There are many biographies of C.S. Lewis out there and more have been released recently. I can’t speak for all of them, but this one is certainly one worth reading. A Life Observed: A Spiritual Biography of C.S. Lewis is not your ordinary biography. Devin Brown has set out to paint a picture of C.S. Lewis’s spiritual life. He admits that he is not setting out to write a lengthy and definitive biography of C.S. Lewis. Instead Brown writes that his goal is, “to focus closely on the story of Lewis’s spiritual journey and his search for the object of the mysterious longing he called Joy.”
Devin does in fact do what he set out to do. He chronicles the spiritual development of Lewis into and out of Atheism. If you are familiar with Lewis’s autobiography Surprised By Joy, much of the first half of this book will be familiar to you. It almost reads like a commentary on Surprised By Joy. Of course, being an autobiography, Lewis’s own work does not give the complete picture of his life and Brown’s work does. While some might not see this as beneficial, since the beginning of this book is largely based of Lewis’s own writing, Brown’s work is really helpful for those who want to explore the life of Lewis and how it impacted is writing. While he relies heavily on Surprised By Joy, Brown also works in connections to the other writings of Lewis. He shows how Lewis’s own experiences impact the events of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy.
I really enjoyed reading this biography. While many biographies are really thick and full of seemingly unending details, this one had a specific purpose which makes it much more accessible for the person who would like to know more about the life of C.S. Lewis without taking the time to read a hefty book. I also thought the purpose of this biography was beneficial to its subject. The spiritual development of Lewis’s life has a great impact on all the works that he wrote both fiction and non-fiction and knowing that brings a greater depth to his books. If you are a fan of C.S. Lewis, you should take some time to read this work. You will have a greater appreciation for the books of this beloved author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Brazos Press through netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”