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A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

A Severe Mercy (original 1977; edition 2009)

by Sheldon Vanauken (Author)

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1,733186,012 (4.25)17
Title:A Severe Mercy
Authors:Sheldon Vanauken (Author)
Info:HarperOne (2009), Edition: Reprint, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken (1977)


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This is a lovely memoir which is half love story, one quarter faith story, and one quarter story about the author's exchange of letters with C.S. Lewis. The most interesting and unique aspect of the book was Vanauken's description of the oneness that he and his wife carefully planned and largely realized for a while. They called the concept the Shining Barrier--their way of living which would guard their love above all else because any sort of separation could constitute a wedge between them. ( )
  LauraBee00 | Mar 7, 2018 |
not sure whether this is a love story, an autobiography, a treatise on aesthetics, an apologetic of Christianity, a manual on dealing with grief, or a book of poetry and literature...but I was awfully pleased to read of CS Lewis using the designation "corking good" in reference to another author.

My only beef is that the author examines his grief so scientifically and philosophically that, should I find myself in a similar position, I would not draw any comfort from his hypotheses.

On the other hand...what a mind! To gain the insights from examining his life as he has...makes me feel the rest of us (myself chiefly) muddle through life like a bunch of bumbling idiots. ( )
  booksofmoerman | Dec 22, 2017 |
This is a book I need to buy.. and re-read . Thanks to Booklady for reviewing this one. It was a bit tough for me, at the beginning, getting past the affluent, aristocratic culture of the Vanaukens. I always find that sort of lifestyle a bit off putting: the parties, the yacht clubs, the trips to Europe, etc... but I did manage to get beyond that.. and then the rest of the book was fascinating, as he dealt with deep questions of faith, heaven, loss, loneliness,jealousy, grief. The letters from C.S. Lewis were moving, personal. Made me wish I'd known Lewis as an advisor! I lent the book to my mother and have recommended this to others as well. ( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
Fascinating and deeply touching memoir of love and loss and grief. Not the easiest book in the world to read, but worth the effort. ( )
  Luke_Brown | Sep 10, 2016 |
A very moving true story from the middle of the 20th century. It's about a married couple, deeply in love, and the way they find Christianity in Oxford. Some letters from CS Lewis are included, and the whole is beautifully written. Highly recommended. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060688246, Paperback)

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as "the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers." Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful pagan love borne out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share. As a symbol of their love, they name their dream schooner the Grey Goose, "for the grey goose, if its mate is killed flies on alone and never takes another."

While studying at Oxford, Sheldon and Davy develop a friendship with C.S. Lewis, under whose influence and with much intellectual scrutiny they accept the Christian doctrine. As their devotion to God intensifies, Sheldon realizes that he is no longer Davy's primary love--God is. Within this discovery begins a brewing jealousy.

Shortly after, Davy acquires a fatal illness. After her death Sheldon embarks on an intense experience of grief, "to find the meaning of it, taste the whole of it ... to learn from sorrow whatever it had to teach." Through painstaking reveries, he comes to discover the meaning of "a mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love." He learns that her death "had these results: It brought me as nothing else could do to know and end my jealously of God. It saved her faith from assault. ...And it saved our love from perishing."

Replete with 18 letters from C.S. Lewis, A Severe Mercy addresses some of the universal questions that surround faith--the existence of God and the reasons behind tragedy. --Jacque Holthusen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Beloved, profoundly moving account of the author's marriage, the couple's search for faith and friendship with C. S. Lewis, and a spiritual strength that sustained Vanauken after his wife's untimely death"--Publisher description.

(summary from another edition)

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