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Truth & Beauty: A Friendship (2004)

by Ann Patchett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,363874,392 (3.96)113
What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren't bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the 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 Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn't Lucy's life or Ann's life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty 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 book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined. This is a tender, brutal book about loving a 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.… (more)
  1. 30
    Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (joaldo)
    joaldo: I recommend reading Autobiography of a Face first, then Truth and Beauty. Autobiography of a Face should be enjoyed for what it is, without being in some way 'tainted' by the harsher view of Lucy's friend, Ann Patchett. Reading Ann's book next will then give the reader a completely different perspective on the poet herself, her work, and on their friendship.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Apr 19, 2020 |
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. ( )
  bbbbecky13 | Mar 22, 2020 |
A wonderful companion to "Autobiography of a Face." ( )
  sonyahuber | Dec 3, 2019 |
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.!) ( )
  SandraBrower | Oct 27, 2019 |
Ann Patchett’s memoir of her friendship with Lucy Grealy. I was transfixed by this book and by Grealy’s own memoir. It was fascinating both as a portrait of female friendship but also as a glimpse into the world of professional writers – fellowships, teaching gigs and magazine articles. Patchett’s love for Lucy is intense and her willingness to be there for her friend is breathtaking, until Lucy delivers the fait acomplis near the end. Maybe Ann didn’t do all of these things for Lucy for purely selfless reasons; maybe she did them to be the saint? There is no way to know, but there is something about the way she portrays her friend-desperate, clingy, possessive, irresponsible-that is entirely unflattering. Maybe the book is a way to get credit for all of those generous acts; maybe it is anger at Lucy for letting herself succumb to addiction despite all of Ann’s efforts. ( )
  Seafox | Jul 24, 2019 |
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The thing you can count on in life is that Tennessee will always be scorching hot in August.
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