Truth and Beauty: a friendship
The moving story of Ann Patchett's friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy, told candidly and with great love. Lucy was always a star, finding limelight even in dusty midwestern towns and run-down old duplexes. Everyone knew her, and the story of her heroic battle against cancer that left her face mangled and forever dissolving, despite the continued efforts of surgeons in the UK and the US. Nevertheless, Lucy loved liveliness. She was the grasshopper, entertaining, delightful, and energetic.
Ann describes herself, on the other hand, as the ant: hard working, loyal, and dull. Lucy is deeply attached to her, and their lives march side by side for twenty years, taking them through college, Master's degrees, struggling to pay the rent while trying to write their first books, applying for fellowships and grants and competitions.
Their lives solidify: Ann settling in her hometown, dating a nice doctor, writing steadily; Lucy based in New York, surrounded by friends. Ann wins a fellowship and writes her first book. Lucy writes a bestseller about her struggle.
But Lucy's continued battle against depression and the endless rounds of grueling surgery take their toll. She is lonely, insecure, lost. She experiments and then becomes addicted to drugs. Ann flies up to New York, reassures, calms, praises, calls every day. She loves Lucy.
That love is what makes this book remarkable, heartwarming, real. Yes, it's about people who have problems, are inadequate, battle and sometimes give into anger, fear, and pain. And yet they choose to love each other. It's true, and it's beautiful.