A friend of mine who I often trade books with handed me this a couple months ago and said, "I think you'll really like it". I had never read an Ann Patchett book and since Bel Canto was on my list, which I've heard such amazing things about, I decided to add this title, too. If I can remember correctly the first 40ish pages took awhile to get into; after that I finished quickly.
Truth and Beauty is a memoir of friendship between the two writers, Ann, and her best friend, the late Lucy Grealy of Autobiography of a Face fame. The story isn't a typical book broken into chapters of episodes, but more like chapters of emotions...and surgery. A lot of the chapters either start or end with a letter from Lucy, setting the tone, or rather closing the state of emotion out, with her poetic words and battle with loneliness.
The story is set over a couple decades, starting with college and ending sadly without Lucy about twenty years later. It's a recap of both authors' fame, awards, trials, moves, and teaching positions, and it's written so well. Ms. Patchett, more of a type A 'square' is always trying to save Lucy from her demons and Lucy is trying to smother her loneliness by anything and everything including men, art, shopping, and writing. The story has a sad ending but so many wonderful lines about friendship and the human heart, the human condition.
I give this book 3.5 stars out of 5, and not because it wasn't written well. It was written beautifully. I simply grew frustrated with Lucy's character and her mind-numbing behavior that was destroying her life. I think you may give it a better mark, reader, but there's only so much sadness a character can ooze out onto the audience, and after awhile I chose to turn a deaf ear and fall behind a wall of less concern for the tragedy. It is a true story, and it is a very sad thing, but there is only so much help a person -a human friend- can do for another. In the end, one has to take responsibility for their own actions, including those that turn a deaf ear to the One who has given His life over for our mess, the only thing making us whole.