(Welcome to Inklings Week 2019! You can find all the posts here. Hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping by!)
Joining us today is the fabulous Katherine Reay! Her books are some of my favorites and I highly recommend them. Her upcoming, The Printed Letter Bookshop is one of my favorites this year!
Before we begin, I have a confession —it’s been a one note Inkling year. I can stretch it to two, as I rewatched The Lord of the Rings movies this year, but my focus has been primarily on C.S. Lewis.
It all started with a single line…
The present is the point at which time touches eternity.
He states this in his deceptively simple book The Screwtape Letters. I say “deceptively simple” because it is just as much that as it is a “diabolical satire.” I am always entertained at every line and think I understand — until I look deeper, and then I’m blown away.
First of all, it’s a pithy statement. It caught my attention on that level alone. Then I found its life altering truth: The past is behind us. We cannot change it and to live there, linger there, dream of returning there, keeps us from living in the present. We don’t have to carry it as far as Miss Havisham sitting amidst the decayed ruins of her wedding banquet in Great Expectations to get my point — the past can be a dangerous place to dwell.
What about the future? I took the line and parsed that direction as well. Lewis doesn’t mean not to plan for the future, after all, “The duty of planning tomorrow’s work is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present.” (Again, The Screwtape Letters) But to live in the future — again, danger. We can’t assume we have one and to dream that all will be roses and buttercups there only detracts us from the business of living here.
So what about the present? Now that was an idea — What would learning to live well in the present look like? And there you have it… Three women, a bookshop, a trial or two, a few mistakes, a few wrong turns and The Printed Letter Bookshop.
The Printed Letter Bookshop releases next week and I am so excited about this story, but this one line’s power over my year doesn’t end here…
As soon as I finished writing The Printed Letter Bookshop, my first nonfiction manuscript sold and this very line consumed me again. Awful Beautiful Life is Becky Powell’s story regarding an eighteen month period in her life. And this idea — living in the present — took on particular poignancy. You can read a little about the story below, but bottom line: Becky could not look back — the past held no answers and could drown her in a quagmire endless questions and anger, and she could not depend upon a future — the prospect of criminal charges and serving time in jail was real. Becky had to live in the present and take each day as God gave it to her — and I had to figure out how to write that reality and bring her story to life on the page.
Awful Beautiful Life releases December 3, 2019. As I said, it has been a Lewis year!
And it doesn’t end there…
I have had a wonderful time reading this year. As you can surmise from my writing, I spent a great deal of time in The Screwtape Letters. But, when looking back, I realized I spent more time reading about Lewis this year than reading his works. Here are a few to add to your TBR pile:
Becoming Mrs. Lewis — This wonderful book takes a close look at Joy Davidman and her marriage to Lewis. It gives beautiful insight into Lewis, his love for his wife and the literature they created together. I have always loved Till We Have Faces and now find the story makes more sense, in both content and style, as I understand Joy’s influence on its writing and editing. And what a fun book this is— what a wonderful love story they had!!!
How to Live Like A Narnian — This little guide walks one primarily through The Chronicles of Narnia and give hints on how to live one’s best life. It’s a short book and an absolute delight. Prior to this, I never realized the joy and wonder of King Lune from The Horse and His Boy. Pay attention when next you read The Horse and His Boy. He’s not a “throw away” character at all, but a true model of joy, duty, wisdom and affection. Again, Lewis is deceptively simple — he says so much in such a small character.
Planet Narnia — Wow! But I must warn you… You get more from this book once you’ve read all the Narnia books plus Lewis’s space trilogy — primarily That Hideous Strength. Once you’ve done that, pick this up and marvel in Lewis’s genius. The author, Michael Ward, has done his research and presents an incredibly convincing case for the binding thought and connection, the very meta-theme, running beneath all Narnia. It’s an extraordinary read.
The Horse and His Boy — This is the only Narnian story I returned to this year. While The Voyage of the Dawn Treader holds my favorite scene, this book holds my favorite line:
“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
Again — deceptively simple. After I chew on that one sentence for a while, it sure makes it hard to assume I know anything about another’s story or make judgements at all. 🙂
Thanks for letting me share my year with one Inkling with you today. This next year I plan to expand into the Inklings a little more. I recently bought The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings and can’t wait to dig in.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! We’ll keep this open through Sunday, 5/12. US residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Enter here for your chance the new Del Rey collection of THE LORD OF THE RINGS , “A Well Read Woman is Dangerous” sticker, and other fun surprises!
Also, here’s more about Katherine’s books. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop
One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt — and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.
While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn —and a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions – she questions her plans and her heart, and begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop. Yet, even working together, these three women may find their best efforts too little and too late.
The Printed Letter Bookshop is an engaging story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.
A gripping story of grace, faith, and triumph for a woman whose world
shattered hours after her husband’s suicide.
Rebecca Powell faced the unthinkable on May 13, 2013. Her husband Mark called and said, “I’ve done something terrible.” Within hours, she learned that he had taken his own life and, over a period of several years, millions of dollars from friends and colleagues. Everything she believed to be true, the very fiber of her marriage, was called into question. Within a week, rather than planning carpool runs and volunteer fundraisers, she owed almost one hundred creditors millions of dollars and had her own team of ten lawyers. She was also the subject of open FBI, SEC and DOJ investigations-and faced potential criminal charges. And, although she instantly denounced every cent of Mark’s $15M in life insurance and promised to repay every penny taken, her lawyers knew that in reality she faced years of court battles and lawsuits, and possible jail time.
Yet from that first horrific moment, God was there. He showed up in his Word, in Rebecca’s friends, in her lawyers and in the generosity of those around her. He worked miracles. CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and others covered the first moment, but what about the last? What about the story in which God gives your next breath because you can’t find it on your own? What about the story of a mom and three kids trying to make sense of their pasts, present and future while living under a microscope?
AWFUL BEAUTIFUL LIFE is Rebecca’s journey through the two years surrounding Mark’s death and how she overcame. It came down to a loving God who surrounded her, a present and dedicated family, and friends, who made her life, offered her sanctuary and showed up for her and her kids in tangible ways. This is a story of remarkable grit, strength and what the Body of Christ in action looks like.