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Truth & Beauty: A Friendship

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Shocking and Perverse Friendship

Ann and Lucy are writers who met at the University of Iowa's esteemed Writers Workshop. They also attended the same college, Sarah Lawrence, but did know each other there. Lucy barely acknowledged Ann in those days. When they became roommates in Iowa, Ann's affection...
Ann and Lucy are writers who met at the University of Iowa's esteemed Writers Workshop. They also attended the same college, Sarah Lawrence, but did know each other there. Lucy barely acknowledged Ann in those days. When they became roommates in Iowa, Ann's affection for Lucy took on an All About Eve quality. Ann became Lucy's servant, and Lucy ordered her about in a strange, lurid, psycho-drama that only Ann seemed to think was a normal girlfriend friendship. This was not, in my opinion, a healthy relationship. Rather, it was a disturbuing, co-dependent relationship, with latent lesbian features. I base this on Ann's own descriptions of the extent to which she went to please Lucy. No one I know would go to these lengths to please a girlfriend. Ann seems to working through her own issues throughout this book--sexual orientation, friendship, affection, romance, professional achievement. I just wish she could be more honest with her feelings and take us, the readers, one layer below. For example, she notes, with pleasure, that she slept with Lucy on many cold mornings--in a twin bed. What was Ann thinking, experiencing, fantasizing, and feeling during these nocturnal encounters with her bosum buddy Lucy? This book has a weird fascination that makes it noteworthy and eminently readable.

posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Two Women Exploring The Boundaries of Love and Sex

This is a book about two women who shared an unbelievably close emotional relationship. At the start of the book, Lucy and Ann lived together as graduate students at the University of Iowa. They dated men but at the end of a long day, were usually together. Lucy prof...
This is a book about two women who shared an unbelievably close emotional relationship. At the start of the book, Lucy and Ann lived together as graduate students at the University of Iowa. They dated men but at the end of a long day, were usually together. Lucy professed her love for Ann, leapt into her arms, smooched her lips, crawled into her bed, watched her take nude baths. Was this merely a platonic riendship or was there more to it than that? I would argue that their romance had lesbian overtones. Oddly enough, the L word is not to be found in this book despite a plot that reminded me of a 1950s lesbian pulp novel about two women who fall in love, marry, but remain in love. Erotic or platonic love. You, the reader, be the judge.

posted by Anonymous on February 8, 2006

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    Fascinating & Thought Provoking - Writing at it's Best

    This book left me thinking, long after I'd finished the last page, about the human longing for recognition and "true love", and about where the roots of depression lie. The most interesting aspect of the story to me, was the fact that Lucy spent her life searching for something that was illusive to her. Although she evidently had many, many people who loved her, their love was never enough to fill the void for Lucy, and this was the true driving force of her life. I wondered, too, on a less philosophical note, about what role eating little but sugar & alcohol played in Lucy's depression. Ann Patchett has illuminated Lucy's complex mix of extreme intelligence, narcissism, insecurity, wit, and charisma in a beautifully written love letter, that captivates. It's a warts and all tribute to a fascinating friendship between two talented and intelligent women.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Intensely personal

    I read Truth and Beauty because I wanted to know how Ann Patchett would write non-fiction. I had read (and been entirely captivated by the luminescence of the prose in ) both State of Wonder and Bel Canto and I was almost over-whelmed by the beauty of Patchett's fiction. Would she be able to produce the same effect for me in this odd autobiographical/biographical story of the most important friendship in her life?

    The answer is perhaps as complicated as that friendship. This book reads almost like it were by a completely different person. Even the diction seems different! At the same time, though, the sense of wonder with which Patchett has her characters approach their worlds in her fiction is present all throughout this book as well, making it perfectly deserving of its name.

    Patchett writes about what she sees as the truth of her epic friendship with Lucy Grealy, but (despite the darkness that shadows the latter part of the book) she writes about this truth--this heart-breakingly rich friendship--with the wonder and the awe, the laughter and the tears, the poise and the surrender of facades that great beauty can engender. The truth of this story is its beauty; the beauty is its truth.

    Another reviewer here scoffed at this book, calling Ann and Lucy co-dependent and hinted at dark motivations in Patchett's heart for writing this book. How could this person have read the same book I did?? Was the relationship between the two women almost disturbingly intense? Without a doubt. Did I wonder what Patchett got out of the friendship? Maybe a little. Did Patchett's motives for telling her tale seem to be some kind of exoneration for both Lucy and her? Again, I would answer affirmatively. But to me, that is the key word: I believe Truth and Beauty is, indeed, Patchett's affirmation of the magnitude of the love she bore for her friend and that her friend bore for her, mixed with the great sorrows that only a friendship of this magnitude can generate--and still exist.

    Patchett, I think, didn't write this book for me or you. She wrote it for herself and for Lucy. And I'm certain Lucy would have loved it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2013

    I laughed and cried.  I related to both Ann and Lucy, sometimes

    I laughed and cried.  I related to both Ann and Lucy, sometimes feeling closer to one and then the other.  Having lived in NYC I pictured in my minds' eye not only the places but the time frame.   They both felt passionately about their own work and about their friendship.
    Ann's writing is simply poetic.  To have a friend like Ann was to Lucy or Lucy was to Ann is a gift.  I have such a gift and this relationship has made Ann's writing even more beautiful.
    A must read!

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  • Posted November 8, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Ann Patchett is exceptional and captivating!

    I devoured a chapter a night - couldn't wait to read the next one. She definately keeps the reader stimulated.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2006

    Stunning!

    I read this book slowly and didn't want to put it down. Patchett's memoir is a beautiful tribute to all that is friendship and something inexplicably more. While the two never share a sexual relationship their relationship is everything women want in their girlfriends. It made me re-evaluate how I look at mine and suddenly I felt illuminated. It is a must read and a must have. Simply lovley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2006

    Absolutely Beautiful

    This amazing book is about two womens' unconditional love for one another and their life together. Patchett did an excellent job with this biography and she writes with such skill and beauty. I fell in love with this book from page one. I would sit and read it for hours and then reread. This book inspired and motivated me in ways other books can not even breach. It takes my breath away!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2005

    What a friendship!

    For two women to have such a friendship is a bona fide gift to us readers. This book makes me evaluate my relationships and search for how to make them stronger via Ann and Lucy's understanding of one another. This is truly a beautiful book.

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    Posted January 17, 2009

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