Skip to content ↓

Book Review – Jack

Book Reviews Collection cover image

I have often expressed my love of biographies. I consider them to be among the most helpful of resources in helping equip Christians in their lifelong quest for Christ-likeness. We can learn much from the examples of those who have run the race before us. We can learn from what God taught them, learn from their triumphs and learn from the times they were defeated. I have a passion for biographies. I also have a passion for the English language. I love to see how we can use the language to craft works of art. I cannot express myself in the fine arts – music and art are both disciplines that escape me. But I consider myself a wordsmith-in-training. These two loves come together in Jack, a biography of C.S. Lewis written by a veritable master of the English language.

George Sayer had what was probably a unique privilege – he met C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien at the same time. He studied English under the tutelage of both of these men while at Oxford University. He became friends with Lewis, growing closer as they grew older. As a friend he provides a unique perspective on what is surely a unique individual.

I have never had the interest in and respect for C.S. Lewis that so many Christians afford him. Perhaps it is that I tend to see in black and white. Lewis exemplified some of the best and yet some of the worst in his understanding of Christianity. It seems that for every major doctrine he so brilliantly defended, there was another that he denied. For every brilliant insight there is a terrible oversight.

Jack provides a glimpse into Lewis’ life. This, combined with penetrating analysis from one who knew him well, makes this biography not only fascinating, but very credible. Sayer covers all of the foundational parts of Lewis’ life – the death of his mother, his education, his infatuation with Mrs. Moore and his conversion to Christianity. The author looks also at most of Lewis’ major writings. Having spent so much time with his subject, Sayer is even able to describe an average day in the life of C.S. Lewis – just the type of detail that is interesting, but is absent from most biographies.

The detail, while interesting and often even necessary, is sometimes almost uncomfortable. Sayers goes so far as to detail Lewis’ personal struggles with masturbation and fantasy as a youth, and his later fascination with his wife’s body. Yet he does this not merely for the sake of being explicit, but always to help us better understand Lewis. He seeks to help the reader understand Lewis not just as an author, but as a person. He wants to show Lewis in the good times as well as the bad. He seeks to show Lewis as he really was.

Thoroughly-researched and exquisitely-written, this is a brilliant biography of a figure whose importance to Christianity seems to be growing, even forty years after his death. With a major movie series coming to theatres beginning this year, we will surely hear a lot more about Lewis than ever before. While many biographies have been written about him, I would have trouble believing any could be better than this. No matter your opinion of the man himself, Jack, as a book, is a gem; a jewel; an absolute triumph.


  • Free Stuff Fridays (Coram Deo Pastors Conference)

    This week the blog and this giveaway are sponsored by the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. Dear brother pastor, In a spirit of prayerful expectation, I want to invite you to the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. This new event is hosted by Clearly Reformed (a new ministry I help to lead) and Christ Covenant Church (where…

  • The Kindness of God

    God’s Goodness in a Cruel World

    There is much to love and appreciate about our God, much for which we ought to give him praise and thanks. One of the attributes we may consider too seldom is his goodness, and as an aspect or component of his goodness, his kindness. And that is the subject of

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 23)

    A La Carte: Order, preparation, and the Spirit’s leading / Desecration at St. Patrick’s Cathedral / Why did God stigmatize the disabled? / Who would I be if I was happy? / 7 parenting errors that can influence adult children to leave the faith / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 22)

    A La Carte: Ice, wind, and unanswered prayers / Was it all a waste? / Prepping for the impending apocalypse / The best analogy for the Trinity / Getting to stop by woods on a snowy evening / Bible translation and AI / and more.

  • Like an iPhone

    Like an iPhone, Only Much More So

    Can I confess something to you? There’s one thing Aileen does that really bugs me. We will be talking together and enjoying one another’s company. But then, as we chat, I’ll hear the telltale buzz of her phone. And I can tell that I’ve lost her. I can see it in the look on her…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 21)

    A La Carte: When cultural tailwinds become cultural headwinds / Talking with kids about gender issues / Try to be more awkward / Life is more than mountaintop experiences / Tinder / Unpacking “separation of church and state” / and more.