Tuesday, March 12, 2013

{read: best friends forever} Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett

This is the story of the friendship between Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealey and a reminder that all stories don't end happily ever after.

Lucy struggles with depression throughout the book, despite the success of her own memoir, and her psychological issues keep her from ever being able to be happy and enjoy what she has — an abundance of great friends, an amazing talent as a writer, and an outgoing personality. All she can see is what she doesn't have — true love — and it tears her apart. Even her romantic relationships can't measure up to the ideal of true love that she's set before herself.

Ann loves her and does everything she can to save her, but it's not enough. She answers Lucy's mail for her, serves as a safe house during a particularly difficult period of Lucy's life, and is always on the other end of the phone, ready to reassure her and try to fill the cavernous need for love that Lucy has. Yet in the end, despite all her efforts, Ann loses her best friend after 20 years.

This reminds me in some ways of Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell, which chronicles the friendship between Gail and Caroline Knapp. Both memoirs of friendship were prefaced by memoirs written by the other half of the friendship which focused on individual stories. The memoirs by Ann and Gail come later, after their friends have died, and focus on the friendship more than their individual stories; of the two, Gail's tells more of her story than Ann's does.

I'd recommend both pairs, read in chronological order if possible, to anyone interested in stories about writers, women, and friendship. Gail's memoir also has a strong dog theme running through it, as both she and Caroline were dog lovers and owners.

Truth & Beauty (Harper Perennial, 2005)
My rating: 4 stars

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