‘It is remarkable for me to remember now that I thought it would be possible to walk away from her, that she might have gone on living, but without me. I know now I never would have had the strength of my convictions. I am living in a world without Lucy. I have no choice about that. If she were alive and I had that choice, I wouldn’t have been able to last without her for a day.’ What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren’t bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honour for the rest of your life 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 and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about the first half of her life: losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. 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 twenty 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, yet sometimes 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.
Reviews of Truth and Beauty
‘Truth and Beauty, Patchett’s account of her relationship with Grealy, is not a story of commonplace camaraderie. Theirs is a love story, a first-love story, an account of devotion so intense that it compares to conventional friendship as closely as double cream does to Dream Topping. Her luminously detailed book, written in the aftermath of Lucy’s death is an intentionally warts-and-all portrait of the woman ‘with whom I was a native speaker’. Signing on for a love affair with her, Ann Patchett was committing herself not only to great joy but also, seemingly, to tragedy.’ Elspeth Linder, Observer
Praise for Bel Canto:
‘A beguiling mix of thriller, romantic comedy, and novel of ideas…Crisply written, immaculately plotted, and often very funny, it is that rarity – a literary novel you simply can’t put down.’ The Times
‘Like the blueprint of operatic performance that she has imported, Patchett slides from strutting camp to high tragedy, minute social comedy to sublime romanticism.’ Alex Clark, Guardian
‘Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett’s fiction. Comparisons are tempting to the unabashed romanticism of Laurie Colwin, the eccentric characters of Anne Tyler, the enchantments of Alice Hoffman. But Patchett is unique; a generous, fearless and startlingly wise young writer.’ New York Times