Book Review: Truth & Beauty: [A Friendship] by Ann Patchett (Audiobook)

Truth & Beauty is an exquisitely written and heartfelt evocation of a friendship. Reading it reminded me that most of the time we are incapable of saving anyone other than ourselves. We love, and that love may indeed be reciprocated, but we cannot pull someone back from the cliff of their own self-destruction by sheer force of will. Love is not a panacea. Losing someone we love is torture in its most essential form, distilled and pure. In the absence of someone we’ve loved more than our own lives, how do we reckon with what comes next in the aftermath? I don’t know that there’s an answer for this. Perhaps memory is the only thing that saves us. By committing to memory and the page everything that we hold dearest, we stave off our own oblivion, if only for the briefest of moments.

Perhaps memory is the only thing that saves us. By committing to memory and the page everything that we hold dearest, we stave off our own oblivion, if only for the briefest of moments.

I think that’s why Ann Patchett wrote Truth & Beauty. By writing about the love and friendship she shared with Lucy, everyone who reads it will know that there were once two friends named Ann and Lucy who loved each other with everything they had, and that death could not quell that love or erase its impact.

Favorite Quotes from the Book

We had invented time and could not kill it fast enough.

For the first time in my life I’ve found myself praying for actual things. Before I only prayed for stuff like wisdom and love and states of mind. These past few months, though, I’ve been much more materialistic. I want definite action on God’s part. Is this wrong? I worry that I’ll get punished somehow. I need to get out of this mess but I just don’t know how so I ask for his help.

From one of Lucy’s letters to Ann

She [Lucy] loved Christ for his suffering, for what they had in common. With all his strength, even Christ had asked if this burden could be lifted from him. The idea that pain was not a random thing, but a punishment of the evil upon the good, the powerful upon the weak, gave her something to rage against. After all, what is the point of being angry at nature when nature could care less? If you cried against barbarism, then at least you were standing up to a consciousness that could hypothetically be shaped. When Lucy believed that there were actually things in the world that were worse than what had happened to her, she could pull herself up on this knowledge like a rope. When she lost sight of it, she sank.

I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine on forever. Now it’s pretty obvious to me that more often than not, the batteries fade, and sometimes what you knew even goes out with a bang when you try to call on it just like a light bulb cracking off when you throw the switch.

From one of Lucy’s letters to Ann

History is strangely incomprehensible when you’re standing in the middle of it.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

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