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Truth and Beauty: A Friendship
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/ Lead title Bestselling author and Orange Prize winner Ann Patchett's first work of non-fiction is a searing, emotionally wrenching account of her long friendship with the critically acclaimed, and recently deceased author, Lucy Grealy. / A moving memoir from the Orange Prize-winning author of Bel Canto / Bel Canto has sold over 120,000 copies in the UK alone to date

About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of four previous novels, Bel Canto which won the Orange Prize, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft and The Magician's Assistant. She writes for the New York Times Magazine, Elle, GQ, The Paris Review and Vogue. She lives in Nashville,TN.

Reviews

In her first nonfiction work, the author of the best-selling Bel Canto recounts her extraordinary relationship with poet Lucy Grealy, whose Autobiography of a Face memorably recounts her ordeal with cancer as a child and the subsequent operations to reconstruct her face. The two first met at Sarah Lawrence College and, after being accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, became roommates out of necessity. Their friendship began there and developed into an intellectually stimulating relationship that shaped them as both women and artists. They remained best friends until Grealy's tragic death in December 2002. To tell her story, Patchett effectively intersperses her memories with Grealy's letters and also considers how adults forge familial relationships. The result is a contemporary story of friendship and the writing life at once intense, honest, and heartbreaking. Most highly recommended for all libraries, whether public or academic.-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

'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

This memoir of Patchett's friendship with Autobiography of a Face author Lucy Grealy shares many insights into the nature of devotion. One of the best instances of this concerns a fable of ants and grasshoppers. When winter came, the hard-working ant took the fun-loving grasshopper in, each understanding their roles were immutable. It was a symbiotic relationship. Like the grasshopper, Grealy, who died of cancer at age 39 in 2002, was an untethered creature, who liked nothing more than to dance, drink and fling herself into Patchett's arms like a kitten. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars; Bel Canto) tells this story chronologically, in bursts of dialogue, memory and snippets of Grealy's letters, moving from the unfolding of their deep connection in graduate school and into the more turbulent waters beyond. Patchett describes her attempts to be a writer, while Grealy endured a continuous round of operations as a result of her cancer. Later, when adulthood brought success, but also heartbreak and drug addiction, the duo continued to be intertwined, even though their link sometimes seemed to fray. This gorgeously written chronicle unfolds as an example of how friendships can contain more passion and affection than any in the romantic realm. And although Patchett unflinchingly describes the difficulties she and Grealy faced in the years after grad school, she never loses the feeling she had the first time Grealy sprang into her arms: "[She] came through the door and it was there, huge and permanent and first." Agent, Lisa Bankoff. (May 14) Forecast: Patchett and Grealy are graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop, and alumni and other literary types will be interested in this book. National advertising and a reading group guide could make it popular among a more general women's audience. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-Lucy Grealy, whose Autobiography of a Face (HarperCollins, 1995) found critical acclaim as well as a popular readership, died two years ago. Patchett first met the poet in college, became her roommate in graduate school, and remained devoted to her through years of artistic, medical, economic, and emotional upheavals. The ties binding these two women included resolve to meet physical adversity with energy and to place friendship beyond the reaches of either habit or convenience. Patchett moves the story from their acclimation to one another through her friend's lifelong desire to gain a reconstructed face and the lengths to which she went in search of what she'd lost to childhood cancer, to Grealy's ultimate slide into drugs and suicidal ideations. Patchett's own self-perception as the straight arrow to her friend's daredevilry is disclosed across time, as is Grealy's increasingly frenetic chase for a reconstructed face and, as important, for fame earned through writing. In spite of the story unfolding through the years between college and near middle age, teenage girls will find it accessible and engaging. The author's clear-eyed depiction of the writer's life as requiring gigs waiting tables and suburban tract housing is refreshingly honest. She includes details of more glamorous moments as well; this is no cautionary tale, but a celebration of friendship and of craft.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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