I just finished this amazing book by a master Christian story-teller. I had read it a number of years ago, and I remembered the basic plot line except for the brilliant ending.
One of Lewis’s most fascinating proposals was that the ancient pagan myths, by embodying the deepest fears and longings of the human heart, point toward their perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In Till We Have Faces, Lewis reworks the Greek myth of Psyche to produce a tale that fits into none of the standard categories for novels. It is first interesting, then puzzling, then at the end incredibly and surprisingly beautiful.
Psyche was born divinely beautiful and destined to be married to a god, but this is really the story of her ugly sister, Orual, whose possessive love for Psyche threatens to destroy Psyche’s happiness. When Orual adopts a veil to hide her ugliness, we recall St. Paul’s reference to the veil that covers the faces of people who reject the gospel (2 Corinthians 4). Along the way we see the emptiness of those oh-so-sensible rationalizations that try to provide a psychological explanation for every encounter with the supernatural.
In some passages I sense the same mystery and wonder that I feel when the little otter meets Pan in Wind and the Willows or when Mr. and Mrs. Beaver describe Alsan to the Pevensie children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
I suppose this is not a book for everybody. (No book is, except the Bible.) But I suspect that there are many who will find that it exposes the ugliness of their own souls without leaving them in despair. We need to see the things in us that must die if we are to see the beauty of our God. Seeing him is the only way we can be transformed from Orual into Psyche.