Truth and Beauty is a thoroughly enjoyable book about an iron-strong friendship between two writers – Ann and Lucy. This true story follows their lives over twenty years from high school in Tennessee where they met, to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, then through various countries as they struggle to become writers, ending up in New York. Over the years the friendship persists through their struggles and successes. They support each other through all kinds of ‘attracting the wrong kind of boyfriend’ scenarios and life’s twists and turns deliver both great joy and heart-rending despair.
Early on there is a devastating visit to a renowned clairvoyant who tells Lucy that she will never find love, never have children and she will always be alone. Lucy lurches from one impossible situation to another; her finances are disastrous and her health is suffering as she constantly searches for her truth and beauty.
Lucy has been in pain from childhood cancer and has endured over thirty surgeries, always seeking a perfection that eludes her. Lucy lost part of her jaw to cancer; she had lost all of her lower teeth and all but six of her upper teeth so that eating was an ordeal. “Her jaw was irregular, as if one side had been collapsed by a brutal punch, and her neck was scarred and slightly twisted.” After enduring years of chemotherapy and radiation Lucy followed her harrowing childhood with endless years of reconstructive surgery, always seeking the physical beauty she dreamed of.
Lucy’s fame as an author arrived after her book Autobiography of a Face was published and she became the toast of both popular culture and all things literary. Lucy delighted in her fame, appearing on television and at events with a joy that is uplifting. Lucy loved all of it. She shone with the attention and adored her new lifestyle.
Ann wrote this memoir as a tribute to their friendship and she has included letters that track their closeness even when they were thousands of miles apart. The book is beautifully written and although their story is sometimes sad, it is compelling and honest. “I was constantly forgetting that Lucy had a set of problems that were different from everyone else’s or that her suffering extended beyond the usual limitations of love and money” wrote Ann, as she chronicles the daily challenges they both faced.
Their relationship is complicated and bitter-sweet. This memoir will touch your heart and make you wonder at your own friendships, although few friends would be as needy or as touching as Lucy is in her never-ending search for love. Ann’s tender and honest story of her love shines through her friend’s heartbreakingly tough journey through life. An uplifting and ever-so-difficult book to put down – a true delight to read.