The category of book I’ve been reading the last two weeks is: A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. The book I chose for this category was Till We Have Faces. Below you’ll find some information about the book, a summary, and some closing thoughts. If you’d like to skip straight to my ratings, click here.
Bibliographic Information: Lewis, C.S. Till We Have Faces. New York: Mariner Books. 1984.
Summary: Till we have faces is Lewis’ take on the myth of Psyche and Cupid. His story is told from the perspective of Orual. She was the eldest daughter of the king, and the ugliest of two girls. It was shameful for the king not have have a son and when their mother died the king was given to bouts of rage. When the king remarried and his new wife became pregnant, he was sure it was a son. It was not. The new mother died giving birth to Psyche, around whom the rest of the story revolves, though it is told from Orual’s perspective. The story is actually the complaint of Orual against the gods for what they had done to Psyche–that is to give her supernatural beauty, grace, and favor with the peoples (ironically Orual was repeatedly called ogre et al). Some claimed that her beauty and grace rivaled that of Ungit herself (the barbarian version of Aphrodite). Ungit did not appreciate the comparison and turned the people and eventually turns the people of Glome (his kingdom) against him because of her. Later events (I will leave them untold so as not to spoil the story) cause a schism between Orual and Psyche. Because of this schism Orual comes to hate and even disbelieve in the gods (due in no small part to the teaching of her Greek tutor the Fox). The story culminates as Orual seeks to restore her relationship with Psyche while trying to avoid the wrath of the gods.
9/10 This book was fantastic. It was easy to read, had believable yet exciting plot turns, and characters that were realistic within their world. Till We Have Faces was easily my favorite of Lewis’ fiction writing and among my top fiction novels. If you enjoy myths or the match of wit vs beauty vs brawn vs (pagan) religion then you’ll enjoy this book.
This book earns the “ugliest girl tells the best story” award.
Here’s a few quotes from the book that I enjoyed:
About her complaint to the gods, Orual felt compelled to write it stating that, “I was with book as woman is with child.”
This one needs no explanation: “‘Why yes, it’s a pity about her face. But she’s a brave girl and honest. If a man was blind and she weren’t a king’s daughter, she’d make him a good wife.’ And that is the nearest thing to a love-speech that was ever made me.”