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Once Upon a Wardrobe Paperback – 3 November 2021
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Indie Next Selection ^ Buzz Books Selection ^ POPSUGAR “Best New Books of October” ^ CountryLiving “Best New Books for This Fall” ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution “10 Must Read Southern Books This Fall” ^ Booklist Queen “Most Anticipated”
From Patti Callahan, the bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis, comes another enchanting story that pulls back the curtain on the early life of C. S. Lewis.
“Where did Narnia come from”
The answer will change everything.
Megs Devonshire is brilliant with numbers and equations, on a scholarship at Oxford, and dreams of solving the greatest mysteries of physics.
She prefers the dependability of facts—except for one: the younger brother she loves with all her heart doesn’t have long to live. When George becomes captivated by a copy of a brand-new book called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and begs her to find out where Narnia came from, there’s no way she can refuse.
Despite her timidity about approaching the famous author, Megs soon finds herself taking tea with the Oxford don and his own brother, imploring them for answers. What she receives instead are more stories . . . stories of Jack Lewis’s life, which she takes home to George.
Why won’t Mr. Lewis just tell her plainly what George wants to know The answer will reveal to Meg many truths that science and math cannot, and the gift she thought she was giving to her brother—the story behind Narnia—turns out to be his gift to her, instead: hope.
Praise for Once Upon a Wardrobe:
“I advise you to read this book, then wait for a while and then read it again, for while it may not be Narnia, there is magic in it.” —Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson
- New York Times bestselling author
- Also by Patti Callahan: Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah
- Includes discussion questions for book clubs as well as a note from Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson
Frequently bought together
'This beautiful and soul-touching book is about death and dying, but it also reminds us that new chapters remain for those of us who are left behind.' ― Historical Novel Society
'Full of magic, nostalgia and a sister's love, Coben calls this novel 'a love letter to those of us obsessed with C.S. Lewis's Narnia series.'' ― TODAY
'Patti Callahan's powerful and captivating new novel ponders how the events in C.S. Lewis' life, particularly his childhood, inspired him to create the magical and mythical world of Narnia and the cast of characters inhabiting it . . . Readers will reach for it again and again, eager to be reminded that love will prevail and imagination leads people down fantastical paths. Some books are read and forgotten soon after; others linger forever in one's mind, popping up from time to time when something relevant sparks the memory. ONCE UPON A WARDROBE is certainly the latter and will be cherished by anyone who reads it.' ― BookReporter.com
About the Author
- Publisher : Harper Muse AU; ITPE edition (3 November 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 140023283X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400232833
- Dimensions : 13.9 x 1.9 x 21.3 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 18,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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I enjoyed the book, although it isn't the kind of book I would have picked up on my own. I did find it interesting that there were connections between the ideas in this book and a fantasy series that I have just finished re-reading, and I made lots of notes.
Of course, any story where Lewis is part of its fabric, will always include his best friends Tolkien and Williams. And rightfully so, as they were all members of The Inklings literary group, who gathered in a pub for creative sparring, editing and sharing of works and ideas. Keen C. S. Lewis fans will also know that George MacDonald’s novels caused such a ‘baptism’ of Jack’s imagination that it changed him forever. To see these wonderful elements of Jack’s history woven into Once Upon a Wardrobe adds even more weight to an already powerful framework.
Once Upon a Wardrobe sparkles with the same imagination as the C. S. Lewis classic and is just as inspiring, gripping, thoughtful and brilliant in its delivery of truth. This is a must read for those who love Jack’s stories but it will also make new converts of those who have not yet indulged in his works. For after reading Once Upon a Wardrobe, new readers will want to delve into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, out of pure curiosity. For Patti paints such a vivid picture she sparks fresh interest in this man and his works.
It is a heart shaking story that centres on a young sick boy, George, and his math genius sister, Megs. We quickly learn that love for her brother drives her to great lengths to give him what he wants: an answer to a very important question: ‘Where did Narnia come from?’ The pathway they must follow to achieve a fulfilling answer sends them on a life-changing journey they will never forget: much like Narnia’s Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter.
George is a child of the heart. We could hug, hold, listen to and watch him forever. He has a special gift and a wisdom that astounds even Megs for he has been blessed with an understanding beyond his years. He possesses a depth of vision that is not of this world. This gift also serves another purpose. But knowing he has a terminal illness and that death looms on the horizon, breaks our hearts along with Meg's. She doesn’t want her beloved brother to die and she doesn’t want her chats with Jack to end. For one may affect the other. And as for George, although his spirit is strong, he does ponder one thought: is there a life beyond the wardrobe, beyond this earthly vale? He knows Narnia is a work of fiction but has learned from Jack that fiction can reflect a truth.
Which leads me to the next point: the power of stories. Once Upon a Wardrobe shows the creative process all artists must take. And Patti’s method is pure genius in showing how the imagination delivers truth – how an author’s collection of memories (both real and imagined) are sewn together to create fiction. Here fact is distilled, and spirit and soul (mind) meet, to create on such an elevated level, that it transports the reader to another realm. To a place where vision is sharpened to receive and reflect the divine. But it isn’t all about fantasy. This excursion stretches our hearts and prepares us for the real world. Like dipping our empty glass into a bubbling brook of spring water. We need to drink to renew our parched bodies. To gain strength to endure and to view with fresh eyes. Then like those in Narnia, we will feel the warmth of the fire and see the twirl of the smoke, as inspiration springs out of the flames into our hearts. For stories take us to a place of magic, where belief awakens and enchants – so that miracles can erupt from the winter of regrets and loss—allowing us to heal.
Patti’s story (like Jack’s) awakens in us the magic of wonder that sometimes gets lost in the happenings of life. But if we listen closely for the Lion’s voice, we can hear both his valiant roar and his gentle whispers: just like Jack and his Narnia characters, and Megs and George.
Can I praise this novel ever too much? Never. It is so beautiful there are no words great enough to express the emotion I felt and the inspiration I experienced. It was like stepping into Narnia all over again. I could feel the snow drifting down around me, the long warm fur coat draping across my legs, and a faun meeting a human for the first time.
There is no better moment than now to read such a book: especially since our world has been thrust into great darkness and loss. Much like Narnia—really. So even more we need stories of hope and magic. I am reminded of my son as a little boy. We would read the Narnia stories on the saddest and darkest of days. Days when bad things had happened. Aslan would always lift his spirit and put a smile back on his face. Mine, too, once we entered that enchanting realm of Narnia through Jack’s words. And when my daughter was born, she entered that same magical world. It had an effect on her creative abilities, too. For that is what magical stories do. They flow on and on—inspiring and elevating us.
Everyone needs to get this beautiful book because Once Upon a Wardrobe will quicken your dreams, set your heart on fire and help you believe again—if you’ve lost your way—and even if you haven’t and Narnia is a familiar domain for you—you will be happy its fairy-true charm has been passed on to other authors like Patti, today, for us to enjoy. Once Upon a Wardrobe is a fresh take on an age old magic. This book gets an infinity rating from me. For the stars cannot measure it. 5+ Stars.
Many thanks to HarperMuse and Netgalley for a copy to review. And to Patti Callahan and C. S. Lewis for reminding us we are never too old for fairy-tales.
I loved this novel so much, that after reading the digital version from the publisher, I bought my own paperback version from Amazon.
Megs is sitting on the fence of the famous author’s property called the Kilns in Oxford, and she wonders how can she approach him, and ask C. S. Lewis her brother’s question? She has no idea, that Jack and Warnie Lewis are the kindest of men, they invited Megs in for afternoon tea and she explains her situation. Jack Lewis shares with her stories about himself and his brother growing up as young boys in Ireland and she shares these with George.
Both Megs and George are given a gift, where a world of make believe, fairy tales, books and drawing, brings hope to a young boy, who's only months away from death, and peace to his sister who doesn’t know how she can go on without him. Once Upon a Wardrobe is a delightful story, about the love between siblings and you find wonder in the natural world, castles and in between the pages of a book. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and five stars from me.
Top reviews from other countries
She plucks up the courage to ask him and he doesn’t tell her in so many words – instead, he regales her with stories of his childhood, which she writes down and takes back to her brother. In the process, she learns more about herself than she realises.
It’s a coming of age story (for Megs), and a tender tale of the loss her family knows is coming, and have to learn to face up to. It was fascinating to learn more about CS Lewis in such an entertaining format, and the author is clearly deeply invested in the life and works of one of our most prized scholars.
I only had one gripe, but it was like a splinter under a fingernail – impossible to ignore (especially as the word showed up so often because Megs was studying mathematics). British people do mathS. With an S. Not math. We certainly never say ‘math’. I appreciate the author is American, I also appreciate how difficult it is to get everything culturally correct (what even is a ‘stoop’?) and on the whole she did a relatively good job. But it would have been nice if the publishers had asked an English person to read the manuscript during the editing process, to point out the differences.
All in all, though, this was a lovely book, perfect to read on a wintry December day.
This was a wonderful novel that explores the power of storytelling and its ability to inspire and bring hope.
1950, Worcester. Eight-year-old George Devonshire has a heart condition and only has a short time to live. He has become captivated by a new book titled ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. He bombards his older sister, Megs, with questions about where Narnia came from.
Megs is a scholarship student at Oxford studying mathematics. In order to help her brother she tentatively approaches the famous author and his brother and implores them for answers. They agree, though what she receives over a series of meetings are stories about Jack Lewis’ life. She returns home and relays these stories to George.
This was a beautifully crafted novel that I found deeply moving. I was transported back to my own childhood when I first read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and had dreamt of finding a secret door into Narnia.
It is a novel that is heartwarming and uplifting yet does not shy away from exploring loss. Just perfection.
studying maths at college, uh I mean Oxford University. I could go on and on. You will hate it if you are from Britain and like to read literature otherwise you may enjoy it.
the questions and faith of young George stirred an already strong faith within me. I never wanted that book to end. What a Lovely heart you have, Patti Callahan