"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Severe Mercy- book review

In case you weren't aware, I am an avid reader.  I am always reading at least 2 books most likely.  My favorite are books that make me think, if you can make me think via a fiction story even better.  So in honor of something I do often, I thought I would do posts on occasion as I finish a book.  Especially if it is a book that completely changed my thinking.

Enter in- A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  Jimmy gave me this book for Christmas.  It's actually one of his favorites and to say I love him all the more for his incredible book taste is an understatement. This book has it all:  true love (insert Princess Bride referencess...) faith, pain, deep thoughts.  It tells the story of how Vanauken and his wife, Davy, met and fell in love.  How they valued each other and sought to do everything they could to stay in love forever.  How they sought to live a timefull life.  (which aren't we all seeking that.)  Their love story can seem a little cheesy or intense at times, but unlike the notebook, its actually real ;)

Eventually they go on to Oxford, where they become friends with many Christians (they are not believers).  They discuss their amazement that Christians can be so scholarly and yet have faith in this God they cannot see or prove.  They decide to research Christianity from a scientific standpoint to try to understand why intelligent people can believe it.  Through this process Vanauken becomes friends with CS Lewis.  Davy, his wife, eventually does become a Christian.  And she grows in her faith rapidly, just all out love for her Father.  Vanauken does also become a Christian a little later, but always still more in love with Davy than God.

And then you see them grow in their knowledge and love of God while also struggling to reconcile their love for each other- and how God must be more important than their partner.  It's amazing and raw.

After a few years, Davy eventually becomes terminally ill.  Vanauken takes you through his intense struggle to understand why.  The observations he makes during this time are so profound.  The end of the book is littered with highlights from me.  I have such a new perspective on life and eternity thanks to this book.  See this quote below on the desire for the timeless.  It completely blew me away.

Towards the end you discover why he comes to view Davy's death as a Severe Mercy, from whence the title comes.  I won't tell you why because its so earth shatteringly profound, I'd hate to rob that from you.  But I will say this- if you have ever wondered why God could allow something utterly painful to happen to you, you may have experienced a Severe Mercy.  Read it!  One of the top 5 books I've ever read!


Danielle In The City said...

adding to my list. wish I'd have seen this before I left for DC the other day. I downloaded a cheesy fiction novel for my bus ride instead - entertaining but not thought provoking in the least.

Helene Smith said...

That looks like a wonderful book. I can't wait to download and read it!

Christy Willis said...

Wow! What a profound read! I've gotta read more! Thanks for sharing hun ;)

Christina (fivewalkers) said...

I popped over here from Miscellany Monday because of the title of your thumbnail. (That is a sentence that you never would have seen 60 years ago. :) )
I read this book fourteen years ago, I think, and I remember getting to the end while I was kind of babysitting (a 12-year-old whose parents were out of town, she was at a swim meet), and I had to put the book down every couple of paragraphs or else I was going to break out into the all-out ugly bawl. I should have put it away, but at the same time I couldn't not keep reading. I now want to read it again. You worded things well...it is certainly a book worth reading. Twice. :)

katie ridings said...

I love watching my little one sleep!! :)

Esther said...

This is one of my favorite books. I recommended it to my now-husband to read when we were in the very early stages of our relationship. I've always wanted to have the kind of relationship that Van and Davy had -- not sure I'm cut out for the total sharing thing, though. I tend to keep a lot to myself. Van's comments on the second death have haunted me for a long time. I tend to view a lot of my life through the lens of God's severe mercy towards me.

Anyway, I found your blog via Lily and Light. Just wanted to say hi!