Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

by Ann Patchett
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Overview

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786269716
Publisher: Gale Group
Publication date: 11/02/2004
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 370
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three books of nonfiction. She has won many prizes, including Britain's Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is the co-owner of Parnassus Books.

Hometown:

Nashville, Tennessee

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1963

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California

Education:

B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1987

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Truth and Beauty 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Hikingalseattle More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book with a mix of emotions: I was frequently thrilled by the construction of a sentence while being saddened by the story it told. But the bottom line is that I loved it. Loved it in the unique kind of way that such a sad story can be loved. I loved Ann's courageousness to share such intimate, probably often painful memories. I loved the fact that anyone even wrote a memoir about friendship - one of the truest, most oft unsung staples of life. I find myself wishing that I could have a long gab with Ann and ask her more about Lucy or about her other friends. I feel like she understands both friendships and writing, which makes her book a remarkable offering. Yes, be prepared for a peek into a unuiqe relationship. Yes, be prepared for some sadness. Yes, have your phone handy to call up your best friend and tell him/her that you love him/her. But don't close your mind because of tears or differences. Let Ann and Lucy's friendship take you by storm, and enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is being publicized as a moving account of an enduring, loving friendship. It actuality, it is a disturbing tale of an unhealthy, co-dependent union between two women who both have severe emotional problems. Ann Patchett wrote an article for New York Magazine following the death of her friend Lucy Grealy; this book is simply a longer version of that article. Patchett cannot stop reiterating how everybody loved Lucy, how so many people were enamoured of her, 'so many people in love with her'. In reality, Grealy comes across as being very much alone. I get the impression that people viewed her as a sort of interesting novelty because of her history of illness and facial disfigurement, and that's why she got a fair amount of attention from various types of people. Certainly people were not attracted to her because of her sterling character. Even Patchett, who is bizarrely devoted to Grealy no matter how abominably she behaves, admits that Lucy was frequently awful. Lucy was the roommate from hell; she left all the cooking and cleaning duties to Patchett, while she herself left bowls of Cream of Wheat on the floor, left wet towels under pillows and runs up huge phone bills. After Patchett moves into a house with a boyfriend, Grealy, for some unexplained reason, gets a key to the place, which enables her to bring men there and have sex with them in Patchett and the boyfriends's bed. After doing so, she tells Patchett all about it...some friend! Despite Patchett's protestions about how wonderful Lucy is, I find Lucy to be downright unbearable; self-absorbed, reckless, promiscuous, thoughtless, and psychotically needy. Over and over she asks Patchett 'do you love me?'; over and over she is jumping into Patchett's arms, wrapping her legs around her waist, leaning her head on her shoulder, crawling into bed with her, hanging on to her as a limpet to a rock. Grealy is morbidly jealous on any relationship Patchett has with anyone else be they male or female. When Patchett wants to work with a woman named Betsy, she asks for Grealy's permission! Patchett does literally everything for Grealy; she gives, gives gives, while Grealy takes, takes, takes. What sense can be made of this? The only thing I can figure is that Patchett is a person who needs to be used. Grealy was a master at doing this, so no wonder Patchett was hooked on this creepy 'friendship' that seems more like a marriage. One final note: Grealy's sister Suellen, has some choice words about this book. You can read about her views in The Guardian Review. She is understandable upset by what she feels is the exploitation of her sister by Ann Patchett (who she does not regard as a very skilled writer) and by how her family has been portrayed since Grealy's death. Patchett remarked to Suellen that she has been working, writing, and living in 'the Lucy factory' and discussed film rights. Crass.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was beautiful, heartbreaking, honest, raw, funny, and everything in between. The story of a perfectly imperfect friendship between two perfectly imperfect women. You can't read it without thinking of your best girlfriends and you come out of it loving and appreciating them all a little bit more.
Sally6 More than 1 year ago
I found myself wanting to read this, but yet struggled doing so. The friendship was strong and with so much inner turmoil that it almost made me crazy. I have had a close friend who was as needy, and I had to back far a way, so I understood the pull Ann and Lucy had with their friendship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the way Ann Patchett writes. I think her use of language is crisp and descriptive. However, this is not an easy read. I'm glad I read it, and the book is a testament to friendship, but sometimes the friendship was such a burden that I wondered how it was sustained.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully crafted story of an intense, demanding friendship in which Patchett seems to be doing all the giving. You question the health and craziness of that relationship throughout the book -- something Patchett herself doesn't address. That's disappointing.
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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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