Chance to Win JOY by Abigail Santamaria Before It Ships!

JOY bio - Win ThisGet a chance to win a copy of Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C. S. Lewis. This biography on Joy Davidman is the debut release by Abigail Santamaria.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENTER is simply leave a comment below about ANY fact OR question about Joy Davidman. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 6 p.m. EST.
*UPDATE: Only open to those living in the U.S. and Canada

FIVE random individuals from those who enter will be the winners! You will be notified by email, so leave an email address you check frequently (winners will receive a message from allaboutjackpodcast (at)

If you are one of the random winners you must reply within 48 hours of notification or another person will be selected.


  1. Jim Willis /

    I have a few biographies on C.S. Lewis. Would be interesting to read more about Joy. I know about her writing a letter to him, then coming with her son to the uk.

  2. Joy was named joint recipient with Robert Frost of the $1000 Loines Memorial fund.

  3. Tony Foglio /

    I’ve been to his home, I’ve been to the eagle and child, I’ve been to his church, I believe I’ve read every book he’s ever written. Looking forward to reading “Joy.”

  4. Doug Kay /

    Joy had two sons, Douglas and David. Is this true?

  5. Mark Roberts /

    Joy divorced her husband for infidelity. At least at first, C.S. Lewis was very uncertain about whether he could marry a divorced woman.

    • David Llewellyn Dodds /

      I’ve read detailed considerations of this, but cannot remember where, exactly. As I remember it, one point was that Bill Gresham had already been married once, and divorced, when he married Joy: was that earlier marriage still binding, in which case he could not have licitly married Joy and their union would be a nullity, and she simply free to marry.

  6. Mike Foster /

    I’m continually surprised by Joy.

  7. Joseph Kohm /

    Joy worked for six months as a screen writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1939.

  8. Winifred Sherman /

    Having read Joy’s letters in Out of the Bone (highly recommended), I think it might be interesting to now read a full biography of her.

  9. Winifred Sherman /

    I am not thinking straight this morning!! Her book of letters (ed. Don King) was Out of My Bone, and that title is taken from one of her fine poems, Yet One More Spring. I almost failed (which is why this addendum to my previous comment) to really speak about Joy herself!! Her letters sparkle with her wit and intelligence, which is of course what drew the Lewis brothers… Another point of interest is her period as a Communist, and then the draw to Christianity. (That book also has her written testimony, which sums up her story with the words, ” I think I must have been the world’s most astonished atheist…..My awareness of God was no comforting illusion, conjured up to reassure me about my husband’s safety. I was just as worried afterward as before. No; it was terror and ecstasy, repentance and rebirth. (p94)”

  10. I was surprised to learn of Joy’s winter living in Hollywood working on movie scripts.

    • Laura Selinsky /

      Another wonderful resource for my classes! In the past, my British Lit. students have often asked to write about Lewis during the biography unit. I am always delighted to direct them toward excellent resources like this book. Thanks!

  11. Barbara Meyer /

    I would love to see the “other side” of this wonderful love story!!

  12. I love the hint of a wry smile in the cover photo.

  13. As I recall when Michael Ward reviewed Joy’s letters in Books & Culture he said that he saw nothing blameworthy in Joy having come to England expressly to meet Lewis or even expressly in hopes of a romantic relationship with him, if indeed that’s what she did. This doesn’t seem to be a widely shared attitude, though it seems reasonable to me. I’m eager to read a biography of Joy from her perspective, in which I hope she will not be criticized for being a proactive agent in own life, including her romantic life.

  14. We are overdue for a solid portrait of Joy. This is especially true when many people’s notion of her is likely to be based in no small part on Debra Winger’s portrayal of her in “Shadowlands.”

  15. Steven Hecht /

    In the Hollywood version of The Shadowlands, Joy tells Lewis “you’d better be right Jack!”, at least that is how I remember it. Did she in fact say this?

    • William OFlaherty /

      I don’t remember the scene you are referring to, but many lines in most movies even based on real people are not exact quotes or statements by the person.

      • Steven Hecht /

        Well, sure, Perhaps you are right and not really worth it to ask. I actually love the line, know the darkness of this kind of illness in a spousal situation, so I was actually hoping there was some source material for it; it just resonates with me. And keeping faith through those circumstances.

  16. Don Johnson /

    What was remarkable to me was how Lewis’ friends were glad form him, all but Tolkein, it seems.

  17. James Ault /

    When did Joy Davidman first meet C.S. Lewis and in what context?

  18. cheryl drew /

    I have most of c s lewis’s books, and especially like to one by joy called “And God came in”!!

  19. Mary Mueller /

    I will be interested to know what the very best information is about when and where Jack and Joy actually met. I have read a little something about information indicating it was not when we have always thought it was.

  20. David Gillespie /

    Did Lewis ever comment on Joy’s previous communism?

  21. Ron Ecklebarger /

    How long were Jack and Joy married?

  22. Sarah Gillespie /

    What was Joy’s relationship like with her sons?

  23. Joy’s oldest son Douglas was born on November 10 1945; exactly 9 years and 364 days before I was born. : )

  24. sdorman /

    What were Joy’s contributions: how did she help CSL write /TILL WE HAVE FACES/?

  25. Jared Lobdell /

    I remember standing next to Bill Gresham and talking to him about C S Lewis at either the Washington Square or Eighth Street bookshop when I was first reading Lewis around 1951 — I believe Joy was with him I wish I could recall what she said (if it was Joy — he said his name; she didn’t say hers).

  26. Michelle /

    I know nothing about Joy but would love to read about her.

  27. Dianne mosley /

    The first book of Joy’s that I know of is “smoke on the mountain” about the 10 Commandments.

  28. David Llewellyn Dodds /

    Has Abigail Santamaria done much to follow up the details about Joy which John Christopher first wrote, and then expanded upon a bit when I interviewed him for the Wade Oral History collection?

    And (‘bonus question’), has she documented the various errors about Joy and Lewis included in the first edition of A.N. Wilson’s biography and then silently corrected in the later paperback (etc.)?

  29. Linda Chan Rapp /

    I love the epitaph Lewis put on Joy’s grave (adapted from a poem he had written earlier on the death of his friend Charles Williams):

    Here the whole world (stars, water, air,
    And field, and forest, as they were
    Reflected in a single mind)
    Like cast off clothes was left behind
    In ashes, yet with hopes that she,
    Re-born from holy poverty,
    In lenten lands, hereafter may
    Resume them on her Easter Day.

  30. Dan Speake /

    How Did judaism impact her faith?

  31. According to Brian Sibley (“C. S. Lewis: Through the Shadowlands”), Joy was the inspiration for Orual in Lewis’s “Till We Have Faces”.

  32. Joy was an amazing writer.

  33. Steve /

    So what books did Joy write?

  34. The story is told at the New York C.S. Lewis Society of when Joy’s brother anonymously attended a meeting about Joy and later identified himself. It was apparent that he was still upset about her conversion to Christianity. I understand that he was a New York psychiatrist. How many siblings did Joy have? Were her parents still alive when she married Jack? Are there any remembrances or writings of her family’s reaction to her Christian faith?

  35. How was Lewis’s relationship with Joy’s sons, and did the contact with Joy and her family change Lewis’s attitude to children?

  36. Jane Blackwood /

    Loved how she spoke her mind

  37. R Griffin /

    Why when you have two Christian people with their gifts do they not live in a real relationship with each other until she is diagnosed with a terminal illness?

  38. Lisa Horn /

    What was Joy Davidson’s life like before she began correspondence with Lewis?

  39. Walter K /

    Joy was only 45 when she died.
    I believe C.S. called her “H”, though I don’t know why.
    “A Grief Observed” connects us readers to the pain in his heart over her death.

    • Walter,

      Joy’s first name was Helen. The original publication of A Grief Observed was written under a pseudonym (N. W. Clerk) so that neither Lewis’ name nor Joy’s were revealed. “H” was used in place of Joy. In fact, many people in Lewis’s acquaintance did not at that time know that Lewis had married. Many more did not know if Joy until 1973 when the biography cowritten by Walter Hooper and Roger Lancelyn Green was published.

      -Bruce —

      • David Llewellyn Dodds /

        The late George Sayer once told me some interesting things he was going to include in his biography of Warren Lewis which concerned David – for instance, how Philip Roth helped Lewis find a good Jewish academic place in the U.S. for David to study. But I have not yet discovered what happened to that Warnie bio!

        There was a con artist who went around presenting herself as “Mrs. C.S. Lewis”! I interviewed Nell Berners-Price for the Wade Oral History collection about this, and how it tied into a friendship between her, Lewis, Joy, Douglas, and David. Perhaps Abigail Santamaria has included this delightful side story!

      • Walter K /

        Thank you. A very interesting explanation.

  40. David /

    When did Joy Davidman first meet C.S. Lewis?

  41. I’m excited to read this book! I wonder if it will talk more about David Greshem, the son we hear so little about.

  42. Having her own interesting conversion story, I’d love to read about how Joy became a Christian.

  43. William OFlaherty /

    SORRY FOR THE LATE UPDATE – The book can only be shipped to U.S. or Canadian addresses! This is a rule set by the publisher, who is shipping the book.

  44. HI William,

    Hope you are doing well.

    I would like to know more about her novel “Anya”. Is it still in print? Where would one go to obtain a copy of it?

  45. Fascinating woman. I’d love to know more about her

  46. Christina /

    I’m interested to read this book and find out more about Joy in her own right. I enjoyed the movie Shadowlands, but that really only focused on the part of her life that involved Lewis.

  47. Leslie /

    Joy’s cancer in her 40s probably came from radium she wore around her neck to “cure” a childhood thyroid condition.

  48. Suzanne /

    I find it interesting that C.S. Lewis in his autobiography describes seeking “Joy” (capital J) as his lifelong quest for meaning. Did he ever comment on the coincidence that the woman he eventually fell in love with and married shared the same name? It reminds me somewhat of Ransom’s epiphany in Perelandra that his name was determined in time past to fit him for his mission.

  49. I’ve long been fascinated by the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. Many years ago I was able to read many of Joy’s letters to Bill Gresham that she wrote while married to C. S. Lewis when I was at the Wade Center. These were some of the letters which were quoted in Lyle Dorsett’s biography. I also visited the Oxford Crematorium and saw the plaque with the beautiful verse that Lewis composed for it.

  50. George Musacchio /

    Was the public registry office at which Jack and Joy were married in 1956 closer to the Eastgate Hotel (where they met)or to the Eagle and Child (where they drank)?

  51. Sarah Thomson /

    Chad Walsh, who wrote one of the first books about C.S. Lewis (C.S.Lewis, Apostle to the Skeptics), knew Joy.

  52. Katie Bray /

    I’m curious the learn about her conversion to Christianity? What early life experienced influenced her to be an atheist?

  53. Such delightful irony that Lewis’s love should be Helen Joy.

  54. Ron Ratliff /

    She and Lewis played Scrabble in different languages.

  55. Julie /

    I am fascinated that Lewis married late in life and want to know how it impacted both Joy and Clive. So excited for you, Abby, that your book is being published and can’t wait to read it!

  56. Alison /

    Can’t wait to read about Joy! Know lots and have read lots from CS Lewis but would like to hear about her!!

  57. William OFlaherty /



  58. Karole (with a K) Davis /

    Where did she get her name, Joy?