Alan Marchant's Reviews > Till We Have Faces

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Jul 12, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction
Read in August, 2007

through a glass, darkly

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold is the most novelistic of the many books by C. S. Lewis. But don't expect it to satisfy on that level. All of Lewis' fiction is an allegorical exploration of man's relationship to God. Till We Have Faces deals particularly with the question of why God seems so distant.

The story is a carefully crafted version of the Greek myth of Psyche, a mortal woman who has a difficult romance with the god Eros. The point of view is that of a homely sister, Orual, who is consumed by unrecognized jealously at being ignored (as she supposes) by the gods. Over time, experience develops in her an independent spirit - a "face" of her own - that qualifies her to converse with God.

I enjoyed this book much more 30 years ago, when the pleasant narrative and the dream-fantasy sequences were enough to carry the allegory. But in my latest reading, the relatively weak characterization and the lack of real challenge in the protagonist's life detracts from the effect.

I respect C. S. Lewis highly as a clear-minded Christian theologian. But like princess Orual, his life experience was hardly rich enough to support the weight of his message.

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