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A Severe Mercy (1977)

by Sheldon Vanauken

Series: A Severe Mercy (1)

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2,137225,818 (4.22)19
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.
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» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
For fans of C.S. Lewis and deep thinking, this spiritual autiobiography is one that will stay with the reader long after he or she puts it down. In it the author relates the events of his life, mainly dealing with his deep love for his wife, Davy, and their resolve to create an unbreakable love. They thought long and deep about what it would take to make their bond unbreakable, even resolving to not have children and to follow one another into death. But that was before their journey to England, to Oxford, and their aquaintance with a vibrant Christian community, and with C.S. Lewis. As they seperately and then jointly begin lives of faith, they also wrestle with what that means for their lives, their careers, their friendships, and their marriage. Nothing tests the author quite so much as when Davy gets gravely ill. It is then that the words of C.S. Lewis in letters help and comfort him as he comes to terms with the "severe mercy" that they have been given. ( )
  debs4jc | Dec 17, 2020 |
This book is dear to me, as it's one of the first my fiance and I shared. It's the spiritual autobiography of the love between Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Jean ("Davy"), and it is probably the most heartbreakingly beautiful book I have ever read. It tells the story of their love from idealistic courtship days to World War II to graduate studies at Yale and Oxford, to Davy's illness and eventual death in Lynchburg and Charlottesville, Virginia. Most significantly, it recounts their conversion to Christianity and befriending of C.S. Lewis while in England. The sometimes-agonizing transformation of their love after they became Christians has impacted me deeply as I have contemplated marriage. I've read it twice within the past year and come away always with a longing for a cruciform love that is turned outward toward Christ and the world rather than inward upon itself. ( )
  LudieGrace | Aug 10, 2020 |
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.
  staylorlib | Feb 23, 2019 |
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. ( )
1 vote booksofmoerman | Dec 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Ah Studio! We'll meet again.
It won't be gaslight in the lane,
But just as gentle, only brighter.
And Jack on Aslan's back.
We'll sing His glory
Around those two: One Love-truth.
Old world will give one final 'crack!'
Our hearts could not be lighter.
Dom Julian OSB
(Upon reading the Oxford chapters of this book in manuscript.)
Dedication
For Davey
First words
[Author's Note] The C. S. Lewis letters to me that appear in this book have been given to the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
[Prologue] The country road stretched ahead white in the moonlight and deserted.
We met angrily in the dead of winter.
[Epilogue] I'll not catch such a flurry of living and grace,
To chase down the wind is sheer folly:
Just say that my life has a void lifeless place
For a little dead collie.
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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.

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