Till We Have Faces

Opening line: ‘I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of the gods.’

Orual is the eldest daughter of the King of Glome, a small country somewhere in the Mediterranean. In this complaint against the gods, she writes how the gods have wronged her by stealing away the most beautiful, most beloved thing she had in the world: her youngest sister Istra, also called Psyche. Orual recounts the history of Glome and her place in it. In the process of telling her story, Orual discovers that the past isn’t quite what she thought it was, and that the gods can speak for themselves.

Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C. S. Lewis is a retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth. I knew as much when I began reading it; even so, I was taken by surprise that the central character was not Psyche herself, but one of her sisters. I was fascinated by how a myth I knew so well was retold in an interesting, fresh new way. This is one of those novels that, without you realising it, grips you and keeps you reading. Not necessarily because you want to find out what happens next, but because you care about the characters. This is, perhaps, the best fiction I have read by Lewis. It had been on my radar for several years now and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

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