After all, for Christian and unbeliever, there is but one spring of joy. -- Sheldon Vanauken
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken is the moving biography of the author and his wife - a tale of love, redemption, and grief. The book encompasses the couple's courting days and marriage, their education at Oxford, correspondence with C. S. Lewis and their "encounter with Light," Jean's illness and death, and Sheldon's period of grief. The book is beautifully written on several levels - the author's descriptions of their travels and experiences are often charming, thought-provoking and enlightening. And the intensity of love between this husband and wife is a beautiful shadow of His passionate love for us.
Amidst these pages is insight in the many specific ways in which they strengthened and guarded their relationship; logic and reasoning in their intentional study of Christianity and Lewis' letters of encouragement to them; joy in stimulating Oxford gatherings in an English flat and beauty-seeking adventures in the sea; comfort and grace found even in the midst of death; wisdom in Vanauken's lessons in grief and thoughts on eternity.
This book would benefit believers and unbelievers, newlyweds and widows, men and women. It is one that pricks the heart and makes you want to lean in closer to your loved one, closer to God. Highly, highly recommended. (And grab the tissues.)