Wednesday, February 04, 2009


The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis has been one of my must finish books for years now.  I always get about halfway through before I inevitably put the book down because it's too dry/too serious/not what I really want to read.  This time though, I managed to push through those feelings, in part because I finally get dry, British humor.  (Thank you, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet, for Good Omens.)

The Screwtape Letters are just that, a series of letters from Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew, Wormwood, on how best to corrupt Wormwood's charge.  It's a very short book, only 172 and that's including three prefaces and an epilogue.  Again, it comes across as a very dry book, but the humor is there, although so very British that it's easy to see why I missed it at ages seventeen, twenty, and twenty-three.  Screwtape is full of wisdom and knowledge on how best to tempt humans to their side, and how to fix things when Wormwood screws up and his charge leans more toward the "Enemy's" side.  I enjoyed reading this book, not just because I'm looking to expand my reading list or because I want to read more Christian literature, but because it was an interesting and thought-provoking read for me.

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen was another novel that I'd wanted to read for a few years but had never gotten around to starting.  Half of me is sorry I waited so long, while the other half is just happy that I read it, because damn.  This book was not what I expected, but so much better.

Fran Benedetto has just left her abusive, cop husband after years of being abused; she's grabbed their son and has fled via the underground railroad that's been set up for battered women and children.  Ending up in Florida, Liz (as Fran is now called) does her best to get on with her life, but it's hard, so hard, because she knows that Bobby is never going to let them go.  She's always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the phone to ring, for Bobby to be at the door.  

It's a gripping, compelling, time-stopping read and I was always mad when I reached my stop because I had to get up and stop reading!  Fran/Liz's voice is great, always jumping back and forth from the here and now to the then, as she remembers things from her past, or stops herself from thinking about them.  There are twists in the novel that I didn't see coming (although I think that with a second read I would) and the ending is not what you expect.  It's not a happy novel, but it's a gripping one, and I highly recommend it.


Elena said...

I've enjoyed the Screwtape Letters a couple of times although it's been a few years since I read the book. One thing though, I found that I didn't enjoy rereading as much, I think because the surprise was so much of the story and that was gone.

Of course, it might be different now as it's been a while since I read the book. At any rate, it's my favorite of Lewis's works.

hayden said...

True, I think knowing for a fact how the book would end might take away some of the enjoyment (although I did suspect that Wormwood would lose), but I think I might read it again in a few years. By then, I'll have forgotten some of it and I can let myself enjoy Lewis's very dry humor again.

I'm going to read Mere Christianity next.