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Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship Paperback – August 9, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
From the start of this profoundly beautiful story we know that Gail Caldwell loses her best friend Caroline Knapp. As she puts it so precisely, you can't "sidestep the cruelty of an intolerable loss." For about a third of this book the words were blurry because it is so moving. Just when I thought I had composed myself enough to read on, I cried again. Sometimes I'd read a sentence and reread it again and again because it was so true.
This is the story of two soul mates who love dogs, swimming and sculling. In some way it doesn't matter what they were doing, they just loved being together. After an outing they would find themselves both at home calling each other on the phone. Their friendship is deep, meaningful and essential!
There are some surprising details like how they both dated the same man. What are the chances of that happening? Then there is the fact that they both loved drinking at one point in their lives and overcame their addiction before meeting. Gail Caldwell talks briefly about her own drinking problem but mostly focuses on the friendship.
"Let's Take the Long Way Home" is a book that will work its way into your heart in ways few books ever will. I loved the warmth of Gail Caldwell's writing style and how she expresses such honest feelings in lucid prose. This is one of the best books I've read this year!
~The Rebecca Review
I was consumed by Knapp's own memoir, Drinking: A Love Story many years ago. I remember reading of Knapp's death not long after that and feeling so pained by the fact that she had survived alcoholism only to be robbed of her life just a few years later. Caldwell's book was like finding a missing piece for me, an intimate look into the lives of Knapp and Caldwell and the tremendous friendship they wove together through walks in the woods, long summer vacations together and countless hours on the phone. A friendship that close changes lives forever, but neither was prepared for what lie ahead.
It seemed perverse almost, that fate would tear these two souls apart and Caldwell chronicles her private suffering with unrelenting candor and despair. Not only could I see the hole in her heart, her brilliant storytelling allowed me to feel it to some degree. That's the mark of excellence in a good memoir. Let's Take the Long Way Home doesn't just tell a story. It takes us along for a walk in the woods and like Caldwell, at journey's end, we're never the same.
Highly recommended, esp. after reading Knapp's memoir.
Their lives contained many similarities. Both women are childless, single writers and former alcoholics who initially bond over their dogs, but their relationship deepens to the point where Gail says it was easy to mistake them for sisters or lovers.
Both women are loners which makes it seem kind of unlikely that they would form this lasting friendship, but their relationship works because they respect each other's boundaries and both believed in confronting problems head-on instead of stewing in silence.
Gail's account of her years as a functional alcoholic are stark and poignant. In one particularly bad moment, she passes out in a drunken stupor and breaks four ribs. This doesn't stop her from drinking and she fashions a portable bar by attaching a bag of ice and a flask of liquor to her crutches. It takes her a long time to accept that she was in fact an alcoholic and needed help to stop drinking. And unlike Caroline who'd written a book about her drinking problem, Gail never really liked to discuss this part of her life and they had been friends for a while before she ever broached the subject.
But despite all their other similarities, it is their devotion to their dogs that dominates most of the story. These women love their animals and spent lots of time and money training and caring for them.Read more ›
Caroline Knapp was the author of Drinking: A Love Story. I've wriiten about it on [...] because some of you surely have issues with alcohol, and I thought it might be of use. And because it's acutely observed and beautifully written. And because there's a painful irony here: Caroline got sober, only to die in June of 2002, when she was forty-two, seven weeks after she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.
Caroline Knapp had a best friend. Gail Caldwell. Also a writer. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2001. She too had alcohol issues.
Two women writers. Both dog lovers. Both recovering alcoholics. Both living alone, and liking it. Both athletes. Near-neighbors in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Friends. Best friends. One died. The other wrote a book: "Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship." [To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
There are men and women I love, and I think they know it, and I hope they know how incredibly lucky I feel that I'm in their lives, but we're talking about something else here, something deeper and more precious and, certainly, scarier.
"It's an old story," Caldwell begins. "I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that.''
Define everything. Well, rowing on the Charles River. Writing. Alcoholism. And, most of all, afternoon-long walk with their dogs:
"'Let's take the long way home,' she would say once we had gotten to the car, and then we would wend our way through the day traffic of Somerville or Medford, in no hurry to separate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of those books that you don't want to read the last page because you don't want it to end! So touching, honest and real. I can picture myself in the authors shoes. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Such a heart warming story of true friendship between two women. Tells of joys and sorrows, in a well- written tale. Wonderful!Published 27 days ago by RoseMarie Herman
This touching story of Friendship makes me envious I've not had a relationship like theirs! It is a lovely story of two women who share their lives and love their dogs. Read morePublished 1 month ago by nanifer
I picked this up on a total whim. No past relationship with the author's works. I literally just wanted a memoir about friendship. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Andre Washington
I loved Carolyn Knapp's books so I knew I'd love this one as well.Published 3 months ago by patnpugs