Have you read: Adults will relish this C.S. Lewis book
March 20, 2006
“That Hideous Strength” by C.S. Lewis
In addition to his theological writings and books for children, C.S. Lewis is the author of several novels that reflect many of his insights and beliefs. “That Hideous Strength” is the third in a series known as the Space or Cosmic Trilogy, whose prequels are “Out of the Silent Planet” and “Perelandra.” All three books can be read separately despite the fact they are basically telling the same story; namely, the adventures of an obscure English scholar, Dr. Ransom, whose life is irreversibly transformed by a fortuitous accident.
“That Hideous Strength” gravitates around a house that reveals much more than it conceals. In the fascinating character of Dr. Ransom, readers of the “Narnia Chronicles” will find odd echoes of the shadowy professor in whose house Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy take refuge. The narrator in “That Hideous Strength” shows us through the eyes of a young couple, Mark and Jane Studdock, a plot that grows increasingly filled with meaning and significance. Mark and Jane make decisions that drive them into different worlds, where they begin to drift apart as a couple. Becoming more and more involved in their respective new discoveries, they begin to view their past and present in very different light. What seem to be ordinary issues faced by most marriages (career decisions, new job opportunities, the frictions that arise from change) are gradually transformed into a more subtle, deeper reality that will ultimately affect not only the characters’ lives but also the entire planet.
C.S. Lewis’ scholarly erudition is finely interwoven in the plot, as a medieval outlook of the universe (and particularly our Solar System) emerges from the novel’s engrossing structure. Ancient myths come to life in the midst of a post war sleepy village, as Merlin and the Pendragon meet again and a Company assembles in their wake. The age-old battle of Good and Evil arises in what the well-loved author of such diverse books as “The Screw Tape Letters” and “Mere Christianity” terms “a modern fairy tale for adults.” Anyone who has not forgotten the thrill that the words “once upon a time” sent down our childish spines will relish this tale. Unputdownable, colorful, gripping: a gratifying tour de force for grown-ups who enjoy a good story.
– Cynthia Smart is a sales associate at Neighbors Bookstore.