Monday, May 16, 2016

Out of My Bone: The Letters of Joy Davidman (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

Today is the third and final review for this month that will focus on Joy Davidman. The previous two reviews were for Yet One More Spring and A Naked Tree, and they dealt primarily with her poetry. Today, I am reviewing Out of My Bone, which like the other two titles, is also from William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Instead of focusing on her poetry, this book contains personal letters she wrote.

The book begins with a brief introduction on who Joy Davidman is, which I imagine you already know if you are interested in the book, and the context for the different periods of letters. There is also a brief chronology of Joy's life. I've read about her, but I didn't realize that she died at age 45. The first section of letters takes place from 1936 to 1946. The next section is primarily 1948, which is shortly after her conversion to Christianity. The most famous section in this book is "The Longest Way Round," which is an autobiographical essay. We then see letters after her divorce from William Gresham, and lastly there are the letters to C.S. Lewis, which are probably the main reason people would by this book.

I've read other books before that are a compilation of letters, and it always amazes me the amount of work that goes into tracking down and compiling these letters. It's a daunting enough task when the person is famous and people go to great pain to save the letters, but for someone less well-known, like Davidman, it's all the more impressive. Like other books of people's letters, I found myself wishing for the full correspondence. It's nice to read what Davidman wrote, but you wish you could read the letters she was replying to for more context. Reading through someone's letters is a very personal glimpse into their soul. You see them raw and as they were at their best and worst. Davidman's letters were not always flattering and didn't always paint her in the best light, but they were authentic. I always feel a bit conflicted reading someone's letters, because I don't think I would want people to read my letters or emails. However, if that doesn't bother you and you are a fan of Davidman and C.S. Lewis, then this is a book you will want to read. It's certainly not the best book on Davidman I have read (her poetry book was much better), but it serves its purpose and has its place.

This book was provided to me for free by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!