8th read: Till We Have Faces

I began reading this one months ago to help a dear friend (Amelie) taking a C.S. Lewis class, but I took a break and read it for pleasure instead.

I didn’t even know this book existed before!

I’m not unfamiliar with C.S. Lewis: I grew up reading Narnia (my partner & I love The Magician’s Nephew) and even read The Weight of Glory in 2020 to understand his religious perspective better. It’s a mystery how Till We Have Faces and managed to escape my gaze for so long.

This retelling of Psyche’s myth helped me rediscover C.S. Lewis with childlike wonder. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been made aware of its existence.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


Till We Have Faces


C.S. Lewis








Retelling, Legend & Myth, Fantasy, Christian


In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who possessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love himself, setting the troubled Orual on a path of moral development.

Set against the backdrop of Glome, a barbaric, pre-Christian world, the struggles between sacred and profane love are illuminated as Orual learns that we cannot understand the intent of the gods “till we have faces” and sincerity in our souls and selves.

Highlight: I am old now and have not much to fear from the anger of gods. I have no husband nor child, nor hardly a friend, through whom they can hurt me. […] Being, for all these reasons, free from fear, I will write in this book what no one who has happiness would dare to write. I will accuse the gods, especially the god who lives on the Grey Mountain. […]


14 july 2022


3 jan 2023



Writing Quality:















This was my favourite C.S. Lewis book I’ve ever read. It spoke to me directly.

I don’t have the words to describe Orual. I often complain about the lack of unattractive protagonists in fantasy, so she felt like an answer. She was smart, strong, morally grey… I loved when she began wearing the veil. I loved when she picked up her sword. I wanted to have her. I wanted her to love me with the same fierceness she loves Psyche.

I had some apprehensions towards the ending, but they were all proven false. The faithful and the faithless women are punished and loved equally by the gods.

Ungit (Aphrodite) was terrifying. I wanted her to love/devour me. Maybe it’s truly one and the same.

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6 responses to “8th read: Till We Have Faces”

  1. A vintage Dutchman Avatar

    If I’m correct, Lewis considered this one of his better works, but was dissapointed that it was read so little. It sounds really interesting!


    1. ReadRenard Avatar

      I can definitely see why he thought it was one of his best works!

      This book changed my whole perspective on Lewis. I always thought our personalities were too different for me to enjoy him fully. Some of his treatment of women in the Narnia series frustrated me, but he redeemed himself completely. Orual was so strong. I loved her. If you gave me this book with the author’s name censored, I would have never guessed it correctly.

      It’s also the last book he wrote, so I think it shows the growth he experienced as he aged.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A vintage Dutchman Avatar

        It was published in 1956, which is 3 years after Lewis met Joy Davidman, his future wife. I think she really influenced his stance on women, but before that Dorothy Sayers was someone he considered a good friend and intellectual equal. So this book might reflect some of that. There are indeed some lesser parts in Narnia about women, although I think he intended to write something more about Susan later, but didn’t get to it, so it was left hanging.
        Glad to hear this book brought such a change in perspective. I disagree with Lewis on plenty of things, yet I feel a deep connection to him, in spite of our differences. He was a remarkable man and although he definitely wasn’t perfect, his intentions later in life often were! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ReadRenard Avatar

          After this book, I definitely feel a deep connection to him as well. And respect!

          My grandma was born in 1950 & I really wish she had the chance to read this type of book as a girl. It might have helped her feel powerful in her womanhood. Instead, she limited her ambitions and made herself small because “it was unthinkable for a woman to be anything other than a teacher or secretary.” She made herself subservient to a man who did not value her & left her for another. Just yesterday, she told me she would have loved to become a writer but “who was I? I was nobody, just a woman”

          It’s important for girls to read about strong women. It really helps to cultivate a sense of self-worth. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Orual never marries, never has children. She rules as Queen and fights men with swords. I think she’s an uncommon character for the time, which makes it even more impactful.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A vintage Dutchman Avatar

            Glad to hear it! I really need to read this one as well!
            Wow, it would have been a possibility for your grandma to have read it, given the time frame. And it sounds like it would have benefitted her. What a hard life she has lived then, strange to think it wasn’t that long ago that these damaging thoughts were quite common.

            Lewis really saved a special idea for his last book, then!

            Liked by 1 person

      2. A vintage Dutchman Avatar

        Also, I just read that Orual was based on Joy Davidman, and he often asked her for her opinion. So she really did influence him a lot here!

        Liked by 1 person

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