[Once Upon a Wardrobe]: A Review

Happy Spring, y’all!

Hope you are enjoying warmer weather, flowers, and green grass.

Today I am so excited to share my review of Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan. I absolutely loved this book! I really enjoyed Callahan’s Becoming Mrs. Lewis which focuses on a later time in Jack Lewis’ life. She has a talent for bringing this amazing author to life.

I loved the writing in this book and the beautiful settings, wonderful discussions of literature and life, and the characters that easily found a place in my heart. This is a book that can be life changing.

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Book Summary: ““Where did Narnia come from?” The answer will change everything.

Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics. She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.

Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.

Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know? The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.

The family relationships in this book are powerful and cozy. The characters feel like they could be my neighbors and friends. I loved getting to know them and feeling a part of their intimate relationships. I was blown away by the beautiful connections between especially siblings. Megs and George share such a special bond. I loved how far Meg is willing to go outside her comfort zone to help George. Their love for each other is just beautiful. I also loved the relationship between Jack and Warnie Lewis. They seem to understand each other more than anyone else in the world. I loved how they told their childhood stories and I loved learning more about how their deep bond developed. With these and other relationships, I loved how they fiercely love and support each other.

I was captivated by all the stories of CS Lewis’ childhood and life. So meaningful to read about his childhood in Ireland, visiting Dunluce Castle (now on my personal travel bucket list!), struggles like his mother’s early death, boarding schools, war, his love of literature, of fairy tales and of reading great books. I loved all the details about his life and how his experiences shaped his writing. Fascinating to read about his atheism turned Christianity. I knew he had changed his religious views that way but reading about some of the reasons was so interesting. I love how his character is shaped and the complexity to his life is described. Just a wonderful tribute to that great author, who was as welcoming and down to earth as I had hoped. And I love the time period with the first Narnia book just coming out. To experience Narnia as it was published for the first time would be so special! I love how George sits in the wardrobe and sketches Aslan throughout CS Lewis’ life stories.

As a passionate Anglophile, I loved the setting in the English country towns of Worcester and iconic Oxford. The descriptions of both are incredible! The cozy details of the kilns and Megs’ childhood home with roaring fires, hot tea, and cozy stories. I felt like I was in the den listening to Jack tell his stories. I was in the library experiencing fairy tales with Meg. I was in the wardrobe with George looking for magic. I was sipping tea in the kitchen and walking up the familiar front path. I loved the way Callahan creates these scenes. And the trip to Ireland to experience that castle! How incredible! The way a single experience can change your life. How places, stories and dreams all collide and connect. Breath taking!

This book changed me. It was so powerful! Such a satisfying and beautiful ending — even with heart wrenching sorrow and devastating loss throughout the book. Life is about joy and sorrow, love and loss, hope and despair, myth and truth, God and man, family and friends, small moments that change us, the books that create our destinies.

One of my favorite books I’ve read this year!

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Which books have impacted you deeply?
Any CS Lewis fans out there? Which are your favorite works of his?

10 thoughts on “[Once Upon a Wardrobe]: A Review

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