lot more about Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, but, of course, it was about Gresham. seems obvious to most no doubt, but I was led astray by my own pre-conceived notion of this book.
it was a good book. I learned a lot, Gresham is a deep thinker, his though processes and considerations were enjoyable. The love story had details filled in for me. A look int
Melissa Watros
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
My advice, read this book without Interruptions (reading another book at the same time) because it’s one of those that if you don’t read for a few days, it’s tough to get back into.
The beginning caught my interest right away, it is a very long book.
Towards the middle of the book, started to lose interest as she goes to England in the 1st half. I stuck with it and it started to grab my attention again and I’m glad I read this book. Although, I must confess, I’m not a fan of poetry and most of t
Karen R. Dickson
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by Douglas Gresham, youngest son of Joy Davidman, who also became C. S. Lewis' stepson. But reading this great book, you need to know you are reading Gresham, not looking for information about Lewis. I especially enjoyed Gresham's honesty about his life, his disjointed relationship with the British school system, and his married life in Tasmania (I mean, really, have you every heard of anyone living in Tasmania?!!) and Gresham is clearly born of parents who are w ...more
Becky Hintz
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it were fascinating to a Lewis fan, and gave a different perspective on the situation at the Kilns. But the author's opinions are distasteful and his writing style is flavored with bitterness and hubris. He insists that his mother had only the purest of motives in her seduction of Lewis, that their romance was natural and deep and real, and that she enriched his life rather than driving him to an early grave. These assertions are rather diffic ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what I expected, but it wasn't this. Gresham has a frankness about him I find refreshing -- but is oblique about some things, including his estrangement with his brother (who other than a few references here and there, no one would ever know existed). He also gave me a raw sense of fury when he described their awful housekeeper and her vindictive, evil pleasure in bringing C.S. Lewis to tears. But because it's a biography, there are no resolutions to things... there's a great deal o ...more
I picked this up as a follow-up to Becoming Mrs. Lewis, but can't say I really found any insights here. This is definitely a memoir of Mr. Gresham, and there were bits about his mother and Jack, but mostly random musings about his learning to shoot, or pontificating on the proper way to decorate a Christmas tree. The one thing I did find mildly interesting was that he mostly blamed his parents' divorce on his father's involvement with Scientology (but that's a single sentence, without further di ...more
Jim Layman
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
It is evident that the author suffered great loss in his childhood, both parents and beloved stepfather all dying before he reached adulthood. I have re-read this book with interest in the valued reminiscences about CS Lewis and Joy Davidman ( his mother). Gresham had a unique view of their relationship and offers insight into their joys and trials that is valuable in understanding each, and for that, I am grateful for his candor.
Sadly, beyond those observations, the author goes on to say muc
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I always enjoy a good autobiography. Gresham is honest about his thoughts, feelings, joys, and disappointments as a young boy growing into a man. He includes many vignettes that he says may not seem important, but were important to him. It is interesting to read about seemingly small things that made deep impressions upon him as a child and young man. It is sad to read about the pain after his mother’s and then step-father’s death, however, it is clear by his writing that he has now found peace. ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Another perspective on the marriage of Joy Davidman (Douglas Gresham's mother) and C.S. Lewis. Douglas suffered from the British public school system, and wasn't able to get in touch with emotions of any kind until he met Merry, his future wife; and for some reason, his older brother appears to have been almost non-existent in his life. I would like to know more about that. He confesses to being selfish and self centered in his relationships with Jack and Warnie after his mother's death, but at ...more
Maggie Grace
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because outside of the movie, Shadowlands, I knew nothing about Joy Davidman. She was an interesting person with a brilliant mind, a fun attitude, a frugal mother living on next to nothing, a crafter, decorator and the love of C.S. Lewis' life. I also enjoyed Douglas Gresham's story of his own life from being and American to growing into an English Schoolboy and a farmer, writer, broadcaster. Such a wide variety of interests and he could see England from an outsider's perspecti ...more
Hilary Forrest
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recently we were privileged to meet Douglas Gresham in Greenville and to hear him speak. He was fascinating to listen to and so I also enjoyed reading this book about growing up with his mother and CS Lewis. I think he is a great story teller and he even shared some of the same stories live with us, almost 25 years later after writing this book.

I find it interesting that he shares little to no information regarding his brother in Lenten Lands. I wonder what happened to him?
Jul 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recently we were privileged to meet Douglas Gresham in Greenville and to hear him speak. He was fascinating to listen to and so I also enjoyed reading this book about growing up with his mother and CS Lewis. I think he is a great story teller and he even shared some of the same stories live with us, almost 25 years later after writing this book.

I find it interesting that he shares little to no information regarding his brother in Lenten Lands. I wonder what happened to him?
Noreen Chase
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Douglas Gresham is the son of the late Joy Davidman and the step-son of the late C.S. Lewis. It is told from his POV recollecting his youth and teenage years when his mother's first marriage dissolved and Joy, seeking a new life, uprooted her two sons from America and moved to England where she eventually met C.S. Lewis.

A heart-breaking memoir, Greshman does not hold back relating the years of struggle he and his brothers experienced adapting to a new culture and the abandonment he felt when Jo
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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

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