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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

THE GREAT DIVORCE (audiobook) by C.S. Lewis

Originally Published in 1944-1945
Published by HarperAudio
Read by Robert Whitfield
Duration: about 3 hours.

First published as a newspaper serial in 1944-45, The Great Divorce is a fictional look at heaven and hell. The story is not so subtly built to be a vehicle for Lewis to discuss his major themes, including God's forgiveness, the pride of men and women who chose to remain in hell rather than accept heaven and the respect and power accorded to those with strong faith in heaven. 

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
This short book (160 pages in print, 3 hours as an audiobook) starts with the narrator riding a bus away from a disagreeable grey suburban town. The town is not really a bad place but its residents are all difficult in some way and they squabble and then move away from each other. 

Later, the reader learns that the grey town is purgatory or hell, depending on the person. From time to time a free bus comes to the town and its residents can ride to a new place, which turns out to be the outskirts of heaven. The people from the bus get out and are greeted from people they knew from earth but are now residents of heaven. They are implored to give up the things that are keeping them from heaven so that the can stay. Some do. Most don't.

The narrator visits different conversations and Lewis uses these as a chance to give some common arguments as to why the resident of hell should not have to repent. Some are funny (the nagging housewife is actually hilarious) and some are pathetic. 

I grew rather tired of the stilted back and forth format, found the descriptions of the residents of heaven off-putting and I think the whole story comes off as very heavy handed. Robert Whitfield's narration was strong and the variety of voices and accents were commendable but the book rated a mere 3 stars from me.

Reviewed on May 7, 2014.

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