Reading guide for Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Truth and Beauty

A Friendship

by Ann Patchett

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett X
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2004, 257 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2005, 272 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the 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 Iowas Writers' Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about 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. 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 book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

Topics for Discussion
  1. Ann and Lucy shared a deep and intimate bond. Is it only possible to form a relationship like that in early adulthood -- before careers are fully formed and long-term romantic relationships and children enter the picture? In what ways are our relationships with friends different than ones with our family members? Are they always different?

  2. How does Lucy's struggle with illness and her own body shape her way of dealing with life and with the people around her? Lucy was an enormously talented writer. Did she use that gift as a way to make sense of life? Do you think writers and artists see the world differently, or more clearly, than other people?

  3. Ann chose to write about their friendship in a very frank and intimate way -- to pay tribute to Lucy's life and their whole relationship by recording the moments of triumph and joy, as well as the times of anguish and despair. Would you have the courage to be so honest?

  4. The writer's life seems to require a magical gift or creative spirit and incredible drive and focus. Are these qualities contradictory or complementary? What do you think enables writers to persevere through the years of "night jobs" in restaurants and bakeries while they work to realize their dream?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...
  • Book Jacket: Mothers of Sparta
    Mothers of Sparta
    by Dawn Davies
    What it's about:
    The tagline on the back cover of Mothers of Sparta says it all: "Some women...
  • Book Jacket: Fortress America
    Fortress America
    by Elaine Tyler May
    In Fortress America, Elaine Tyler May presents a fascinating but alarming portrait of America's...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Force of Nature
    by Jane Harper

    A riveting, tension-driven thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    As Bright as Heaven
    by Susan Meissner

    A story of a family reborn through loss and love in Philadelphia during the flu epidemic of 1918.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore

A gripping novel from the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

G O T P, B The P, F T P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.