Till We Have Faces: Welcome to the Discussion

Ask an author to name his favorite of all the books he’s written, and most will demur, insisting that it’s like trying to choose a favorite child.  

Not C.S. Lewis.

He believed Till We Have Faces to be his best book.

In his novel based on the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, Lewis uses the narrative to explore themes such as the limits of reason, the selfishness of natural love, and the nature of faith.

Plot Summary

Orual, warrior queen of Glome, wore a veil.  Tired of the harsh comments, the too-long glances, and worst of all, the pity, she chose mystery, invisibility — and in the process, she gained renown.

Set in a culture in which a woman’s role and status were defined by her beauty, her husband, or both, Orual had neither, but managed to carve out a life for herself based on the love of her youngest sister, Psyche, and the challenge of learning and gaining new skills.  Written in memoir form, Till We Have Faces chronicles Orual’s howling question, “What do the gods want from us?” and the jarring answer she received at the end of her life.

All analysis aside, when C.S. Lewis writes a story, it’s a story.  Just as in the Chronicles of Narnia, readers will bond with particular characters and despise others.   I’ve invited friends who visit Living Our Days to join me in reading the book over the next several weeks.

January 5 (Today!) . . . . . . . . . . .Introductory Post
January 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Part I, Chapters 1-3
January 19 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapters 4-6
January 26. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapters 7-9
February 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapters 10-12
February 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapters 13-15
February 16. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapters 16-19
February 23. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapters 20-21
March 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Part II, Chapters 1-2
March 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Chapters 3-4

The big challenge in writing about fiction will be for us to discuss the book and to write meaningfully without blowing the unfolding plot for those who are experiencing the book for the first time.   We’ll all do our best!

Reflection

I discovered Till We Have Faces in college and have read it at least a half dozen times since then.  I love Orual’s strength, but identify with many of her weaknesses.  Lewis’s curiosity about longing (Sehnsucht) plays an important part in the unfolding drama and whether we choose to call it myth or allegory or metaphor, his references to the numinous are stunning.

I hear Mr. Beaver’s voice echoing all the way from Narnia in this conversation between Orual and her Greek tutor, the Fox:

Fox:  “Why, yes, child.  The gods have been accused by you.  Now’s their turn.”
Orual:  “I cannot hope for mercy.”
Fox:  “Infinite hopes — and fears — may both be yours.  Be sure that, whatever else you get, you will not get justice.”
Orual:  “Are the gods not just?”
Fox:  “Oh, no, child.  What would become of us if they were?”

Let’s Get Started

I’ll be here next Thursday (January 12) having read Chapters 1-3.  I’ll share a summary to get us started, mention some of my insights, and then throw the door wide open for your input.
How do you participate?
Simply get a copy of the book and read along.  You don’t need to register or commit to anything other than just reading the book!

However . . .  I would love to hear your thoughts as we read, so if you have a blog, I hope that you will write a post about each section and then share it here by copying the URL of that post into the comments section below.  It will be fun — and enlightening — to learn from each other’s insights.  If you do not blog, just share your thoughts directly to the comments.

Don’t feel as if you need to share earth-shattering observations.  Just write about what impressed you in the section we are reading.  If something puzzled you, pose your questions to the group.  Let’s commit to reading the book and learning from it in community!

In the meantime, are you planning to read with us?
Will this be your first time through Till We Have Faces or are you a repeat reader?
What else have you read by Lewis?  Do you have a favorite?
Where are you, who are you, and what do you love?
Do you plan to blog about your impressions?
Let’s begin to get acquainted in the comments below!  

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

59 thoughts on “Till We Have Faces: Welcome to the Discussion”

  1. Happy New Year Michele! I hope you had a blessed holiday season. Outside of my bible and devotionals, I am not much of a book reader. I have started several and finished a few. Those few books have made an impact on my life , so I am trying to be better. Many blessings to you and yours in 2017.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love C. S. Lewis’ writings and have read most of them except for this one. I now have it and am going to enjoy reading it along with you and others. Thanks for the challenge!

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  3. Hi Michele,
    I don’t know how I found you but I am so happy that I did! Thank you for offering this read-a-long time. I will read the book for the first time and while I have read “The Chronicles of Narnia” and parts of “Mere Christianity”,I’ve always been sort of ‘afraid’ to
    approach Lewis because I get so overwhelmed by huge insights that seem to challenge my ‘current’ view of life. I first heard of CS Lewis when I read “A Severe Mercy” by
    Sheldon Van Auken(?) as Lewis wrote an introduction to that book which made a huge impression on me. By the way, I am so blessed to be the mom of my two daughters and I love just being a Mom. I am also blessed to be on this journey with my wonderful husband. I am also involved recently with our parish youth ministry. I really look forward to reading and learning with you in the weeks ahead. Thanks again! Nancy

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    1. Nancy! So much fun to meet a new friend this morning, and I have loved A Severe Mercy as well! It’s been years since I read it, but just hearing the title makes me long to sit down with Sheldon and Davey and a good cup of tea. I do hope that you will share your thoughts about Till We Have Faces. If you just read the story and don’t worry about “huge insights” at first, I think you’ll really enjoy Orual and the world of Glome that Lewis has created.

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  4. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts each week, Michele. I have the horrible disease of never being able to read fiction well. I could read non-fiction all the live-long day, but I’ve always struggled with fiction. Will love reading your thoughts. 🙂 And, thank you for linkup up at the #ChasingCommunity launch! Yay. So glad to have you join in. xoxo

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  5. I’m so thankful to be reading along with you! A dear friend loaned me “Till We Have Faces” several years ago, and I kept holding onto it, saying I would get to it soon, but soon never felt right. Until now. When I started reading it this week, in preparation for your Book Study, I’ve not been able to put it down! I have loved all of C.S. Lewis’ writings, so I’m not sure why I hesitated reading this one. I guess God knew when the time would be right! I hope to post some blog thoughts along with your discussions as well. Blessings to you this New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I found you on Encouraging Hearts and Home today, and I also shared a pot about Till We Have Faces so I had to click over here! I read it for the first time in October, and it floored me. I’ve already started reading it a second time. And I wrote the quote you quoted above in my commonplace! It’s such an awesome book, I’ll definitely be back to check out the discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jennifer, I just read your post — amazing! Would you consider sharing a link to it in the comments here? I think it would be a great boost for those interested in an overview, and it will certainly whet readers’ appetites!

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  7. I’m looking forward to reading along, Michele! I’m certain it will be an overwhelming experience as most of his writing is too deep for me! I look forward to your insights and those of the others. I don’t have a specific blog plan in mind, but as I feel led, I certainly will share! This is a new read for me. I’ve read a few of Lewis’ works. Narnia, of course, and the great, crazy, mad trilogy. The Screwtape Letters are a favorite and I’ve half a dozen of his other works in the que. Have a blessed week!

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  8. In the meantime, are you planning to read with us? I am not sure if I will be reading with you but definitely plan on reading this at some point! It will be my first time reading the book and I have read a few of Lewis’ titles. I actually really enjoyed his sci fi trilogy before he became Christian but then besides that I liked “Mere Christianity”
    I am in Portland, my name is Becca and I am a SAHM as well as a blogger for Imaginary Book Club for the “Kids Read with IBC series”, and I love Jesus, reading, knitting, tea, and of course my husband and son.
    I will not be blogging about my impressions but will most likely be coming back here to see others impression.

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    1. I also like the Sci-Fi trilogy. I read it first in college, but have re-read it since, and then read the first one out loud with my youngest son last year. Fun to share it with him! Are you in Portland, Maine or Portland, Oregon? I’m also a SAHM and a tea lover, but am only able to knit mittens. Hope that you enjoy reading! If you liked the Space Trilogy, it’s likely that you will also enjoy TWHF.

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  9. Hi Michele!
    In response to your questions and a follow-up to our communication about his previously: 1) Yes, I am planning to read with you (hoping to keep up with other things going); 2) This will be my first time reading Till We Have Faces; 3) Yes, I have read other C.S. Lewis works (not all); 4) My favorite C.S. Lewis often has varied depending on when it intersected my life and what was happening at that point. Certainly The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and A Grief Observed come to mind immediately; 5) I am in NE Ohio; 6) I am a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, writer, photographer, former teacher, clinical counselor and marriage and family therapist, and staff pastor; 7) I love reading, writing, photography, movies, travel, a great cup of coffee or tea (Yes, I love both!), time spent with a good friend or my family, music (many types), and discovering new things, places, and people; and 8) I am not sure if I will blog about my impressions, but very possibly at least once after I get more of the material under my belt.
    Thanks for guiding the conversation!

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  10. Michele, I have had this book but not read it yet. I would love to join with you but feel like I’m so behind in my reading of things I’ve committed to. I’m going to try my best, though, to find time to read it. It sounds like a great one.

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  11. Just digging out of holiday colds and flu and glad to be in the land of the living and reading! I was surprised to find that for just .99 I could purchase 14 of Lewis’ novels and two short stories for my Kindle. What a wealth for such a pittance! So, I have my copy of TWHF and was pleased to realize I have not ever read it! It’s hard to stay within the schedule; I seem to have gotten to chapter 5 without meaning to! But I’m looking forward to the discussion ( : Thank-you Michele for taking this on!

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    1. Glad you’re over all the junk.
      And I’m relieved to hear you say that you’re ahead of schedule. I was a bit nervous that readers would feel rushed with three chapters a week, but I see that you’re experiencing just the opposite! I’m excited that this is your first time through the book, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it all. There’s so much content in those first three chapters, it will be a challenge to decide what to write about.

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  12. I love C.S.Lewis and so did one of my pastors who recently went on to be with Jesus. He used his writings a lot in his sermons. I won’t be able to read along but I sure will stop in and see what everyone is saying. This is such a great idea. We talked about doing a book club in our women’s group before too, like this! Blessings to you, Michele!

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  13. The Kindle collection I got was called:
    The C. S. Lewis Fiction Collection (14 Novels & 2 Short Stories Inc. The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Space Trilogy, The Pilgrim’s Regress, The Great Divorce & Till We Have Faces)
    Fantastic price–99cents!

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  14. I still have not dug into C.S. Lewis except for The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe years ago. I have too many other things on my plate to join right now but have always wanted to read his books and dig into how he explains his faith.

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  15. I’m tempted, but I’m in the middle of a series and have my book club book waiting to be read too!

    It IS nice when you have some one to discuss the book you’re reading, tear it apart piece by piece and philosophise. Book clubs are the best!

    #practicalmondays

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  16. Michele, the Chronicles of Narnia aren’t just my favorite Lewis books; they are my favorite books, period! I read “The Screwtape Letters” for the first time a year or so ago and thought it was profound too. I don’t have much space to participate right now, but I will follow along here. And I’m going to find a copy of “Til We All Have Faces” because your summary has made me want to read it! (And if you give away the plot, that’s OK with me … I always read the end first anyway!)

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  17. I’ve read only two of C.S. Lewis’ books, Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters. I enjoyed both immensely for different reasons. If I didn’t have already too many books on my nightstand to read through, I would join you, Michele. But I hope your study and the thoughts that it stirs for you and others are awe-inspiring. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Michele,

    I have yet to get the book… life sort of took control of my reading schedule once school started again… but I am following along with you and eager to start reading this myself. Thank you for introducing yet another amazing book to read. You bless me.
    Hugs,
    Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

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