It scared, horrified and saddened me to read about Lucy's brilliance wasted by pain and selfishness. A selfishness learned from a lifetime of clinging to vines on the edge of the cliff, watching them give way and grabbing for the next one, falling a few feet, clambering back up to the edge, getting to the edge but never far enough away from it to know what it’s like not to be on it.
This book makes me think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk about genius and how making people geniuses has killed them because now they're personally responsible for all their creative work. They are no longer conduits for genius, they are the precious material that flows – or doesn’t flow. And when it doesn’t flow, when they can’t flow, they want to die. I think this was only partly Lucy’s problem. The other part is an unwillingness to be ordinary. She could never be completely ordinary but she could have given up her maddening desires and quieted her soul and she didn’t.
Technically speaking, the letters were difficult to read because of the italics and lack of paragraphing. But this is my only complaint.
Patchett manages a beautiful real true portrait – in the painterly sense – of a person and a friendship and it’s gorgeously written. I can tell she’s done this before and she thought a lot about this one before she wrote it and/or she drew on earlier writings to complete it. I had to remind myself to think about the writing, which is not something I’ve had to do recently. I can see the difference between seasoned authors and new ones.