Letters To An American Lady – Week in Books ’10 No. 8

As I mentioned earlier this week, I value writing and receiving paper letters so I enjoyed reading Letters to an American Lady this week. The book is a series of letters C.S. Lewis wrote to an unnamed woman in America. The recipient was evidently a writer as well and also aging as was Lewis, but there did not appear to be any romantic interest going on. The letters are not deep or about theology or writing craft or weighty subjects, but they do get at many things Lewis was thinking about and they do contain nuggets of information and wisdom that made the volume well worth reading in my opinion. Below are some of my favorite quotes:

It’s natural enough in our species, as in others, that the young birds should show off their plumage…but the trouble in the modern world is that there’s a tendency to rush all the birds on to that age as soon as possible and then keep them there as late as possible, thus losing all the real value of the other parts of life in a senseless, pitiful attempt to prolong what, after all, is neither its wisest, its happiest, or most innocent period.

What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattery of one’s self-importance…and by doing what “one’s station and its dueties” does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice.

It is so seldom the present and the actual that is intolerable. Remember one is given strength to bear what happens to one, but not the 100 and 1 different things that might happen.

The actual present is usually pretty tolerable, I think, if only we refrain from adding to its burden that of the past and the future.

People in real life are often so preposterous that one would not dare to put them in a novel.

I’d recommend Letters to an American Lady if you enjoy reading correspondence or are interested in C.S. Lewis.

I also had the pleasure this week of reading a draft of a friend’s literary novel. I enjoyed the editing and critiquing immensely because so often when I read I wish I could discuss the book with the author, and in this case I could do so. I think my friend found the process helpful too, and I look forward to being able to tell you all when the book is published.

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2 thoughts on “Letters To An American Lady – Week in Books ’10 No. 8

  1. I really appreciate your book reviews. I've gotten a lot of good tips coming from your direction. Thanks!

    I love C.S. Lewis, too – his writing invites you into his mind/emotion and always triggers some intense pondering for me.

  2. a. borealis – I'm so glad you enjoy the book reviews! It's a great exercise for me to keep a record of my reading, but I'm glad to know you like to read them too.

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