Narrator: Robert Whitfield
Source: Sacramento Library (audio) + I own the print version
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pages: 160 (paper version)
Originally Published: 1945
Synopsis (back cover): C. S. Lewis takes us on a profound journey through both heaven and hell in this engaging allegorical tale. Using his extraordinary descriptive powers, Lewis introduces us to supernatural beings who will change the way we think about good and evil. In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis again employs his formidable talent for fable and allegory. The writer, in a dream, finds himself in a bus which travels between Hell and Heaven. In Lewis’s own words, “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven then we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”
Overall Impression: I’d picked up the print version of this at a library book sale a long time ago. I was hesitant to read it because I thought it was nonfiction and Lewis’s nonfiction requires more brain power than I usually have in reserve. But then I got a set of CS Lewis books on CD from the library, and The Great Divorce was one of them. It’s fiction! It’s fantasy! There’s a bus! And the suburbs! And angels! And ghosts! And it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I struggle to explain why and how much I loved Lewis’s descriptions of heaven and hell. Heaven is intensely real (so much it can hurt) and hell is…the suburbs. But it’s so much more than that. Lewis’s characters struggle with the same things we struggle with — intellectualism to the point that God can’t exist, selfish love that can end up detrimental, feeling like we’re “good enough” — all of our excuses for not loving and surrendering to God are in this book. This is my favorite book of the year so far — you’ve got to read it!
Positives: Everything. This is the perfect allegorical tale.
Negatives: I can’t come up with anything. I’ve seen others argue with his theology, but this is an allegory and a beautiful way to describe the emptiness of hell and the fullness of heaven.
Narration: Top notch. Whitfield brings The Great Divorce to life.
Other books I’ve read by CS Lewis:
The Silver Chair (review)
The Horse and His Boy (review)
Voyage of the Dawn Treader (review)
Prince Caspian (review)
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Magician’s Nephew
Till We Have Faces (review)
Other blogger opinions:
Stephanie Cowart: “…he is given a choice to continue on to heaven or go back to hell. Sounds like a simple choice but you have to see how the author describes both places. It will blow your mind.”
Word Lily: “It took much longer to read than its slight 160-page frame would suggest — it’s dense, not spun sugar — but I can’t hold that against it. It’s a book that made me think.”
Shelf Love: “Some of this work may seem dated to modern readers. Some of it, however, is ageless and beautiful, and also helpful to think about in a spiritual sense. It’s a short treatise on choice and on joy, lucidly written.”