Book Review: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

Rating: 5/5 stars

Published: 1945

Synopsis: In "The Great Divorce," C.S. Lewis's classic vision of the Afterworld, the narrator boards a bus on a drizzly English afternoon and embarks on an incredible voyage through Heaven and Hell. He meets a host of supernatural beings far removed from his expectations, and comes to some significant realizations about the nature of good and evil.

Even though it’s quite short, The Great Divorce tackles lofty subject matter in a refreshing way. In this text, Hell isn’t the realm of fire and brimstone depicted in scripture; it’s a dull, gray city featuring average souls with very human problems. While a few lucky souls get to venture to Heaven for a time, they still have a degree of separation from all that it offers.

When the narrator initially arrives in Heaven, he describes himself and the other visitors as “Ghosts” since they are transparent and unable to change the environment around them. Most of the book consists of the narrator listening to the permanent residents of Heaven (called “Spirits”) attempting to convince the Ghosts to turn away from Hell and accept the Gospel into their lives.

Although it seems as though this text is implying that souls in Hell have a chance of redemption, I interpreted the stories within this book to be allegories of how we on Earth tend to struggle with the battle of our will versus God’s. As a Christian, I found The Great Divorce to be a poignant way of reiterating that God’s love is always available to us, even when we are blind to it.  Lewis does a phenomenal job of taking difficult, abstract concepts of Christianity and describing them in a concrete (but not necessarily simple) way. If you’re looking to dip your toes in religion and philosophy, this book is definitely necessary to add on your reading list!

Thanks for reading,

Indoor Sojourner