Sorry, but this review will be a little different due to the fact that this was a hard book to review. I bought Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis in college after a recommendation from a friend, but it has taken me this long to finally get around to reading it. There were a couple of times that I tried to start, but it’s not the sort of story that grabs you from the beginning. In fact, the whole story is pretty slow-paced, though the book is not all that long. It’s “a myth retold” of Psyche and Cupid, who I knew nothing of going into this. It might have helped to know beforehand, but knowing after did not help me feel an absolute resolution from the end. Nor did it help me fully understand all the things I know C.S. Lewis was probably trying to say and I feel I did not quite understand. This book could be slow, confusing, captivating, clear, mysterious, or thoughtful, and who knows, maybe that’s the point.
The ending did not feel very resolute for me. At some point, I found myself connecting with the main character, Orual. I wanted the answers to her questions just as she did. Why did the gods demand her sister? Or did they? What happened to her on the evening she last saw her? Why would they make her suffer? The ending that I felt was supposed to reveal all this did not give me all the answers I hoped for. Maybe I missed the point. Or maybe the point was we can’t know all of God’s mysterious ways.
While reading reviews of the book on Goodreads while still trying to process it all, I learned that C.S. Lewis started writing this book when he was an atheist, but at some point stopped, and then picked it up years later when he was a Christian. I didn’t see any clear parallels to Christianity or theology, which again, makes me wonder if I missed something. I saw a couple of theories and ideas in reviews, but I didn’t want to read too many of them because I wanted to figure it out myself. Well, over a week later I haven’t. Maybe years from now, I’ll try re-reading it.
Here’s what I will say. This book is based on a myth, and mythology does not really interest me much. C.S. Lewis was a much smarter man than I am, so I believe there is a message in here I am missing. Though it was slow in parts and not always exciting, there were parts that piqued my interest and kept me turning the page.
I’ve had an extremely hard time deciding on a rating for this, and nothing feels right. 3 stars feels like a slap to Lewis since this was his favorite work, and four stars makes it seem like I was just a little bit more into it than I was. I don’t want to do a half rating, and I can’t for my Goodreads rating, but I’m giving it a 3.5 anyway. I liked it. I almost really liked it. It was just a hard read in the sense that I just don’t completely understand it and that frustrates me.
If you’ve read Till We Have Faces, please let me know your thoughts! And if you haven’t read it but are considering it, I would recommend you check out multiple reviews before deciding if it’s your cup of tea, unless you really love Lewis and just want to read it for that purpose alone. I don’t believe it would be a waste of your time.
What book was hard for you to process?