Truth and Beauty is fairly controversial as biographies go. Lucy Grealy's family objected to Ann Patchett's presentation of Lucy Grealy; some critics felt there was an obvious lesbian aspect to the relationship between Grealy and Patchett that was downplayed and/or deliberately ignored, others felt that Patchett should have been more open about her own behavior and mistakes she made within the friendship.These are all fairly interesting questions and I am sure very important to the people most closely affected by them. However, I feel most compelled by the question that the book Truth and Beauty itself asks “what is the limits of friendship? What are the limits of love? Of saving?
It is an interesting comment on their friendship that even at the beginning it was never easy. So when things began to unravel, it's notable that Patchett is neither surprised nor even exactly, dismayed. One of the criticisms leveled at the book is that Patchett doesn't turn a critical eye on her own behavior both outside of, and within their friendship. But I don't think Patchett needs to call out her own behavior, the simple description of it is often enough to convey the message: this was not a person who was entire well, entire balanced.
One simple scene described in the book, a scene where Greeley tricks Patchett into wearing her skirt by first insulting it is fairly mild example of what I'm referencing: for the sake of the friendship, Patchett allowed herself to be manipulated, or at the very least, benevolently controlled. Was it for the greater good of Grealey, to sustain their friendship and ultimately rescue her? Or was it because Patchett was unable to say no for other reasons? Does it matter that their was ultimately, no saving Grealy from her life circumstances or from herself?