cover image Once Upon a Wardrobe

Once Upon a Wardrobe

Patti Callahan. Harper Muse, $24.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7852-5172-9

Callahan (Becoming Mrs. Lewis) mines the life and work of C.S. Lewis in this enjoyable exploration of the power of imagination to see one through difficult times. In 1950 Worcester, England, eight-year-old George Devonshir, born with a weak heart, is often restricted to his bed, where he devours adventure and fantasy books. After he comes across The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, he asks his sister Megs, a student at Oxford, to ask C.S. Lewis, who is a don at her university, where the idea for Narnia came from. After being caught on Lewis’s property mustering up the courage to knock on the door, she’s invited into his home, where Lewis and his brother tell her the story of their lives. Lewis’s childhood, Megs learns, has many parallels with George’s: he was often ill and comforted himself with wildly imaginative stories. As Megs relates the stories to her brother, she comes to appreciate how fantasy and real life can interact in productive, beautiful ways. While Callahan’s prose verges on saccharine—nearly every page contains a reminder of George’s illness or his family’s devotion to his happiness—the heartfelt characters will win over sentimental readers. Callahan’s fans will love this. (Oct.)