However, the book isn’t a novel. It’s the story of Ann Patchett’s friendship with Lucy Grealy, as written by Patchett. The reason I initially got the book was that Patchett is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read all but one of her books (and enjoyed them all). In fact, Bel Canto is one of my all time favorite books.
Truth & Beauty will not be a disappointment to any Patchett fan. It’s an interesting look at her life of writing, but mostly at her friendship with Lucy. I wanted to dislike Lucy. She’s the type of person that in real life would be so difficult to be around. But through the eyes of Patchett you can’t help but love her. Their friendship grows from their arrival at grad school in Iowa, through first Lucy’s and then Ann’s writing successes, and finally into the spiral of Lucy’s life. Though all the foreshadowing is there, it’s still devastating to see Lucy self-destruct.
I’m off to find some interviews with Patchett about how and why she wrote this book. A memorial to Lucy? The backstory of such an interesting life? A tribute to a long and beautiful friendship?
This is definitely not an easy book to read. Lucy’s physical sufferings through the book are written compellingly, which I found hard to keep reading about. It is a stunning piece of writing though and I would recommend the book.
Note: I discovered that this book is a little bit controversial. So, if you have very delicate sensibilities, don’t read it. For more, here’s the article in The Atlantic.