“Once Upon a Wardrobe,” a fiercely imaginative and endearing novel, is Patti Callahan’s third in the historical fiction genre, following “Surviving Savannah” (2021) and “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” (2018). Writing as Patti Callahan Henry, she is also the author of 13 fiction novels, most set in the Lowcountry, where she lives part-time.
C.S. Lewis’ classic “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (the first book in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series), is at the center of this story about a bright and curious young boy who becomes completely immersed in the book and desperately seeks an answer to the question, “Is Narnia real”?
“I have often wondered about the time in C. S. Lewis’ life when he decided to start ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ the author said. “What was the origin story?” Thank you, Patti Callahan, for asking your question and for the imagining of this tale about the magic of Narnia.
Readers are introduced to young George, who is 8, mostly confined to his room with a serious heart condition that will shorten his life significantly. His older sister, Megs, has begun university studies at Oxford and it is Megs that George turns to for answers to the mystery.
Earnestly explaining to his sister his need to know, George says, “I’ve thought about this a lot and I think the world is held together by stories,” and “Just ask Professor Lewis, Megs,” he pleads.
Megs reads the book and understands clearly George’s impassioned request. The answers, however, do not come quickly or in straightforward fashion, and thankfully so. C. S. Lewis, with unhurried deliberation, walks Megs through the “story behind the story.”
There is so much to love in this book – George and Megs’ sweet devotion to each other, their parents who read the book and understand how much it means to George to find these answers.
And this sage observation by Megs, “And you’ve allowed me to see that we are enchanted not by being able to explain it all, but by its very mystery. That is – finally, that is – enough.”
“Once Upon a Wardrobe,” released Oct. 19, is a thoughtful gift for fans of C.S. Lewis and for anyone enchanted by stories and the unexplained mysteries in them. Perfect for readers of all ages from young children to adults, this tender tale will have you smiling as you turn that last page.
Get your copy at an independent book store near you or online at bookshop.org, and of course on Amazon or any bookseller.
Glenda Harris is a freelance writer and editor, nature lover and aspiring novelist.