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Letters to an American Lady Paperback – 1 Sep 1971

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co; New edition edition (1 Sept. 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080281428X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802814289
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 0.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,048,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


-- J. R. R. Tolkien"Deeply interesting and very moving."-- Robert Cromie in Chicago Tribune"A literary gem."-- Christianity Today"The reader will discover testimony for the patient faith and generous life of the private man who was this century's most famous Christian apologist. . . . Lewis readers will treasure these letters for the glimpse they offer into the personal witness of the man."

-- J. R. R. Tolkien
"Deeply interesting and very moving."
-- Robert Cromie in "Chicago Tribune"
"A literary gem."
"-- Christianity Today"
"The reader will discover testimony for the patient faith and generous life of the private man who was this century's most famous Christian apologist. . . . Lewis readers will treasure these letters for the glimpse they offer into the personal witness of the man." -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

About the Author

C S Lewis(1898-1963) He held the chair of Medieval and Renaissance English Literature at Cambridge University in England. Among his many famous works are Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, the Chronicles of Narnia series, Miracles, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, and Surprised by Joy.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Adam VINE VOICE on 2 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
Before reading these letters I made the incorrect assumption that they were between C S Lewis and Joy Gresham, before he married her.

They are not. They span the 13 years before his death (November 1963 on the same afternoon as the death of JFK) and are to a widow four years older than Lewis, Mary, “a southern aristocratic lady who loves to talk and speaks well.” This, together with the JFK link, I learnt in Clyde S.Kilby’s useful and concise Preface. Mr Kilby, who edited the volume, puts the letters in context by summarising the key themes in Lewis’s theological thought that find their way into the letters, and highlighting the key events in Jack Lewis’s life that the letters cover.

In the course of these letters, Professor Lewis moved home and work from Oxford to Cambridge, met Joy, married her, and suffered her loss, and became ill himself. The letters become increasingly poignant as they chart Lewis’s decline, and end a few months before his death, with Lewis explaining he can only write letters that communicate “more of a wave of the hand.”

The correspondence is one-sided. Mary wished to remain anonymous. But we gather that she was beset by problems at work, with unfair and jealous colleagues, with money and housing problems, and her poor health is a recurring theme. Towards the end Jack jokes that between them it’s like a race to the grave. Often, Lewis’s letters open with an “I am sorry to hear…” and you feel that Mary used the correspondence to offload and to seek to understand her suffering of various kinds.
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Format: Paperback
I used to think of CS Lewis (who signed as 'Jack' in these letters) as someone who is all great, but distant. I have been wanting to read this softer and more personal side of him and this book reveals Jack as who he is. After reading his letters to Mary, the blessed lady who got to receive so many letters from him for more than a decade, I have grown to know Jack, more like a friend, instead of someone who would just inspire me from a faraway place.

Through his letters, he seems to me to be a very compassionate friend and a passionate person who continuously encouraged Mary to go on with positive words, sound advices, quirky remarks and funny comments that made me smile in a crowded tube to work.

I wish (quite impossibly) that there is still a glimmer of hope to have such a penpal like CS Lewis, at this age, although everything is conveyed electronically. There is this small desire in my heart to still receive letters that are handwritten, with sentences that are well thought out before being penned on a paper, instead of blasting those words hurriedly across the screen.

I am blessed to have read this book, although it was delivered to me as a yellowed, used library book, I cherish this all the same, because of the insights that have changed and influenced my perspectives on forgiveness and that our time here on earth is far too short to be wasted on being angry when things don't go our way.

Thank you, Jack, for your honesty and for being so human in these letters. I felt that these letters were written for me too.
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Format: Paperback
this book gives an insight to the life and the writings of lewis. but most of all, his undying faith in god... his advises to the american lady the resiever of his letters, can be used today.
the book offers so much to todays reader. and a lewis loving reader should not doubt the fact this this book belongs on the book shelf along with the rest of his books.
it is comical, loving and full of spirit, and the book itself becomes alive in the readers hands.
the language is true to the time, since there has been no alterations, and the language is beautiful.
it took me only a day to read it, it is impossible to put down untill you're finished.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x87ee1fa8) out of 5 stars 21 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87f18630) out of 5 stars A Unique Personal Glimpse at C. S. Lewis 16 April 2003
By Paul M. Dubuc - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of letters written by C. S. Lewis to an American woman during the last 13 years of his life. I found it pretty dull reading at first. The book only contains Lewis' half of the conversation and most of the letters are pretty short or deal with trivial matters. But, for those who are interested in a more of a personal glimpse of Lewis there are some interesting insights offered: Like what he thought about what journalists have written about him in papers and magazines, his correspondence during the years of his marriage to Joy Davidman (and after her death), the heaviness of the load of correspondence he carried on with many people. Lewis appears to have seen letter writing as more of a duty than a pleasure. He often complained that the load of personal mail made his life miserable, especially at Christmastime. Yet he seems to have faithfully read and answered all those letters.
Toward the end of the book the letters get more lengthy and and interesting. I was particularly struck by Lewis' attitude toward dying. He was able to look forward to his eventual death with a genuine hope and longing for the better world beyond these "shadowlands" and he was able to encourage this lady along those lines through the problems they both had with aging and poor health. I hope such a mature attitude of faith will be mine also when my time comes. It is the hallmark of a life lived for the glory and love of God.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87f1d72c) out of 5 stars An interesting look at the real Lewis 18 Oct. 2000
By E. Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Of course CS Lewis has proven to be the most popular Christian author of the 20th century. And for good reason. He's articulate, well-reasoned, and he certainly has a way with words. This book gives an inside look at Lewis as he corresponds with an American woman whom he apparently never met. The letters were written between 1950 until he died in 1963. If you like reading other peoples' mail (what is it, esp. we Americans have, with such things?), then this can make for interesting reading. Much of what he says here, though, is pretty trivial and doesn't get very deep. But if you want a personal glimpse of Lewis, its probably worth the read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x892dace4) out of 5 stars Sweet And Encouraging 19 Dec. 2005
By R. E. Whitlock - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a lovely short book. Lewis' correspondent has her share of health problems, money worries, and family and work troubles. He shows himself a kind and generous man, spiritually encouraging this woman whom he was never to meet, as well as helping her financially. He has a kind and tactful way of expressing himself when they disagree. This book shows a very human side of Lewis. I found his advice very pertinent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87f78bd0) out of 5 stars A Look into C.S. Lewis as a Person 28 Dec. 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Letters to an American Lady is a compilation of letters C.S. Lewis wrote to a woman in the US named Mary, whom he never met face-to-face, over the last 13 years of his life (1950-1963). While most other Lewis books, essays, lectures, etc, introduce the reader to his theology, philosophy and imagination, this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the man himself. We learn of his day-to-day routine, his various health maladies, his thoughts on cats and dogs (turns out he's more of a "cat person"), and his genuine humility and desire to encourage others. The reader also learns how Lewis dealt with the sickness and death of his wife, and, just three years after that, his own impending demise. And although these letters are "mere" personal correspondences not originally meant for publication, one may still glean a good bit of wisdom from them, as well. Lewis ("Jack" to his friends) has much to say to Mary about dependence upon God and others, the need for one to live in the present, the Christian's appropriate attitude toward death, and much more. For anyone who wants to get to know C.S. Lewis as a person--and receive some wise counsel while so doing--this is a great little book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x87f78ee8) out of 5 stars A WIDE-RANGING SERIES OF LETTERS FROM LEWIS TO A WIDOW 10 Sept. 2013
By Steven H Propp - Published on
Format: Paperback
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a novelist, academic, medievalist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist who held academic positions at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. He wrote many other books, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, A Grief Observed, The World's Last Night, The Abolition of Man, The Great Divorce, God in the Dock, Christian Reflections, etc.

This posthumous 1967 book contains Lewis's letters to a "widow four years older than Lewis... [Who} Once financially independent... had fallen upon privation and... [had] serious family problems... Lewis arranged through his American publishers a small stipend for her... About the time the correspondence began she turned from the Episcopal Church to the Roman Catholic... She is a writer of reviews, articles, poems and stories." [By her own request, she was originally kept anonymous when the letters were published; we now know she was Mrs. Mary Willis Shelburne.]

He states in the second letter, "I believe we are very near to one another, but not because I am at all on the Rome-ward frontier of my own communion. I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than those who are on the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders of Christianity: how much more one has in common with a REAL Jew or Muslim than with a wretched liberalising, occidentalized specimen of the same categories." (Pg. 11-12)

He advises, "I don't think we ought to try to keep up our normal prayers when we are ill and over-tired. I would not say this to a beginner who still has the habit to form. But you are past that stage. One mustn't make the Christian life into a punctilious system of LAW, like the Jewish..." (Pg. 38)

He observes, "Two curious discoveries I have made. The moments at which you call most desperately and clamorously to God for help are precisely those when you seem to get none. And the moments at which I feel nearest to Joy [his deceased wife] are precisely those when I mourn her LEAST. Very queer. In both cases a clamorous need seems to shut one off from the thing needed." (Pg. 92)

He counsels, "Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? it means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? ... Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind." (Pg. 117)

These letters are more "personal" than many of Lewis's other writings, and will be of great interest to all fans of his writings.
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