Joy Davidman is known, if she is known at all, as the wife of C. S. Lewis. Their marriage was immortalized in the film Shadowlands and Lewis’s memoir, A Grief Observed. Now, through extraordinary new documents as well as years of research and interviews, Abigail Santamaria brings Joy Davidman Gresham Lewis to the page in the fullness and depth she deserves.
A poet and radical, Davidman was a frequent contributor to the communist vehicle New Masses and an active member of New York literary circles in the 1930s and 40s. After growing up Jewish in the Bronx, she was an atheist, then a practitioner of Dianetics; she converted to Christianity after experiencing a moment of transcendent grace. A mother, a novelist, a vibrant and difficult and intelligent woman, she set off for England in 1952, determined to captivate the man whose work had changed her life.
Davidman became the intellectual and spiritual partner Lewis never expected but cherished. She helped him refine his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, and to write his novel Till We Have Faces. Their relationship—begun when Joy wrote to Lewis as a religious guide—grew from a dialogue about faith, writing, and poetry into a deep friendship and a timeless love story.
||Abigail Santamaria holds an MFA in non-fiction writing from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, Jentel Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.Joy is her first book. She lives in New York City.
This brilliantly researched biography has changed me for good.
- Walter Hooper, personal secretary to C.S. Lewis
Abigail Santamaria has written a luscious Narnia tale for grown-ups, a literary biography that takes the shape of a quest narrative as the brilliant idealistic Joy Davidman Gresham, writer and free spirit, adopts one cause after another until finally setting her cap for her spiritual mentor, C.S. 'Jack' Lewis. Santamaria's astonishing detective work reveals the surprising truth behind Lewis's description of the couple as 'a sinful woman married to a sinful man', even as she portrays their late-life love affair as salvational to them both.
- Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life
A biography about the brilliant and brash New Yorker who captured C. S. Lewis's heart was long overdue, so I'm thrilled to report that Abigail Santamaria does not disappoint. Her highly readable book should be the definitive biography of Joy Davidman for a long time to come.
- Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author of Miracles and Bonhoeffer