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.
©2004 Ann Patchett; (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
"This gorgeously written chronicle unfolds as an example of how friendships can contain more passion and affection than any in the romantic realm." (Publishers Weekly)
"An electrifyingly intimate portrait of a remarkable human being, and a profoundly insightful chronicle of an incandescent friendship." (Booklist)
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
I rarely give up on a book and I almost did with Truth and Beauty. I am a fan of other Patchett books, Bel Canto, Magician's Assistant, State of Wonder...but this one, was too much, just too much of this back and forth between these two mostly unhappy people. I find it hard to believe that Patchett would want to write about every conversation, every sad call yet perhaps if I had read Lucy Grealy's book I may feel otherwise. The book did begin to hold my interest as it progressed, but for me overall, I guess it was just too depressing.
I must say however that Lucy Grealy was an amazing woman it seems at least from her friend's account. And to have such a friendship, what a gift for Ann and Lucy.
Ann Patchett does a remarkable job of describing her friendship with Lucy Greely, painting a vivid portrait of Lucy and her own masochistic love for her. I highly recommend reading Lucy Greely's own autobiography, "Autobiography of a Face" prior to listening to this - Audible doesn't have it yet, but it might be hard to understand this description of Lucy's later life without knowing the background. Otherwise, empathizing with their friendship could be difficult since she does not really describe the events which made Lucy the tragic heroine that she is. I reserve 5 stars for the best of the best, but this is a good listen; she does an excellent job narrating her book and it is heart rending, and even compelling at times.
I found this book a tragic example of ignorance...as tragic as if it were a discription of the failure of bloodletting to cure diabetes. While the treatment for addiction and co-dependency is not always successful it is available, and I believe that this book really misses the point of the real problems that complicated the incredible difficulties both women faced. Co-dependence and addiction are primary...not secondary problems, and this book is probably one of the most gruesome examples of tragic denial I have ever read...especially as one witnesses the corruption of genuine courage by the disease of addiction and confused co-dependence. Ignorance amplifies the tradegy, and actually serves the denial of readers who may have similar problems. The tragedy here goes on with that omission because if you don't know what you are dealing with you can't deal with it at all. I was actually sorry I bought it.
I read Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy (4 stars) long before I had heard of Ann Patchett (whose fiction never seems to appeal to me in the days since I have heard of her). But as I was listening to the first couple of hours of Patchett’s collected essays, I felt more in the mood for a memoir and though I had never heard of Truth and Beauty until just then, I downloaded it.
It was ok. I actually enjoyed the beginning much more than as the book…dragged on.
Two things struck me the most: I don’t think I could ever be convinced that this was a healthy relationship. If Patchett had acknowledged that the relationship was probably toxic from early on, maybe I could have gone with it. But it’s not till near the end that she even considers ending the friendship, and then it’s because Patchett can’t stand to see Grealy as a drug addict. It’s not clear how much Grealy’s addiction actually affected Patchett on a personal day-to-day level. Which leads me to the second point, in a memoir, what you leave out is as important as what you leave in, and I kept wondering what Patchett was doing in her life, particularly since she was often living in Tennessee and didn’t have daily contact. She’s obviously not completely absent, but Patchett included her life outside of Lucy fairly superficially and I think the book suffered for it. If you read Patchett’s collected essays, you find out she was actually having a life, but because the book is about this particular friendship it makes it seem as though all Patchett did was take care of Grealy emotionally and physically.
Someone’s review mentioned “co-dependent,” and it certainly seems that way—in the extreme. The person who takes everything gets as much as the person who seemingly gives endlessly. But it didn’t make for very enlightening reading if it's not really explored--well, it's clear what Grealy gets but not as clear what Patchett gets. It could have been called This is the Story of a Co-Dependent Relationship, Which Will Not Be Acknowledged, and I would have skipped it.
I value that Ann writes about her life with Lucy because it helped me accept my inability to be a good friend. Ann wrote an easy to imagine narrative of her experiences with her friend Lucy. I purchased this book because I want to have a better understanding of friendship. And although the circumstances in which Ann and Lucy's friendship unfold were extreme, this portrait highlights elements common to most friendships: acceptance, reliance, codependency, fun, common interests, and tolerance (I am sure I am missing many other relational characteristics). I have not read any of Ann's books before; and I didn't know who Ann or Lucy Grealy were up until now. Just as I have had of friendship, I idealized the story I was about to read; specifically, I expected a story that portrayed friends who make one another better according to heroic cliches. Yet, this book helps me acknowledge the truth about me, I cannot be the friend that Ann was to Lucy.That being said, I would like to know and understand what motivated Ann's consistent multifaceted care for Lucy.
I was moved by more than episode. First, I was moved when Ann talks about the man with whom Lucy looses her virginity. The man that too often would tell Lucy that he did not love her but continue to have sex with her. Another time was when Ann talks about September 11. It was easy for me to forecast Lucy's anxiety for not being in Manhattan as the terrorist events unfolded. Another time that provoked strong emotions in me was the time when one of Ann's books was a candidate for a price, and Lucy kept hovering around her making comments and questions so as to remind Ann and show others her significance in Ann's life.
Avid reader of classics and fiction, history and well-written genre novels. Music lover and huge audiobook fan.
I really couldn't stop listening to this book. When I was finished I started reading it again. Ann Patchett is a wonderful writer and hearing her read this story of such a meaningful friendship in her life was so moving I couldn't stop. Though I have much compassion for Lucy Grealy, I have to admit I didn't find her such a likable person, but that was part of what I liked so much about the book. It was so true it was raw, and that made its beauty. Highly recommended.
Lover of historical fiction. I have turned to audiobooks to supplement scare reading time, amidst a busy job and parenting.
I found this a riveting account of a 20 year friendship. Given that this is a very personal story, it seems fitting that the author should be the one to narrate it; and Patchett does this unusually well for an author. I admired Patchett's courage in writing about such a personal experience. I loved Lucy, despite her flaws, and felt incredible dismay that someone so talented should die so young at her own hand. I felt the utter helplessness of those who watch someone plummet into addiction - unable to stop them, but doing their best to be there. Most of all, I feel grateful for Patchett's honest account of female friendship. I recommend this book to those who are interested in the nature and bounds of female friendship. There is much in this book that will stay with me for a very long time.
haven't written a review before. felt the need to write one here--this was one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to, bought it maybe 5 yrs ago and have listened to many since. still love this one. hated for the novel to end. story about a woman's friendship--very intimate, almost like lovers (as a lesbian and close friend to plenty of straight ladies, I found this aspect especially truthful--as female friends very often toe the line super close to lover)
anyway, beautifully narrated by author. what else...
i suppose I should mention other audio titles I have hated to have end. All sedaris (Amy and David) titles, and that first book in Strain series. pretty much it.
I purchased this book because I had previously read Ann Patchett's novel Patron Saint of Liars and loved it, and I was interested in the subject of friendship and her take on what I imagined might prove to be a rather enmeshed or difficult one. I anticipated a sad ending (won't give away any details) but was surprised that my reaction wasn't very emaotional..I don't know if it was Ann Patchett's rather dry delivery or her more cerebral approach to the writing of the memoir..at one point in the book she speaks humorously of 'repression' as a coping mechanism, so maybe that is the reason. No matter why, I found it to be a fascinating exploration of her relationship with Lucy Grealy, and it gave me lots of subject matter for my armchair psychoanalyst mind to peruse. I was never bored, and was grateful for the opportunity to get inside the mind and heart of an author whom I admire very much. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in relationships, addiction, depression, writing, codependency, or Ann Patchett.
I've listened to about 40 books since joining Audible, and this is one of my favorites. I love the author's voice, and the writing is wonderful--nothing too showy or flowery, just a really nice use of language. I do suggest that you read "Autobiography of a Face" before you listen to this book.
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