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Truth & Beauty

Truth & Beauty

Written by Ann Patchett

Narrated by Ann Patchett


Truth & Beauty

Written by Ann Patchett

Narrated by Ann Patchett

ratings:
4/5 (92 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 27, 2004
ISBN:
9780060782733
Format:
Audiobook

Description

The author of Bel Canto -- winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize and long-running New York Times bestseller -- turns to nonfiction in a moving chronicle of her decades-long friendship with the critically acclaimed and recently deceased author, Lucy Grealy.

What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when that person is not your lover, but your best friend? In her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett shines light on the little-explored world of women's friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and after enrolling in the Iowa Writer's Workshop began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work. In her critically acclaimed memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about the first half of her life. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life but the parts of their lives they shared together. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans 20 years, from the long cold winters of the Midwest to surgical wards to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs and despair, this is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty and about being lifted up by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.

Publisher:
Released:
Jul 27, 2004
ISBN:
9780060782733
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

ANN PATCHETT is the author of eight novels, four works of nonfiction, and two children's books. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the PEN/Faulkner, the Women's Prize in the U.K., and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Dutch House, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. TIME magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books.


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What people think about Truth & Beauty

4.1
92 ratings / 62 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    Good. Touching memoir of a deep friendship.
  • (3/5)
    I'm struggling to verbalize why I gave this book three stars, considering the fact that I didn't like it very much.

    The story is interesting, sure. Lucy Grealy had cancer as a child, and as a result, had her jawbone removed and endured many, many reconstructive surgeries. I guess that's what kept me reading the whole time - wondering what would happen to her. I had never heard of Lucy before reading this book, so I didn't know what her cause of death would be. I assumed it would be somehow related to the cancer, or that there would be complications during one of her many surgeries.

    I don't know how much of this book really was true. I hope that most of it was, because honestly, Lucy Grealy did not come across as a likable person. So either she really was that awful, or Patchett spent an entire book making her best friend sound a whole lot worse than she really was. I hope it's the former. It seemed obvious to me that Lucy had numerous psychological issues; I am not a doctor, but she should have been in therapy at a very, very young age. Her clinginess and neediness were off the charts, and she engaged in self-destructive behavior constantly.

    But then you have to ask yourself how anyone could have gone through what Lucy did and not be completely screwed up.

    I guess that after reading this book, I feel torn and worn out. I feel so sorry for Lucy because of what she went through, and I feel sorry for the friends that she seemed to have taken advantage of. I'm sorry that her family had to see Lucy's life end the way it did, and that they had to deal with the publication of this book.

    And like, seriously though, Lucy seemed REALLY messed up. Like, to a ridiculous degree. She just seemed awful. I was so angry at her during most of the book. As I've said before, I think I should probably just stay away from memoirs.
  • (3/5)
    I'm struggling to verbalize why I gave this book three stars, considering the fact that I didn't like it very much.

    The story is interesting, sure. Lucy Grealy had cancer as a child, and as a result, had her jawbone removed and endured many, many reconstructive surgeries. I guess that's what kept me reading the whole time - wondering what would happen to her. I had never heard of Lucy before reading this book, so I didn't know what her cause of death would be. I assumed it would be somehow related to the cancer, or that there would be complications during one of her many surgeries.

    I don't know how much of this book really was true. I hope that most of it was, because honestly, Lucy Grealy did not come across as a likable person. So either she really was that awful, or Patchett spent an entire book making her best friend sound a whole lot worse than she really was. I hope it's the former. It seemed obvious to me that Lucy had numerous psychological issues; I am not a doctor, but she should have been in therapy at a very, very young age. Her clinginess and neediness were off the charts, and she engaged in self-destructive behavior constantly.

    But then you have to ask yourself how anyone could have gone through what Lucy did and not be completely screwed up.

    I guess that after reading this book, I feel torn and worn out. I feel so sorry for Lucy because of what she went through, and I feel sorry for the friends that she seemed to have taken advantage of. I'm sorry that her family had to see Lucy's life end the way it did, and that they had to deal with the publication of this book.

    And like, seriously though, Lucy seemed REALLY messed up. Like, to a ridiculous degree. She just seemed awful. I was so angry at her during most of the book. As I've said before, I think I should probably just stay away from memoirs.
  • (4/5)
    This memoir is a great testament to true friendship. Being a true friend is not always easy, but we do it because of the deep love we have for that person. Ann and Lucy's relationship was filled with love through some truly tumultuous times and events. We all want to be able to save the ones we love, but sometimes they can not be saved or may not want to be saved. I will suggest this book to many. A perfect book for book clubs.
  • (4/5)
    Whether "Truth & Beauty," Ann Patchett's memoir of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, another writer, makes her look like a saint or a fool readers must decide for themselves. But then saints often look like fools, and fools, if you watch the movie "Being There," sometimes look like saints.Patchett and Grealy went to college together but didn't actually become friends until they both showed up at the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1985, Patchett an aspiring novelist, Grealy an aspiring poet. They ended up sharing an apartment together and becoming devoted friends. The friendship continued for nearly two decades, even after Patchett settled in Nashville and Grealy, an Ireland native, moved to New York City.Yet it was never an equal friendship. From the beginning Patchett was the giver and Grealy the taker.Grealy, who died from a drug overdose at the age of 39, underwent nearly 40 operations in her short life because of a facial disfigurement caused by cancer of the jaw. Even though her vibrant personality resulted in more friends and lovers than most other women could imagine, she became dependent upon Patchett to reassure her constantly that, yes, she was loved and, however her ever-changing face happened to look at the moment, she would have sex again.At one time Grealy was the more famous of the pair. "I was famous for being with her," Patchett writes. Her friend wrote a fictionalized memoir called "Autobiography of a Face," which became a best seller and led to television interviews in which she wowed audiences. But then, despite a handsome book contract, she could write nothing, while Patchett began turning out one novel after another, beginning with "The Patron Saint of Liars."Never able to manage money, nor anything else, Grealy gave no thought to paying her mounting medical bills, and she would just move to another apartment whenever her landlord became too demanding. Patchett, or some other friend, was always there to help her out and take care of her after those frequent surgeries. At one point Patchett even offered to write her novel for her.Eventually Grealy became addicted to painkillers, then resorted to harder drugs, all the while insisting she was not an addict. She died in 2002, and Patchett's book came out in 2004.I vote for saint.
  • (4/5)
    Ann Patchett has written an amazingly candid memoir of her intense and complicated, frustrating but rewarding friendship with Lucy Grealy, the celebrated author of Authobiography of a Face. The two women knew each other, vaguely, as undergraduates at Sarah Lawrence, became instant “best friends” as graduate students at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and, up until Lucy’s death of a drug overdose in 2002, were intricately, perhaps even obsessively, involved in each other’s personal and professional lives. Truth & Beauty: A Friendship is a paean to that involvement, an intimate tracing of a kind of commitment and care that seem rare in any relationship, let alone a relationship between two ambitious, potentially rivalrous writers. It is essentially a love story, a narrative at once heartbreakingly tender and fiercely frank, which Patchett tells with an extraordinary deftness of touch and tone.Lucy was not an easy person. Nor could one expect her to be. She had lost a good part of her left jaw to cancer as a child, endured painful rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, suffered through thirty-odd reconstructive surgeries, most of which did nothing to "repair" her face nor allow her to eat easily or much. But worse than these, she was forced to live with the unrelenting cruelty of people who mocked or recoiled from her "ugliness". This harrowing experience is what she set down in the award-winning memoir that put her on the map as a writer, a book that, for a time, brought her celebrity and wealth but couldn’t finally sustain her in a world which values and rewards only conventional beauty. Lucy needed more than fame; she wanted love. And while she certainly found a heroic species of that in Patchett, she wanted the full-blown romantic version as well. Extravagant, audacious, mercurial, Lucy was enormously attractive as a personality, but that did not satisfy her longing to be loved “as a woman.” Her brilliance and wit, her ability to galvanize and entertain any crowd, could not keep her from paralysing bouts of loneliness and depression or, in the end, from a lethal addiction to heroin.And yet, in spite of the steady downward tug on her life, there was much joy in it too, and much to celebrate. Patchett does justice to this side of Lucy, showing her huge appetite for experience, her refusal to play it all as tragedy. The two women (in Patchett’s view a classic pairing of her plodding tortoise with Lucy’s breathless hare) drink and dance, write and travel. They console each other while trying to get a publisher, get a fellowship, or get a boyfriend, and toast each other when they finally make it into print or into Yaddo or into bed. But Patchett’s sad awareness that she can not “save” this talented and vibrant individual casts a real poignancy over this wonderfully shaded portrait of a difficult but beautiful friendship.
  • (4/5)
    Terribly sad but a beautiful look into the never ending love between two friends.
  • (4/5)
    I hate addiction! Yet, even though I know better, my anger is often directed at those around the addict who allowed themselves to be fooled. If you are that stupid, you deserve whatever pain the addict created in your life. But that's only, so I don't have to see myself in the behavior of the addict. It forces me to look directly into the eyes of those who love me and know again how readily I was to throw them all away for a drink. My career, my marriage, my children, none were enough to stand between me and the bottle. I'm so sorry, Ann, and Lucy's friends experienced her loss, but infinitely grateful Ann shared the tragedy. My prayer is that none will ever have to pass through it again. But we will.
  • (4/5)
    While Anne bolds her presence in Lucy’s life, Lucy never mentioned Anne in her book” autobiography of a face.” It is strange!
  • (3/5)
    Seemed more focused on the author than the person who was the subject of the book. A little self-referential.
  • (5/5)
    An unconditional love for a friend is what I took from Ann Patchett's relationship with her friend, Lucy. Lucy had many struggles in life including cancer as a child, disfigurement from the cancer, low self-esteem, addiction to pain killers. Ann was an incredible friend and found the joy in Lucy. Even though Lucy was quite needy at times, Ann saw her as the amazing person she was and told that story beautifully in this book of friendship. It's not a nice, uplifting story, but one of raw feelings and emotions that these friends experienced.
  • (4/5)
    Such a sad but beautiful story about two friends and the lives over the years.

    I cried, I laughed, I smiled, I was horrified, but mostly it made me miss my dearest friend Lisa!!!!

    So glad I picked this one up! Thanks GGirls ( again.!)
  • (4/5)
    I am impresed this is nice information keep it up
  • (4/5)
    This is Ann Patchett's memoir of her friendship with author Lucy Grealy. Lucy, who was badly disfigured in childhood due to intensive treatment for cancer in her jaw area, is a passionate, brilliant, funny, and ever childlike woman who longs for love. I mean, I know that most of us long for love but as Ann describes her friend, this woman *aches* to be special and to be deeply and obsessively loved. Lucy and Ann met in college, at Sarah Lawrence College, and became friends when they shared an apartment while enrolled at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. The rest is, as they say, history. Ann's patience for Lucy's dependence and frivolity is admirable; she herself acknowledges that her attachment to Lucy had an addictive quality. But their friendship is also so sweet, and so viscerally true. It is an illustration of the best of friendship and the worst of friendship. That Lucy's life ended so tragically is hardly a surprise and Ann wastes no time on maudlin regrets. She beautifully describes her desire for more time, even a week, with Lucy still in her life, but she refuses to glorify a desperate and terrible ending. If anything, she lets society off just a bit lightly. This is the first of Patchett's works that I have read. Bel Canto has been on my TBR pile for at least a couple of years and I did give it a weak try just once (I think I read about two pages before setting it aside). This lovely memoir motivates me to give her fiction a try.
  • (5/5)
    Truth & Beauty is an endearing, wonderfully written memoir about the friendship and love between Ann Patchett and her friend, memoirist/poet, Lucy Grealy. Complete opposites, Patchett aptly compares their relationship to Aesop's fable characters: the grasshopper, ant, tortoise and hare."What the story didn't tell you is that the ant relented at the eleventh hour and took in the grasshopper when the weather was hard, fed him on his tenderest store of grass all winter. The tortoise, being uninterested in such things, gave over his medal to the hare. Grasshoppers and hares find the ants and tortoises. They need us to survive, but we need them as well. They were the ones who brought the truth and beauty to the party, which Lucy could tell you as she recited Keats over breakfast, was better than food any day."Gah, I just loved this book so much! This is a book that will make you call in sick to work just so you can finish it. You may just cry, and if not cry, then seriously reflect on the friends and dear loved ones you know. What circumstances bring people into our lives just when we need them? Are they here for a season or a lifetime? So much food for thought.Grealy endured countless operations on her face due to treatment of cancer when she was young. Despite never being happy with her appearance and being constantly overwhelmed with the fear of never being loved, her larger than life personality and poetic genius is the legacy that she left behind. Patchett's loving tribute to her dear friend was a wonderful reading experience. For two days I got to see behind the "writer's curtain" and all that goes into writing a book.Also I should add that this is a book that begs to be discussed. My mom isn't much of a reader, but two mornings in a row we found ourselves having coffee at the kitchen table discussing the characters; she even allowed me to read complete passages. I'm not one for highlighting my books or folding pages, but I just couldn't help myself! I devoured this book. One thing we agreed on this morning while I was filling her in on the ending, she said, "You better make sure to buy Autobiography of a Face. We'll have to discuss it on late night long distance phone calls." Consider it done, ma!
  • (5/5)
    An extraordinary memoir of a friendship, which encourages the reader to think about questions such as what is the role of appearance in destiny? What is the role of art? Can friendship heal deep psychic wounds? How much pain both physical and emotional can a person survive? Patchett is a favorite writer of mine, and as the ant in the ant and grasshopper story of her friendship with poet Lucy Grealy she offers her own perspectives, and poses questions, too. In a word, unforgettable.
  • (3/5)
    Well done. A portrait of the poet Lucy Grealy. The family was up in arms on this one, I can see why, but I feel like this comes acfos fondly and accurately.
  • (5/5)
    The most moving book I've read in a very long time, Truth and Beauty is the story of Ann Patchett's friendship with fellow author Lucy Grealy, who had survived childhood cancer at the cost of a disfigured face. Lucy is a mercurial character who exercises enormous charisma but also a devastating codependence with her friends - and Patchett describes both the beauty and horror of that unflinchingly, especially as she moves towards the devastating ending. It is a very brave and honest piece of writing - Ann's love for Lucy is obvious, as it Lucy's devotion to Ann, but the ugly undersides of both are also obvious. In the end, the limitations of friendship are also reached (many would argue Lucy crossed them long long ago), but the degree to which these two creative souls came alive in each other's company is such that it's hard not to cry for both of them eventually.

    In Lucy herself, Patchett paints an image of someone who was forever chasing life as much as she was her own creativity. Tragically her inability *not* to chase love (an eternal, idealised form that no one can possibly fulfil and which she vainly attempts to obtain principally through sex) is in the end far more damaging to her than her original cancer. It is a frightening exploration of depression and love addiction - written without exaggeration or melodrama, which makes it all the more confronting.

    At the same time, this is a beautiful testament to the importance of friendships among creative people - the loneliness of writing, the highs and the lows, are explored beautifully. There is also a moving description of September 11 (Ann is one of those who walked towards the towers, not realising the severity of what was happening).

    The ending should not be read when emotionally vulnerable! I hope that Ann found some solace in writing this - it is writing straight from the (raw) heart.
  • (4/5)
    A mix between memoir and biography, with Patchett recounting her friendship with Lucy Grealy. It's a lovely read, touching on writing, illness and love, but really all about the bonds of friendship.
  • (4/5)
    Ann Patchett is a fantastic writer and this memior / biography is a page turner as the story unfolds over the years (NOT typically the type of story that is a page turner!). Filled with descriptive language and the author's unique perspective. This is ultimately a sad story of artistic talent that is mired in personal problems and demons. But supported by friends to the end.
  • (4/5)
    I'm sending this to my life-long writing partner, so that we both know that no matter how dramatic we tend to make of the writing (or non-writing writing life) seem, there are others that can outdo us. A tragic story, but resuscitated by its beauty and the love these two women had for each other, and of course, Ann Patchett's writing.
  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I don't read a lot of memoirs, but this one wouldn't be refused: it was a glowing recommendation, then a steal at the used book store, then sitting on the right shelf on the right evening.Ann Patchett writes here with honesty and grace. It's not easy to convey a vivid sense of a person or a friendship, but she does so. She has a delicate enough touch for difficult, emotional material, so that the reader feels touched but not manipulated or overwhelmed. The book is so engaging it's easy to begin reading and hard to stop.A professor of mine, [author: Jack Driscoll], likes to repeat that the impulse to write comes from the impulse to love, and this book seems to be a shining example. Through her careful prose, Ann Patchett seems to love the young women she and Lucy were together, and to love and forgive the women they became.

    1 person found this helpful

  • (4/5)
    Ann and Lucy attended Sarah Lawrence at the same time. Ann had noticed Lucy because of her vibrant personality and her many friends, but was sure Lucy didn’t know who Ann was. However, after a summer absence Lucy sees Ann and flies into her arms in greeting. From that point on they were devoted friends throughout their lives. They lived in poverty while Ann pursues her dream of becoming a novelist and Lucy a poet. Ann understands early on how needy Lucy is and determines not to let that rule her life, but Lucy also lives with great abandon and loves to dance, party, and spend her time surrounded by others, and shares those joys with Ann. They often spend evenings dancing in their kitchen until they're exhausted. As Ann spends years working in a restaurant while pursuing her writing, Lucy is in and out of hospitals having surgeries to correct her jaw, all of which ultimately fail. Each eventually become recognized as writers, but the real story is the enduring and passionate friendship. They communicate daily most of their lives, sharing everything and making each other a priority. While the road is sometimes rocky, their love for one another endures throughout. This is an honest portrayal of a flawed but wonderful friendship.
  • (5/5)
    Ann Patchett met Lucy Grealy in college, but their friendship blossomed during graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop. The two complemented one another: Lucy was a free spirit, Ann was organized and practical. But Lucy’s life was complicated by childhood cancer which left her with virtually no jaw, and all of the self-esteem issues that can arise from looking different. As an adult, Lucy had several reconstructive surgeries, but none were successful. The two women supported each other as they encountered personal and professional challenges; Ann was always quick to hop on a plane to New York to visit Lucy any time she was needed, and especially after surgery. Lucy died young (not a spoiler, it’s evident in the dedication), but she left an impact on everyone who knew her.Both Ann and Lucy ultimately experienced literary success and fame, Ann as the author of several novels and Lucy through her memoir, Autobiography of a Face which now I simply MUST read. Truth and Beauty is Ann’s tribute to their intensely close friendship, and a very moving tribute it is.
  • (4/5)
    I first learned about the friendship of Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy, in Patchett's excellent essay collection,  This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, so I knew I wanted to read the full story in this moving and unflinching memoir.Ann and Lucy met in college. Lucy had a bout of childhood cancer, leaving her with a serious facial disfigurement, that wasted away her lower jaw. She ended up having nearly 40 surgeries, up until her premature death at age 39. Lucy dealt with self-esteem issues her entire life, which led her to substance abuse problems and suicidal tendencies. This is the story of their unique friendship, which had plenty of bumps along the way, as Ann tried to help Lucy deal with her multitude of issues. The prose is strong, all along the way, with a staunch sense of honesty, that is sometimes hard to bear. Now, I want to read, Autobiography of a Face, which is Lucy's own story. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I just finished reading Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty: A Friendship, which chronicles the relationship of the author with the late Lucy Grealy. This book has been on my must-read list ever since I read Patchett's account of Clemson's attempt to censor it from their incoming freshman class. Based upon the brouhaha the book the book created, I expected something in the book that would have earned it the label certain members of the Clemson community gave it: pornographic. Of course I read it more because I enjoy Patchett's ability to engage in lyric reminiscence than because I was expecting to read steamy love scenes between the two girls. In that regard, I was left scratching my head and uttering a bemused, “huh?” for this decidedly PG-rated book. It turns out the relationship between Ann and Lucy was more mother-daughter than loverly (with Ann decidedly taking on the maternal role most of the time). Truth and Beauty is decidedly not about sex. It’s about the love of two writers who found each other in college and maintained a friendship through thick and thin. Most of the “thin” revolved around Lucy. Patchett paints Lucy as a dynamic human, the type of girl that couldn’t be ignored, a troubled woman whom everyone seemed to love but who, paradoxically, felt perpetually alone. Lucy was plagued by depression and insecurity, which seemed to be the natural outflow of living life with a face that had been stolen from her in childhood through the violent cancer treatments she underwent for Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare cancer of the jaw). She survived the treatments, but they left her with little lower jaw and no teeth. The fallout from her chemo and radiation also left Lucy with invisible scars that marred her ability to believe that she was lovable. Yet, Ann and countless others DID love Lucy. That’s because Lucy Grealy was, among many things, lovable immeasurable it seemed, creative, and full of candor. Lucy Grealy was stunning writer. And she was honest, whimsical and a force to be reckoned with. Ann’s depiction of their friendship paints not the sad tale of a manic-depressive, self-centered girl, but of a woman who was nuanced and vivacious. Though Lucy would never paint herself as a hero, I believe that Patchett saw her as one, though perhaps of a different sort than the “triumph over tragedy” trope. Patchett shares her perspective on Lucy, and it’s clear that this perspective is one of love, though not the rose-colored glasses kind. Lucy was needy, but this need tapped into something maternal in Ann. So while some would argue that Anne pandered to Lucy’s temperament, I would argue that these two girls loved each other fiercely and that they just enjoyed each other. Lucy cheered Ann. Ann’s practicality balanced Lucy’s more flighty tendency. And Lucy Grealy was self-deprecatingly FUNNY. The nature of their relationship is revealed through vignettes and letters written by Lucy during the many years in which they lived apart pursuing fellowships, teaching at different colleges, or while Lucy (Scottish by birth) spent a year abroad undergoing facial reconstructive surgeries.Whoever Lucy Grealy was, she was a complex woman who had dreams, spunk and talent in spades. I believe this account honors her life, though, like Lucy’s sister who lambasted Patchett for writing Truth and Beauty so soon after Lucy’s death, I wonder if Patchett should have waited a bit to publish the book. I understand her need to memorialize her friend, but I do question the wisdom of her timing. While I can see her sister’s point, the work itself still stands as a narrative that shines a light on what was one of the greatest loves of Patchett’s life. Sorry Clemson, the love between two women IS normal (even though this one was decidedly of the amicable-not-amorous, variety after all).
  • (5/5)
    I expected something more like a biography of Lucy Grealy. I don't know why. Nothing in the description necessarily should have suggested that to me, but that's what I expected. What I found, however, was more the biography of a friendship. Patchett writes honestly and poignantly about her decades-long friendship with Lucy Grealy and how this relationship and the loss of it shaped her life. It helped me see both what I want in a friendship with another woman and what I don't want. And it helped me to better see how much influence the people I'm close to have in my life.

    From a technical standpoint, I really liked the structure of the memoir. The mixture of correspondence and recollection flowed well and wasn't tied strictly to the chronological, just like our recollections of our lives aren't often strictly chronological. We juxtapose the parts that seem to go together in order to highlight the particular meaning they have for us. As always, I loved reading about the writers' lives, especially seeing how very differently two brilliant writers went about being brilliant.
  • (4/5)
    An elegy for Lucy Grealy, Patchett's talented, troubled friend and boon companion, "Truth and Beauty" is an uncommonly effective example of a memoir written by a younger person. Lucy, to Patchett's great credit, shines through as a character -- she's funny, magnetic, maddeningly complex and, as the title suggests, serious about the business of writing, a star in both the personal and professional sense. A lot of movies and books have dealt with female friendships in the past couple of decades, and while Patchett and Grealy had as intense a friendship as I've ever heard of and were constantly in touch, Patchett also uses their relationship to trace her own development as a writer and as a person. In a sense, "Truth and Beauty" is an autobiography told through a friendship, and it turns out to be a pretty effective device. The author seems quite aware that it isn't just Lucy she's memorializing here; she's also commemorating her own formative years, a time when she made the emotional and professional sacrifices necessary to become a writer. The book's level of emotional disclosure can sometimes be startling: Patchett includes several of Grealy's letters in their entirety, and descriptions of how her friend's disfiguring illness -- and the extreme steps she took to deal with it -- affected her life and molded her personality seem both sympathetic and unerringly clear-eyed, as are her descriptions of the disappointment she felt during the difficult years she spent working in a chain restaurant in Nashville. The book's closing chapters, which describe how Lucy's own frustrations and insecurities overwhelmed her and pushed her into drug use, are almost unbearably sad. Patchett freely admits that her friend's emotional insecurities could sometimes be trying, though she wisely rather to show, rather than spell out, the cracks that appeared in their friendship as Lucy became an addict. "Truth and Beauty" feels like a gift in a lot of ways: Patchett wants us to get to know her friend, and to fall in love with her in the same way she did. Still, it also serves as a lasting reminder of her immense talent and tremendous potential, and just how much of it was left unfulfilled. "Truth and Beauty" is also the sort of book powerful enough to haunt its readers.
  • (4/5)
    Loved this book. I thought the portrait of friendship and of the discovery of one's own self in contrast and in the context of someone else were wonderful. (Plus, it has the distinction of being my very first Kindle book, so it bears a shine of magic from that.)
  • (5/5)
    Patchett's tribute to her friend, Lucy Grealy - a monumental story of love, grief, and self exploration