Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan
43/60 | Started 09.07.23 • Finished 09.16.23 | 4 stars
A novel with the premise of a young girl seeking answers from C.S. Lewis himself about the creation of Narnia? Yes, please! I found this to be insightful, whimsical, charming - everything you would expect from a novel set mainly in the cozy cottage of The Kilns, outside Oxford, England. As the story begins, the reader meets George, a young boy who was born with some kind of medical condition that means he won't live much longer. He spends most of his days laying in bed, reading and being read to. Meanwhile his sister Megs is a whiz at math and has earned herself a scholarship to Oxford.
"‘Reason is how we get to the truth, but imagination is how we find meaning.’"
When George discovers The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, his imagination runs wild. George insists that he must discover the origins of the story and enlists Megs to help him. She takes it upon herself to approach Mr. Lewis (almost) directly, and in charming fashion is welcomed into the fold at The Kilns, Mr. Lewis's residence, which he shares with his brother Warnie. Over the course of the novel, Mr. Lewis shares stories about his life during their meetings.
His sister can’t see what he sees, and she can’t hear what he hears, and that’s okay. Because she’s doing her best to turn facts into story, and he knows how to take it the rest of the way.
The narrative follows Megs as she travels back and forth between George and Lewis, relaying his stories as she has scribbled them in a her notebook. Lewis's life was packed with imagination and wonder, and it oozes from these pages. The writing is lovely and comforting. I do wish that more had been made of Lewis's conversion; it seems very subtly handled. But maybe that was the point. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to just about anyone.