This book was a struggle to start. But ultimately, so so rewarding.
I finished the book about a week ago after Paige’s recommendation, and I’m still processing it. I picked it up not because of the plot, but because it was written by CS Lewis. I’m a sucker for his work. But in case you’re the type that’s enticed by actual plot descriptions. Here’s my summary of the book’s basic plot (a very basic summary):
- Three sisters live with their widowed father, the king of a fictional kingdom which worships a great god. The three daughters are each very different: the eldest is pretty, but selfish and empty-headed, the middle daughter is hideous, but good-hearted, brave, and independent. And the youngest is breathtakingly beautiful. In fact, the kingdom believes that this youngest sister’s beauty has healing powers. Because of this, the goddess over the kingdom jealously demands that the youngest be sacrificed to her. The father complies and the ugly middle daughter, Orual, is horrified. When she hears that her beloved sister is not dead, but alive, she travels to see her. Orual is shocked by her sister’s state of living (which is effectively non-existent) and Orual demands that she return.
- Oddly enough, the youngest sister is content and even happily loyal to her captor and refuses to leave. Orual spends the rest of her life, long after the death of her father, ruling the kingdom and doing all she can to bring her dear little sister back from the horrid land of the gods — even if it is against her sister’s will.
Wow, and I tried to make that brief. Regardless, the message of Till We Have Faces isn’t revealed until the last 25 pages, but it’s worth discussing (written from Orual’s perspective):
“(My) complaint was the answer. To have heard myself making it was to be answered. Lightly men talk of saying what they mean…When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about joy of words…Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean?”
I’ll write that part again.
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years...you’ll not talk about joy of words…”
We must truly understand and be disgusted by our own depravity, our own selfishness — the type that lies dormant within our doubly wrapped, super-glued, duct-tapped and tightly sealed souls, before we truly know who God is and how we are to approach him.
On this day between Good Friday and Easter, that is something I’ve been thinking on.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the heart.