J. R. R. Tolkien never warmed to Joy Davidman, the woman his friend C. S. Lewis fell in love with and married. Looking at it from his point of view, it’s not hard to see why.
For decades, he’d watched “Jack” Lewis live almost a slavish life, working long hours as an instructor at Oxford, then going home to wait hand and foot on a selfish, small-minded old woman, Mrs. Moore, whom he’d promised a friend, her son, he’d take care of in case of his death in World War I.
But now, in the late 1950s, Jack’s indenture was over. The old woman had died. Tolkien had improved the situation by calling in personal favors to get Jack offered the chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, a position that would give him three times the salary, and half the work, of his old job at Oxford. Tolkien was confident that with all this new freedom, the pent-up energy of all those years of servitude would gush forth in a flood of scholarship and creativity. Jack would finally get the recognition he truly deserved.
Instead, like an earthquake, Joy Davidman happened. She brought with her complicated domestic troubles, financial woes, two nice but active young boys, and a hint of scandal. Then, to cap it all, she brought cancer, the disease that had already scarred Jack as a young boy, when he lost his beloved mother. Continue reading ‘Joy,’ by Abigail Santamaria