Til’ We Have Faces (Book Review)

It should be known that I find it very difficult to find adequate words to describe what I think about someone else’s writing, which is why I seldom do book reviews on any of the books I’ve read.  That being said, it should be easy for one to assume that since I’m sitting down now and trying to write a book review, it must be because I have found a book that has reached me in ways that I just simply can’t imagine choosing not to express them.

Til’ We Have Faces – C.S. Lewis

A painfully beautiful story straight out of Greek folklore, wonderfully re-painted and crafted by the author of such amazing books as the Chronicles of Narnia and The Great Divorce, and yet this book will probably remain my favorite of all Lewis’ tales.  Lewis takes an interesting approach to the telling of the story of Psyche and Cupid, he chose Psyche’s ugly older sister (Orual) as the narrator of the story.  As she begins her story it becomes clear that Orual is laying out her case against the gods, leading the reader to be the judge as to whether the gods have been just. Many times I found her constant state of self pity, her constant thought toward her own pain, and blatant disregard for the pain of the people around her to be almost intolerable.  I actually find myself afraid to type to much about the book because I don’t want to ruin any part of it, but I will say that the transformation that takes place with Orual  by the end of the book is the most beautiful conversion from dark to light I think I’ve ever experienced in a fiction book. At the end, we all discover that the final word isn’t spoken “til’ we have faces.”

On a more personal note, this book did to me what would be expected of some divine surgeon pulling me apart to remove some horrible tumor, and then carefully piecing me back together.  I come out better, different, but almost in a daze.  Almost like my soul has been completely renovated.

“I begin to think you know nothing of love?”  – Those words sent a shiver through my entire being as if those words had been spoken straight at me.  And really, if I’m honest with myself, as I look back those words had come through my ears before in many ways and yet none of them were heard or comprehended, until now.

The “love” I have known most recently within myself had been used in the same manner as a tyrant would use a sword, as a weapon used to extract what I selfishly believed I deserved or even just to get what I desired out of the relationships around me.  Phrases begin to haunt me at night, phrases from my past; phrases from my mouth, the like of which the lowest most repulsive men would find unbearable to live with. Statements birthed from manipulation, guilt, and fear. The book continues to push in further piercing my entire being as it continues:  “A love like that can grow to be nine-tenths hatred and still call itself love.”  What had my love become except the very definition of hatred.  The constant action of securing for myself my own selfish desires in a way that paralyzes the very person I claim to care about.  It reminds me of something the fox said apologetically to Orual, “I was wrong to weep and beg and try to force you by your love.  Love is not a thing to be so used.”  To turn someone’s love against them as a weapon of manipulation is nothing less than nine-tenths hatred.  I hope those to which I have treated this way will forgive me for I am truly sorry.

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