This is my seventh post about 2015’s books for The Classics Club. I’ll be reading one classic book a month through 2018. Track what I’m reading for the Classics Club here. I’ll try not to include too many spoilers in my review but I may need to discuss some in order to fully review the book. I’ll warn you if I’m going to mention one.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
For once, a non-staged picture – Mark, nursing, having fallen asleep for bed. We barely fit in that chair anymore.
- Year Published: 1961
- Reread? Or new to me?: new to me
- Number of Pages: 76
- Date Finished: November 21st (I think)
- Number of Days it took me to read it: 7
- Page/Day ratio: 8:1
- Will I reread this?: No
I’ve read many of C.S. Lewis’s books (The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid and much of his non-fiction in college along with Till We have Faces). A Grief Observed (AGO) was very different. AGO is Lewis’s diary from the months following the death of his wife, Joy. I have to admit that I enjoyed and learned more from the foreword by Madeleine L’Engle than the book itself. I especially appreciated L’Engle’s reflection on the importance of the article, “a”, in the title. This is about one person’s grief and each person’s grief is necessarily drastically different than any other person’s grief. I appreciated her reminder that we shouldn’t assume to have the right answers for someone else just because we ourselves have gone through a similar loss.
I had a hard time pushing myself to finish this one. In the end, I think I struggled to read about another person’s desperate grief upon losing a spouse, not wanting to contemplate ever having to go through it myself.
How about you? Have you read AGO? What lesson did you take away from it?
In January, I’m reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. So far, I’m finding it quite funny. Want to join me in reading it?
[No outtake pictures for you – a sleeping boy does not make for silly pictures.]
I read A Grief Observed in about 1978. I was working at a Christian bookstore on Tudor Road that is long gone, and didn’t have a steady customer base, which left time for me to read a bit. I remember reading this book with tears streaming down my face, dumbfounded by the raw pain he was experiencing. It was maybe the first time I had encountered such genuine anger at God, and to observe Lewis’ journey through his pain at Joy’s death combined with his sense of betrayal from God was eyeopening for me.
Many years later Todd and I went to see Shadowlands, a movie based on this book. It was pretty much as wrenching as the book and Todd hated it, I think for the same reasons you had to force yourself to finish reading it. Frankly, I didn’t want to see it again either – too sad.
What I’ve learned in the intervening years is that Lewis was taken deeper spiritually than ever would have been possible without his life with Joy and then having her ripped away. It’s lousy, but the really difficult and impossible places in life are where we learn and grow, if we are willing to honestly work through the situation and humbly learn from it.
I was glad to see you post about a book I’ve actually read!
Aunt Zona, Thank you so much for your wise and rich thoughts. Clearly you remember more from the book than I did and you read it 36 years ago! I too saw Shadowlands in the theater and remember being ripped apart by the incredible raw sadness of it and never wanting to see it again. But I hadn’t connected it to this book until just now (had forgotten about the movie actually). Thanks for extending my learning from this book (something any teacher hopes to do!).