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Till We Have Faces

A Myth Retold
Written by: C. S. Lewis
Narrated by: Wanda McCaddon
Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

C. S. Lewis reworks the timeless myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction in this novel about the struggle between sacred and profane love.

Set in the pre-Christian world of Glome on the outskirts of Greek civilization, it is a tale of two princesses: the beautiful Psyche, who is loved by the god of love himself, and Orual, Psyche's unattractive and embittered older sister, who loves Psyche with a destructive possessiveness. Her frustration and jealousy over Psyche's fate sets Orual on the troubled path of self-discovery.

Lewis's last work of fiction, this is often considered his best by critics.

©1956 C. S. Lewis PTE, Ltd. (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

"In Mr. Lewis's sensitive hands the ancient myth retains its fascination while being endowed with new meanings, new depths, new terrors." (Saturday Review)

"Whenever Nadia May reads, a sensation of comfort creeps into the atmosphere. Her vocal clarity and understanding of the author's meaning bring pleasure and even security to the listening of each work." (AudioFile)   

"The most significant and triumphant work that Lewis has...produced." (New York Herald Tribune

What members say
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great story and amazing performance!

The story is very well thought and written, and the performance is very well done!

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  • Karen
  • 2012-07-26

Gripping, emotionally jarring, and elegant!

Would you consider the audio edition of Till We Have Faces to be better than the print version?

Yes. Contrary to my normal opinion, I was able to become more intrigued by and absorbed in the story as I heard it as if from the lips of an old traveling bard, spinning a web of a story for me in vivid detail and yet piercing opaqueness.

What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

Her depiction of Orual is unmatched. She is able to embody the hollow desperation of Orual's life, and the intensity of her love for Psyche, without making it overdramatic or cliche. Her distant and almost stern tones accurately convey the fear and pain Orual's endures, and her voice sounds sometimes harsh and human, sometimes fiercely metaphysical.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The scene in the forest when Orual finds Psyche for the first time after Psyche's sacrifice is particularly moving to me. The eeriness of the surreal situation sent shivers through my mind, and almost made me begin to question what was awake and what was dream, what was delusional imagination and what was hard reality. Orual's fearsome almost possessively protective love of Psyche was well portrayed in this scene as well.

Any additional comments?

I love this story, and the performance was superb!

60 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stephanie
  • 2010-07-07

One of a kind.

I could not rate this author, book, and narrator more highly. I own a hardback copy of 'Till We Have Faces' but I purchased this audio edition too! Adults who enjoyed C.S. Lewis' 'Chronicles of Narnia' or his 'Space Trilogy' will be carried away by this book. The story follows three sisters-- one ugly, one beautiful as a goddess, and one somewhere between the two. As their lives and fates unfold the author unveils human nature with a depth of perception that takes my breath away. One word of advice, if you prefer 'lite' reading this may not be for you. It is well beyond 'Twilight' and things of that nature. Reference my review list if you want to get a sense of what I like.

138 people found this helpful

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  • CECE
  • 2012-06-11

Excellent

Would you consider the audio edition of Till We Have Faces to be better than the print version?

Yes! It was much easier to follow the audio version, especially with Nadia May's vocal distinction of the characters.

Any additional comments?

I had listened to this book read from another source and this reading by Nadia May was far superior.

21 people found this helpful

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  • paul
  • 2012-07-09

Good beyond hope...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to everyone high school age and older. It's a book full of honesty and wisdom.

What other book might you compare Till We Have Faces to and why?

I would compare this book to The Lord of the Rings. It is a book about Western Civilization with the familiar Christian ethos and Greek wisdom. It isn't high adventure like LOTR, but the charactes are lovable and memorable.

Which scene was your favorite?

The best scene is when the protagonist has to stand before an almighty court and make her complaint against the gods. She realizes that her own will has been the thing that made what could have been a beautiful and meaningful life into a petty and difficult one.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Time for reflection is really helpful with this book. One chapter per night was good.

32 people found this helpful

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  • gen
  • 2016-04-05

strange but wonderful

I wasn't sure what to expect, but this was definitely not it. very deep and thoughtful analysis of love. I have many questions but this was well worth the listen. the best of C.S. Lewis I have read. he really knows how a womans lind works

13 people found this helpful

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  • Nancy L. Hanna
  • 2012-04-19

Profound!

The best retelling of the myth of Psyche and Eros I've ever heard! And the perspective! My what depth and insight! I saw a bit of myself in Psyche's elder sister and even recognized some of my own self-deceptions! An intense and introspective listen to this book could do away with shelves full of "self-help" guides and put many a marriage counselor out of business. Put yourself in the shoes of the eldest sister and see if you do not also see yourself in her plight...Be prepared, it could be a bit painful to become so quickly enlightened, shifts in paradigms can hurt a bit.

41 people found this helpful

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  • Steve
  • 2016-04-24

Extraordinary!

As usual when CS Lewis put pen to paper it becomes music to my ears. It's more than just reading a great story. It's more like he takes you on a great journey that unites your heart and mind.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Writingcooper
  • 2016-06-23

Lewis's best work

this is easily C.S. Lewis's best work of fiction. It is very well written and, as always, carries a great message. The narrator was absolutely perfect. She had a great voice of the protagonist,and did well for the other characters as well. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Adam Shields
  • 2011-05-31

An Unusual re-telling of a greek myth

I have never heard of this book before I stumbled across it on Audible.

According to Wikipedia and the book’s introduction, this was a book Lewis was thinking about from his early days in college. It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. (Although I had no idea what the myth was till after I read the book.)

The basic story is that a princess, Orual, raised her sister after the death of her step mother in childbirth. The sister, Psyche, was the most beautiful girl anyone had ever seen while Orual was very ugly. The sisters were separated and the younger sister was married to a God. But the Orual was convinced that the God was not real or that if there was a husband, it was actually a man that was wrong for her sister. She convinces Psyche to violate the conditions of the marriage and the God leaves. But Orual and Psyche are not reunited.


Orual, after living as Queen and ruling her country well for many years, writes a book of complaint against the Gods over her losses and bad treatment.



It is a well written and interesting story, but very different from anything else I have read of Lewis. While it clearly deals with religious themes and the concept of love, meaning and calling, it is not direct allegory like what some of Lewis’ other books are.

Obviously you do not need any background in the original Greek myths, since I did not know anything about them first. But you may enjoy it more.

32 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 2017-10-09

If this is all true, I’ve been wrong all my life.

The title is spoken by Orual, the ugly daughter of a mythical kinglet whose realm is supposed to lie somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Greece. And, in a way, they sum up the central theme of the book.

But rather than recapitulate the story or try to tell you what this novel is “about”—it’s so freighted with meaning that I’ll be living with it all for some time to come—I’ll suggest you look up a very good article by Lauren Enk Mann at Crisis Magazine. It is short, direct, and a little flat-footed, wrapping up as it does elemental mysteries that deserve more contemplation than elucidation. Nevertheless, after you’ve heard the book it would be a good place to launch your own contemplation.

To make the listening even more fruitful, listen first to Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. Till We Have Faces has its genesis in Lewis’ university days when, unsatisfied with the myth of Cupid and Psyche as told by Apuleius, he sought to recast it. Starting with an attempt in verse, the project preoccupied him for some 35 years. At the end of this recording (Till We Have Faces), Lewis offers a short but characteristically lucid exposition of his artistic aims and choices.

One of the choices he doesn’t discuss is his setting of the story in a pre-Christian, mythic, pantheistic past. Like Tolkien’s decision not to draw any parallels between the Lord of the Rings and the recent European war—and unlike T. H. White’s decision to draw those parallels in his Once and Future King—this liberates us, the listener (and, I suppose, Lewis the author). The polytheistic myth becomes a parable of sorts, a perfect vehicle to show what you and I must overcome within ourselves if we’re to more fully embrace the monotheistic reality of Abraham and Isaac, Peter and Paul.

Nadia May is superb, pitch-perfect in her portrayal of Orual, her fears, resentments, misunderstandings and final comprehension.

6 people found this helpful