Biography & Autobiography. Family & Relationships. Nonfiction. HTML: "A loving testament to the work and reward of the best friendships, the kind where your arms can't distinguish burden from embrace." â?? People New York Times Bestselling author Ann Patchett's first work of nonfiction chronicling her decades-long friendship with the critically acclaimed and recently deceased author, Lucy Grealy. Ann Patchett and the late 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 Gealy's critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, she wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and 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 together. 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 is what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined...and what happens when one is left behind. This is a tender, brutal book about loving the person we cannot save. It is about loyalty and being uplifted by the sheer effervescence of someone who knew how to live life to the fullest.
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
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.
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 Annâ€™s tribute to their intensely close friendship, and a very moving tribute it is.
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.
I read the book in a day and a half. I'm usually a fast reader, but I was so caught up in the story of this unique and obsessive relationship, that I found it hard to put the book down. I did think it was an excellent book, but it's one that I'd recommend cautiously as Lucy and Ann's story is often a painful one.
Group comments: similar. Anne f thought that author didnâ€™t portray lucy in a very positive light. We commented on since this was a memoir, the author had more liberty with the portrayal than a biography.
"I could write a whole book about you," I said, and laughed.
There were so many things in this book I felt like I could relate to - for example being the one who is the ant to a friend's grasshopper. She also describes the feeling of that lull between being a success at school and being a success in the "real world" where you're wondering if you'll ever get to that place where you're a successful somebody. All in all, this was a fine read, I was completely caught up in the story of Ann and Lucy's friendship, and Ann's love for Lucy permeates the story...it's an honest tribute to their friendship that encompasses both its good and bad moments. Patchett shows us that friendship can be messy and can easily fall apart, but love is the glue that holds it all together.
A primary theme of the novel is Lucy's significant facial deformity, the result of surviving a deadly form of cancer as a young girl. As a result, Lucy was left without a jaw or teeth, and over the course of her life, she submitted to 38 surgeries to try and obtain the best jaw and facial structure that she could. Her chronic medical issues drew the tiny bird-like Lucy into a dependent role with Ann and her other friends, who frequently rearranged their lives to care for her, and at times, come to Lucy's rescue. Ann's relationship with Lucy was remarkable to me as Lucy was extremely dependent on her, needed constant reassurance, and was child-like and needy with her (literally sitting in her lap and eating off her plate, throwing herself in Ann's arms so she would carry her, etc.). Lucy's emotions were extremely unstable throughout her life and she appeared to suffer from Borderline personality traits. It was hard for me to understand how patient Ann could be with Lucy, as Lucy was constantly in crisis and in need of being cared for. Lucy's chronic surgeries and medical problems eventually led to her dependency on opiates and heroin, which in turn, led to suicide attempts and a fatal overdose.
I really enjoyed reading this memoir, as it was exceedingly well written and described the intricate details of an intense and complicated female friendship, which lasted for many years. As a new fan of Ann Patchett's work (I loved "State of Wonder"), I am now much more interested in reading all of her works, the creation of each of which were described in this memoir. Though I picked up this novel on a whim, I was very absorbed in this book from the beginning and all the way through. I strongly recommend this work for anyone who is interested in the evolution and psychology of female friendships.
Pleasant, not very deep.
The book lives in the space where these two lives intersected, and portrays their friendship as very tight, even possessively so at times. " 'Do you love me? She threw one leg over mine and in doing so managed to swallow up all the air in the restaurant.' " This obsessive need for Ann's undying affection is also reflected in Lucy's letters (which I loved), interspersed throughout the book. I have heard that Ann is not mentioned very much in Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face and I am interested to read that soon and see how the two stories diverge. A good read.