Read Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell Online


“It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”So begins this gorgeous memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell, a testament to the power of friendship, a story of how an extraordinary bond between two women can illuminate the loneliest, funniest, hardest moments in life, including the final and ultimate“It’s an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too.”So begins this gorgeous memoir by Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell, a testament to the power of friendship, a story of how an extraordinary bond between two women can illuminate the loneliest, funniest, hardest moments in life, including the final and ultimate challenge.They met over their dogs. Both writers, Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story, became best friends, talking about everything from their shared history of a struggle with alcohol, to their relationships with men and colleagues, to their love of books. They walked the woods of New England and rowed on the Charles River, and the miles they logged on land and water became a measure of the interior ground they covered. From disparate backgrounds but with striking emotional similarities, these two private, fiercely self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen. The friendship helped them define the ordinary moments of life as the ones worth cherishing. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this moving memoir about treasuring and losing a best friend. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is a celebration of life and of the transformations that come from intimate connection—and it affirms, once again, why Gail Caldwell is recognized as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices....

Title : Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781400067381
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 190 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship Reviews

  • Cheri
    2019-05-24 17:18

    4.5 Stars“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” John Irving – “A Prayer for Owen Meany””Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived.”This memoir honors the exceptional friendship with her friend, a fellow writer, Caroline Knapp, how and where they met, their bond over their love of dogs, being writers, and recovering / recovered alcoholics. If, perhaps, there is one bond mentioned more frequently than others in this loving memoir, it is of their love of their dogs. Their dogs were their comfort zone, their way of having companionship that they could handle, it didn’t require much more from them than love, sharing their love of the outdoors with these wonderful creatures, and some food and water. Caroline Knapp had already written a memoir about her battle with alcoholism, “Drinking: A Love Story,” which Gail Caldwell knew when they met, and let Caroline know in a fairly casual way that she no longer drank, either. It wasn’t instant friendship, but it was a bonding moment, a moment letting them know there was something they knew about the other that could be a comfort – they could be themselves, scars and all.”It took me years to grasp that this grit and discomfort in any relationship are an indicator of closeness, not its opposite.”Both women loved deeply, not just each other as friends, but Caroline had a special man in her life and there was an ease between the three of them, bonded by their dogs, their writing, and their love of the outdoors…. Gail began to let her guard down more, worrying less about her fears that she’d already confided to her therapist. ”When I wept and told him I was afraid I was too intense, too much, he interrupted my tears and said, ’If someone came down from above and told me I could keep only one thing about you, it would be your too-muchness.’”This is really a lovely memoir, although the beginning was a bit too slow for me, but this is ultimately a shortened journey in friendship, when Caroline is diagnosed with a particularly fast moving lung cancer, and ultimately succumbs to it’s destructive force. “What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.”The grief, the living in a constant state of grief until that moment when you let your guard down and find that you’re smiling, even if it’s just an almost smile, and it feels almost like a betrayal. Grief must subside, before we can let it fly, but all those baby steps in between. ”It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”A very personal memoir, full of emotion, grief, love, sadness, and whatever passes for acceptance until struggling against the truth, that life is not really the way we believed it would be.”I had realized, as life is always willing to instruct, that the world as we see it is only the published version.”Recommended

  • Thomas
    2019-04-27 17:03

    Perhaps my new favorite first line of all time: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." This quote introduces Gail Caldwell's lyrical, wise, and compassionate tribute to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, who died at 42 due to lung cancer. The two shared many things: the craft of writing, a love for dogs, and a history with alcoholism. Upon meeting they forged an intense emotional bond after just a few conversations. Caldwell describes their friendship with honesty and depth, revealing how their mutual competitiveness complemented boosted them both, as well as how they responded to the others' sorrows. In the second half of the book Caldwell lays bare her grief after Knapp's passing, which brought me to tears two or three times. This passage displays the power of her writing, in which she describes the time when Knapp stayed in the hospital right before passing away:"All of this seems as though it were yesterday, or forever ago, in that crevasse between space and time that stays fixed in the imagination. I remember it all because I remember it all. In crisis with someone you love, the dialogue is as burnished as a scar on a tree. It shocks me now what I remember, though I suppose it shouldn't, because I have Caroline's voice fixed in my heart. That voice: the inflection, the range, the perfectly timed humor. This I would not lose."I also appreciated Let's Take the Long Way Home so much because of its focus on friendship. Caldwell and Knapp both emphasize their feminist values and their penchant for independence through their writing. Yet, Caldwell portrays their reliance on one another and their support of each other with conviction and eloquence. So often our society only pays attention to romantic love interests - just turn on the radio to any pop station - or family bonds. But Caldwell's memorial to Knapp shows the amazing potential of friendships to reach profound, heartrending heights.Overall, a stellar work of nonfiction. While Caldwell does spend a decent amount of the book discussing her dog, Clementine, for the most part she ties it back to Knapp. If you know me at all you know how much I love and honor Caroline Knapp - I consider her book Appetites my bible - so Let's Take the Long Way Home may have even more of an impact if you read one of Knapp's works first. All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in memoirs, grief, or precise, poignant writing.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-05-14 13:12

    If you loved Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, pick this up immediately. It’s a similar story of best friends: one who dies and one who survives. Caldwell’s best friend was Caroline Knapp (author of Drinking: A Love Story, among other nonfiction works), whom she met via puppy ownership in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They were both single and childless, full-time authors with a history of alcoholism. A “gregarious hermit,” Caldwell writes that she “wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the freedom to be left alone,” and Caroline offered a perfect mixture of respect for her solitude and gentle nudging to get out and face the world:Caroline knocked on the front door of my inner space, waited, then knocked again. She was persistent, she seemed smart and warmhearted … She seemed like someone for whom I wouldn’t mind breaking my monkish ways.They took long walks with their dogs and went swimming and rowing together, keeping up an ongoing conversation “about whether we were living our lives correctly … that ranged from the serious (writing, solitude, loneliness) to the mundane (wasted time, the idiocies of urban life, trash TV).” In 2002 Caroline, a devoted smoker, was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, an inoperable type that had already metastasized. Despite all their proactive optimism, she was dead a matter of weeks later.In this moving and accessible short memoir, Caldwell drifts through her past, their friendship, Caroline’s illness, and the years of grief that followed her loss of Caroline and then her beloved Samoyed, Clementine. She also shares what she has learned about bereavement:Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days. The real trick is to let life, with all its ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring that its end.I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.Highly recommended.

  • Roxann
    2019-05-19 20:14

    If I could give this an additional fractional star I would. Maybe 3.5 or 3.75. It has one of the best first lines I've ever read: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." I was hooked, and that's what I wanted to read about: the memoir of friendship, and unbearable loss. That's all in there and is so good. But I was distracted by the long, long story of the author's struggle with, and recovery from alcoholism which had happened years and years before the friendship and seemed such a detour from the theme of the book. Is it just a coincidence that Caroline Knapp (best friend - deceased - of the book) was a recovered alcoholic and had written a well-received memoir of her struggle? I get it that this is something they had in common, that perhaps it brought them closer, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the lengthy diversion was some kind of writing competition with her dead friend. "Let's see who can write the best AA memoir?" I just wanted to hurry through that part to get to the REAL story. All that aside, the book is, in the end, a touching and lucid narrative of an amazing friendship and then of insufferable grief and loss. I thought it was beautifully written; not particularly raw - not difficult to read in that way - but never overly romanticized or euphemistic either. And it's the story of Gail Caldwell, the author, going on with her life with a hole rent through it. The last part deserves 4 stars.

  • Amy
    2019-05-18 13:06

    I read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp a few months ago. I remember just inhaling it. Her writing was incredible. Smart, funny, real. When Ifinished it, I put the book down and went immediately to Amazon to read more ofher stuff. Which is when I discovered she had died of lung cancer in her early40s in 2002. The voice of her memoir was so clear, and her personality shonethrough and I felt sad to have lost such a voice.Christmas time I learned that Gail Caldwell (her very best friend) had written amemoir about her friendship with Caroline. I read it cover tocover in about 3.5 hours flat. It was that good. Gail is a wonderful writerand places her fingers so well on the soul of her friendship with Caroline, herown journey during the years they were friends, their relationships with theirdogs and ultimately, Caroline's death. There were a couple of places I justcried for them both, thought of my own best friends, and cried some more. Gailis also a recovering alcoholic, and she touches on this. Somewhere I read oncethat every woman should know the soul of a wonderful dog and another woman. Gail writes with incredible beauty of both.I highly recommend both books for all. Just wonderful, wonderful stuff.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-10 13:17

    Well, gosh, this was kind of disappointing, and I'm not sure why. Gail Caldwell's memoir of her long, tender friendship with Carolyn seems to have all the right ingredients - the friendship is warm, mature, and kind, their shared time is often poignant, it has a very sad, too-soon ending. I'm really struggling to figure out what I didn't like about it, except that it just seemed sort of boring. Perhaps it is the very maturity of the relationship, and the fact that Caldwell is clearly determined to protect her friend's privacy - the reasonable and ethical response of any good friend. The trouble is, good memoirs are not made of only good memories. They need a bit of dysfunction, a little crankiness, to resonate. It's the old "Happy families are all alike" problem. Also? I never felt I got to know Carolyn. For all the vaunted intimacy of the friendship, very little intimacy is actually shared with the reader; hearing about Carolyn's prowess in training dogs and rowing a boat isn't the same as learning what hurt her feelings, who she loved (or hated), and what her recurring nightmares were. I understand protecting a friend's privacy; I'm in favor of that, actually. But if you want to write a powerful memoir, well...maybe you have to choose between honesty and privacy.

  • Moira Russell
    2019-04-27 18:00

    The subtitle is misleading: this isn't so much a memoir of friendship as of the loss of that friendship. It's specifically about grief: that weird absence of the person you loved which is almost like a presence itself, a negative exposure: not their eyes, not their hair, not their voice.... When the book focuses on bereavement it's stunning. The friendship itself is not that well-portrayed, compared to, say, another writer's-memoir-of-a-dead-woman-writer-friend, Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. Despite declarations of how identical they are (which is odd, since Knapp already had an identical twin) you never really get a good sense of why these women were so bonded. This is possibly due to their strongest shared activities being nonintellectual: rowing, swimming, hiking, walking, dog training. Physical activity can be a real outlet for extremely analytical, intelligent people, but it can also be hard to describe in print. The two women also don't appear to have discussed their writing at all (even when Knapp portrayed their friendship in articles and books). Caldwell's treatment of her own recovery from alcoholism is especially perfunctory (again odd since that was yet another link between her and Knapp). The difficulty in feeling their closeness convincing is compounded because the book is not at all told in chronological order; you know Caroline is dead on the first page (indeed, you know it before you pick up the book, if you do, it was such an integral part of the marketing). Every memory is tinged with loss. What is present is absence; every memory of Caroline is now sad because memories are all that is left of her. Profound mourning, the reaction to the loss of someone who is loved, contains the same painful frame of mind, the same loss of interest in the outside world—in so far as it does not recall him—the same loss of capacity to adopt any new object of love (which would mean replacing him) and the same turning away from any activity that is not connected with thoughts of him.* In a sense, the book only comes to life when Caroline begins to die. Caldwell's flat, descriptive (as opposed to experiential) prose style suddenly catches fire and is terribly evocative to anyone who has lived through the waking nightmare of consultations with too many doctors, bedside vigils counting breaths, phone calls that turn into five alarm bells.Spoilers for the ending: (view spoiler)[Because of a spoiler in another GoodReads review, I knew Caldwell's dog Clementine had to be euthanized at the end of the book, but I thought this happened after the pit bull attack, and was glad I was wrong. The inclusion of Clementine's death feels somehow manipulative, despite its apparent suitability as the book's natural ending. It gets even worse when Caldwell passes a cemetery on her way to pick up a new puppy. (hide spoiler)] The required ending epiphany feels as manufactured as a closing moment in a bad New Yorker story.Despite this and other numerous flaws*** (this is also one of those shortish nonfiction memoirs that feels padded out from long-magazine-article length - the book would have been far better at either half or double its present length) this memoir may be seen as important because it shows a monumentally important cultural shift. Knapp and Caldwell were in the vanguard of the first generation of women who lived alone, and worked alone, and liked it, and weren't utter social pariahs. True, successful ambitious unmarried women are still often accused of either being "incomplete" women without maternal instincts, or who substitute ersatz companions like dogs or cats (or other women) for husband and children.** It's even worse if the unmarried ambitious woman likes dogs (or - far more stereotypically - cats. One can't evade the idea that just as these two women took up tough sports requiring physical endurance, and hard drinking, and newspaper reporting, and other culturally "macho" activities, they partly - consciously or not - chose dogs over cats). Their solitude, and their separate bonding with an individual dog to form a "pack of two" (which on occasion became a "pack of four" or more with both women and their dogs, and sometimes included other friends or Knapp's on-off boyfriend), was what they held in common. Women have always had close relationships with other women which may be stronger than marital or familial bonds, and women writers have frequently found companionship in dogs (strangely Caldwell only mentions Emily Dickinson and Carlo - she's rather nonliterary for a book reviewer - but there's Emily Bronte and Keeper, Anne Sexton and her dogs, Virginia Woolf, and so on). But this is one of the few books where those female relationships, and that animal companionship, are presented as precious on their own, not substituting for something else -- which, indeed, cannot be substituted for themselves. No human will offer the kind of immediate emotional sympathy an animal can; no husband, father or child will participate in and yet guard the emotional solitude Knapp and Caldwell shared. Knapp's loss is more than merely personal; it is the amputation of a unique, irreplaceable relationship.*Freud at the beginning of Mourning and Melancholia**Even successful women with families are not safe: in a recent Marie-Claire interview, Sallie Krawcheck was asked not just "What should a woman working on Wall Street wear?" but "Your career has been marked by early-morning starts and constant travel. Do you have regrets about how you raised your two children, now 18 and 15?"***That cover is nauseating. (Yes, I know this is not the author's fault. It just bugs me.) It looks like a dreadfully stereotypical "chick lit" book. Why not a picture of Knapp and Caldwell? Or Knapp and Caldwell with their dogs? Or the photograph she writes about in the text, taken by Mark Morelli, of their dogs waiting for the two women to come back from a walk? That sounds perfect. The paperback's cover is sort of better, but looks like something by Norman Maclean.

  • David Quinn
    2019-05-13 21:14

    Having run across the dust cover description a few months ago I was looking forward to reading this book. Just the title implied a warm and deep sense of friendship. Unfortunately for me I felt the author was trying too hard to impress the reader with her intellect rather than just allow simple emotions and straightforward language convey the connection between these friends.There's a brief introduction about how they became acquainted and almost suddenly they're soul mates. Six years after forming a friendship, the best friend she will ever have, as the author describes her deceased friend, passes away. Yet other than a coincidental connection of addictions to alcohol and cigarettes; a love of dogs; careers as writers and athletic competitiveness I never came to understand their deep connection. There are lots of metaphors and background about the author to suggest she's an elitist struggling with a fragile ego but not nearly enough to tell me why their friendship was so magical.The book does a much better job conveying the connection between the author and her beloved Samoyed, Clementine. I truly wish the author could have accomplished the same when describing her bond with her dear friend Caroline Knapp.

  • Nancy Kennedy
    2019-05-01 13:02

    "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."With this lyrical sentence, Gail Caldwell opens her story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp. Both its gentleness and its foreboding draw the reader in to this finely told tale of love and grief.Not many people treasure a friendship as deeply as did these two writers who for most of their lives were introverted, and content to be so. "As much as I complained about my solitude, I also required it," Ms. Caldwell writes. Yet in the end, the two women's lives become so entwined in friendship that Ms. Caldwell can say, "My life had made so much sense alongside hers."The women share their many passions, especially those of writing and of their dogs. Their friendship blossoms in parks and along trails as they walk their pets. They also encourage each other in their separate passions of swimming and rowing. Each woman becomes open to learning and excelling at the other's sport, and another strong bond is formed. Ms. Caldwell also explores their shared history as recovered alcoholics.As a woman who must absorb the loss of her friend in death, Ms. Caldwell writes thoughtfully about how "the heart breaks open." Every friend would wish to be remembered as lovingly as Ms. Caldwell has memorialized her friend Caroline Knapp.

  • Maria
    2019-05-20 19:14

    Em jeito de um pequeno diário onde conta a sua história e, sobretudo, a intensa amizade com Caroline e culminaria com a morte desta com um cancro do pulmão, Gail Caldwell transporta-nos para o seu mundo tão imperfeito como o de qualquer um de nós.Partindo sempre desta grande amizade, depressa nos apercebemos das fraquezas da autora, alcoólica recuperada, mas também das enormes semelhanças com a sua melhor amiga. Por serem tão parecidas Gail e Caroline eram como uma espécie de almas gémeas, uma amizade que é difícil de encontrar. Ambas partilham o gosto pela escrita e também por cães. Por isso mesmo, que Um longo Regresso a Casa relata também a história da sua cadela Clementine e o quanto ela foi importante na sua vida e como esteve sempre nos momentos mais tristes e de isolamento.Gail demonstrou aqui que a verdadeira amizade está no cerne de tudo e movimenta as nossas vidas. Sem ela nada somos.Um livro fabuloso que recomendo, sobretudo quem nutre assim um sentimento grande por um amigo. Eu tenho a sorte de ter uma amiga assim.

  • Sue
    2019-05-02 21:04

    In this "memoir of friendship", Gail Caldwell gives us a loving view into her life with her dog Clementine which provided her entree into a life-changing friendship with Caroline Knapp, a fellow author and dog-lover.Through a mutual acquaintance, she was introduced to this woman who would become a soulmate. They challenge each other in multiple ways to become their personal best. Their friendship developed over years until Caroline's diagnosis with terminal lung cancer . It's difficult to adequately describe my reaction to reading this book. As I read I found pieces of myself and stages of my life, not so much in specific details as in the general flow of life and stages of growth. Initially I was thinking of rating this as 4 but when I realized how much I want to read it again and the effect it has had on me this week as I contemplate important friendships in my life, I've decided it needs to be rated 5.

  • Jan
    2019-05-15 13:18

    A memoir about friendship, the death of a friend, dogs, tough life moments, alcoholism, living.Some of my favorite quotes:It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.The only education in grief that any of us ever gets is a crash course. I thought grief was a simple, wrenching realm of sadness and longing that gradually receded. What that definition left out was the body blow that loss inflicts, as well as the temporary madness, and a range of less straightforward emotions shocking in their intensity.Everything about death is a cliché until you're in it....death left me with a great and terrible gift: how to live in a world where loss, some of it unbearable, is as common as dust or moonlight.The dead protect us. I feel this now with an almost fierce relief. Courage under fire....And whether one attributes this attachment to memory or to God, it is a consolation unlike any I have known. Thou art with me.Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days. The real trick is to let life, with all its ordinary missteps and regrets, be consistently more mysterious and alluring than its end.The heart breaks open. I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.

  • Maria
    2019-05-17 20:56

    Não foi fácil para mim ler este livro. De facto li-o rapidamente pois queria acaba-lo e não voltar a pensar nele. Porque a história que nele é retratada é dolorosamente familiar para mim. Narra-nos a amizade entre duas mulheres, que em comum tem o amor pelos cães e problemas de alcoolismo. Uma dela morre de cancro e a outra conta o que as uniu, a sua doença inesperada, a falta que a amiga lhe faz... Porque me é dolorosamente familiar? O meu pai teve um AVC aos 43 anos e tendo ficado paralisado do lado esquerdo, sem perspetiva de poder levar uma vida normal, entregou-se ao alccolismo. Eu tinha 5 anos mas lembro-me muito bem de algumas coisas dolorosas que se passaram por causa disso. Mas sempre soube que ele me amava muito e eu a ele. Depois de muitos anos de sofrimento teve um cancro na próstata do qual veio a falecer tinha eu 19 anos. Perdi a minha mãe com 36 anos e fiquei sozinha, sem a minha família de origem. Revi todas estas "dores" e traumas pelos quais passei e o que ficou depois de ler este livro foi uma vontade enorme de passar a minha história para livro, partilhar com toda a gente a minha vida. Gosto de escrever, quem sabe se não o farei um dia destes....

  • Patrícia
    2019-04-29 15:10

    Ainda mais que o amor, a amizade é uma partilha de sentimentos sem a qual não se consegue viver. É a segurança de se ter alguém em quem confiar, o conforto de sermos ouvidos durante horas e a alegria de se sentir que existe uma pessoa no mundo que verdadeiramente gosta de nós pelo que somos e pelo que acreditamos. Quando essa amizade é perdida, forma-se um vazio tal no nosso peito que nada o conseguirá voltar a encher... mas quando essa amizade morre, como seremos capazes de continuar sem ela? Como seremos capazes de a ultrapassar e, simplesmente, agradecer pelo tempo que tivemos em vez de injuriar pelo que nos foi roubado?‹‹Um Longo Regresso a Casa›› não é uma obra comum. Não é agradável, não é conexa e muito menos é feliz. Este é um romance que visa eternizar a maior e mais intensa amizade que a autora, Gail Caldwell, teve o prazer de partilhar com Caroline, e que sabe, a partir do momento em que a perde, que nunca mais encontrará ninguém como aquela que lhe fugiu por entre os dedos. Por ser especial, por ser imprescindível e insubstituível, Calwell escreveu este livro, num estilo extremamente corrido e vívido, onde se debate, numa constante, não só com um passado conturbado e marcado por inúmeros erros, como com um futuro incerto e um pouco mais leviano, agora que Caroline partiu para outro plano.Opinião completa, em:http://pedacinho-literario.blogspot.c...

  • K
    2019-05-13 19:19

    Using my new Nook is so much fun, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to carry me through this book. I barely made it through 50 pages.The writing showed a lot of promise, and I was hoping that this memoir of a friendship would have the poignancy and insight of Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. It started off good, as Caldwell wrote about the loss of her friend. The book quickly became boring, though, as it evolved into a lengthy and detailed discussion of dog-raising (not a topic that grabs me) followed by a drawn-out description of the author's alcoholism as a young adult.The high average goodreads rating and the book's listing by Amazon as a Best Book of 2010 suggest that I'm in the minority here, but despite my being spared the need to hold a thick book or the dreadful annoyance of turning pages (who knew?), I simply wasn't motivated to read any farther.

  • Susan Ideus
    2019-05-08 16:07

    Gail Caldwell celebrates her extraordinary friendship withfellow writer Caroline Knapp in LET"S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. It is atouching, honest, and often humorous look at their relationship–howthey met, why they bonded, and what kept them together. Her memoriesare clear and deep, and she shares them all, not shying away from theunpleasant nor overwhelming with the too saccharine.Both women were recovering alcoholics; both were writers; both lovedtheir dogs beyond normal reason. It was this latter commonality thatbrought them together in the first place. They talked about their dogsas other women might their children. They were always together, dogsand masters, whether in training, walking, or vacationing. Both womenwere competitive. Caldwell excelled in swimming and Knapp in rowing.Each taught the other her sport while still maintaining an edge. Theirpersonalities complemented one another, as is the case of many lastingfriendships. Caldwell was the risk-taker, the bold one, while Knappwas the more conservative good girl. They simply loved sharing lifeand Knapp would often say at the end of a day, “Let’s take the longway home…”While neither hid her addiction from the other, it was not a regulartopic of conversation; it was a silent partner in their relationshipalways lending an immediate depth that might have otherwise takenyears to develop. Of it Caldwell says, “Deeper than most of the mostobvious parallels between us was the drinking history we had incommon–that empty room in the heart that is the essence ofaddiction.” It did not rule their relationship, but rather lent it aspecial sensitivity, a knowing of the other.Caldwell later remarks “…the real need was soldered by the sadder, harder moments–discord or helplessness or fear–that we dared to expose to each other. It took me years to grasp that this grit and discomfort in any relationship are the indicator of closeness, not its opposite.”As they shared every aspect of their lives, expecting to go on intoold age as best friends, there came an event which blind-sided themboth. Knapp was diagnosed with a virulent fast-moving lung cancer.“Before one enters this spectrum of sorrow, which changes even thecolor of trees, there is a blind and daringly wrong assumption thatprobably allows us to blunder through the days. There is a way onethinks that the show will never end–or that loss, when it comes, willbe toward the end of the road, not in its middle.”From that time forward, life as they knew it spiraled away from them.Here was the one experience they couldn’t truly share, but they couldand would go through it together. As quickly as this phase of theirlife began, it was over–Knapp’s death coming more quickly than anyonecould have anticipated. Now there was just left to Caldwell to go onwith life with a hole rent through it. Nothing would or could ever bethe same. Life would now be processed through a different lens. “Whatthey never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simplepart.”This is as honest a narrative of friendship, loyalty, loss, and griefas I have ever read. Caldwell’s words are powerful and genuine, andwill gladden your heart with the good times, and wrench your soul withtheir stark pain. Caldwell is that kind of writer, and readers will bethe richer for reading this book.AuthorInfo: Author info: Gail Caldwell is the 2001 Pulitzer Prizewinner for Criticism. She is the former chief book critic for theBoston Globe where she worked for over twenty years. She has alsopublished a memoir of growing up in the Amarillo, Texas area–A StrongWest Wind. She holds two degrees in American Studies from theUniversity of Texas at Austin. She currently resides in Cambridge,Massachusetts.I received a copy of this book for review from the author, publisher, or publicist.

  • Desiree Koh
    2019-05-09 12:50

    Gail Caldwell wrote “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” to remember her friend Caroline Knapp, who died way too soon. It’s a memoir of their friendship – how they met, why their friendship was so profound, the devastation of being forcibly separated and without warning. Caldwell is a notable, skilful writer and I was excited to read her interpretation of something that is so close and near to my heart – friendship.Her prose is beautiful, and what takes it from poetry on a page to something integrally existential that’s been inserted into your heart is recognizing everything Caldwell describes and recounts. Same stories, different characters. Same context, different content. For the first part of her narrative, I almost wanted to cry with each page, because I saw and recognized so much of the emotions and the reasons for treasuring your best friend. But then, Caldwell abruptly parted ways when she started to talk about her battle with alcoholism, which is when the book started to be all about her, and friendships aren’t just about one person. I appreciate what she went through – it was actually very well-written and heart-wrenching, and it helped me understand the sadness and weakness of the addiction more than I ever had – but it wasn’t what I had come for. There was a reason for including this in the book – both Caldwell and Knapp had been recovered alcoholics – but the problem was that this chapter went on way too long, and from then on, the book became all about her.And maybe that was why she wrote it, to help her come to terms with the loss, so it was really supposed to be about her, but like the unraveling of Gail Caldwell through alcoholism and the grief over Caroline Knapp’s death, so does the book spiral into an unwelcoming abyss of self-indulgence and mental meanderings. Caldwell starts to come across as that crazy, single, older dog lady – and she is. I suppose there wasn’t any other way to tell the story – it’s not like Caroline’s death was anticipated and she could have been able to tell about the friendship from another perspective. And there would have been no other or better way to recognize the friendship than by sharing her grief. But, I stopped making markings because the writing felt simpler and less pretty as the book went on and I stopped relating to Caldwell. Maybe it’s because my best friend isn’t dying, or has died. This is the book I hope neither of us ever has to write.I can’t explain rationally why I stopped liking the book. I’m not doing Caldwell’s craft any justice I’m sure. It doesn’t help that I dislike dogs, which are at the core of Caldwell and Knapp’s friendship – their love for their dogs brought them together. Perhaps I expected grief to be more heightened, maybe more dramatic to lend itself to more beautiful prose. But that is not the reality of devastation through loss and Caldwell might have done us all a favor by letting us know the truth.

  • Pixelina
    2019-04-30 16:13

    Another memoir of grief, this time the sorrow of losing a best friend, but also about the great joy in finding her in the first place. Gail meets Caroline, 8 years younger then her, but also a writer and also a recovering addict and just as crazy as she is about dogs. They almost grow into one, they each get involved with every aspect of each others lives and share swimming, rowing, walking and training dogs.I've read a lot of books on grief lately, perhaps because my parents are getting up there in age and are not so healthy, it's like my brain needs to prepare even now for the worst. How to let time and your own body heal the wounds of a loss.Most poignant moment for me in the book was when Gail found a note she wrote for the script to this book and it spelled out loud and clear 'LET HER DIE' as in dare to go to that place, dare to shift from living wonderful Caroline to the hole Caroline left and not just in the book but in life too. Let her die. Let her be a loss, the imaginary friend, the guardian angel. Of course it also deals with the loss of a beloved pet, that can be just as hard to get over. Coming home to an empty house, going on walks alone seems almost not worth the time. How could any new puppy take the place of a companion you had for 13 years?

  • Chris
    2019-05-18 17:02

    A tender and heart-wrenching memoir about female friendship, dogs, love, loss, and truth. We should all be so lucky to find a friendship like Gail and Caroline shared in our own lives.

  • Antonia
    2019-05-26 14:08

    Beautiful, moving memoir of a precious friendship. I loved everything about it. And I cried.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-01 17:16

    Gail Caldwell has written a stunningly beautiful tribute to her friendship with Carolyn Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story. She recounts their time together, their shared love of dogs, the water, writing, and struggles with alcoholism. She illuminates the secret language of friends. So many times during the book, Caldwell caused me to pause over her simple, yet profound thoughts on grieving, friendship, and living:"It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."“It's taken me years to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue.”“Like a starfish, the heart endures its amputation.”“Death is a divorce nobody asked for; to live through it is to find a way to disengage from what you thought you couldn't stand to lose.”“I would be the sensitive heroine, or doomed romantic, or radical bohemian – I was Hamlet, Icarus, Edith Wharton's Lily Bart. God forbid that I simply face who I was, which was somebody drunk and scared and on my way to being no one at all.”“I have a photograph from one of those summers at Chocorua, framing the backs of my dog and Caroline’s, Clementine and Lucille, who are silhouetted in the window seat and looking outside. It is the classic dog photo, capturing vigilance and loyalty: two tails resting side by side, two animals glued to their post. What I didn’t realize for years is that in the middle distance of the picture, through the window and out to the fields beyond, you can make out the smallest of figures—an outline of Caroline and me walking down the hill. We must have been on our way to the lake, and the dogs, now familiar with our routine, had assumed their positions. Caroline’s boyfriend, Morelli, a photographer, had seen the beauty of the shot and grabbed his camera. I discovered this image the year after she died, and it has always seemed like a clue in a painting—a secret garden revealed only after it is gone . . . . Like most memories tinged with the final chapter, mine carry the weight of sadness. What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.”"I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship is at once a requiem and a romance. I will not forget the equal feelings of sadness and joy aroused by Caldwell's evocative prose. Friendship like this is rare.

  • Amy
    2019-05-22 20:19

    Although I was not taken with this book, I completely understand how someone might be. I didn't seem to connect with the story in the way that it appears others have. I would even go so far as to say that I had to push my way through the book. I didn't feel myself connecting with the material so I was having to force myself through it at times. Ultimately, this memoir was just ok for me. I can't even say that it was good. Yet, it doesn't feel bad, per se. Just nothing special. Nothing that really will stick with me once I put the book down. Everything about this book had potential to hit me in the gut but it just seemed to fall short for me. I didn't connect with either of the women or their relationship. Neither of them or their journeys really came alive for me. The reading experience made feel as if I was watching a so-so movie that was constantly failing to make me FEEL anything. I'm reading about this intense friendship and the loss experienced by the author and just not feeling it. I should have been crying. I should have been devastated, given the events. Yet, I just wasn't feeling it. Which is simply disappointing and really made the reading of the book not particularly affecting.Although there were small moments that I loved in the book - mostly thoughts on loss which spoke to me. Things that I wrote down to think about again later. One that comes to mind readily is Gail Caldwell's statement that "I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures." Wow. That really spoke to me. If only more of the book had spoken to me like those few sentiments. All in all, the writing and the language chosen just didn't do it for me. I felt it didn't live up to the events themselves. The events described in this book are amazing ... the way that these two women came together in friendship and changed each others lives so incredibly. That is fantastic ... however, the telling of those events in this book just missed the mark for me. I'm sorry that I didn't love it as so many others have. I recommend it if you want to read about an intense friendship, one that is pretty amazing. I recommend it if you've lost someone special to you as there are great things in this memoir about loss and grieving. The bottom line is that most people that I know who have read it really loved it. Perhaps you will as well ...

  • Ryan
    2019-04-26 20:15

    How does one write a review of a book about loss and grief when one is stricken by loss in grief in the midst of reading said book? This is precisely what happened to me when my Westie, McDougal, had to be put to sleep — quite suddenly and quite unexpectedly at the age of 14 — just as I was arriving at the point in Gail Caldwell's memoir where she loses her best friend to cancer. Was it coincidence? A cruel cosmic joke? Something more? I don't have the answer (or can't admit to it), but that I was reading exactly the sort of book I would never choose for myself (my wife, Megan, insisted) precisely when I would suffer my own heartbreak has me searching for answers to questions I've rarely, if ever, contemplated.After McDougal's passing, I couldn't bring myself to return to "Let's Take the Long Way Home" for several weeks. When I did it was only to cruelly discover that, in addition to losing her friend, Gail Caldwell loses her dog, too: "Clementine was with me for four more years." That opening line in the final chapter sent me into a tailspin for several more weeks. Then tonight, a month after burying my beloved McDougal, I forced myself to push through. The worst of it was already out there: Gail's friend and dog were dead, and so too was McDougal.As far as books about loss and grief not being my thing go, I found Gail Caldwell's writing real and honest and laced with a minimal amount of preciousness. So I found myself carried along, even while never really caring about the characters in the story. What "Let's Take the Long Way Home" did do for me, however, was to help me place my own ongoing grief in perspective, to allow me to see my own sorrow through another's understanding of loss and cast that lens back onto my own memories of my life with McDougal. What more can I ask of a book?

  • Bill Breedlove
    2019-05-26 20:09

    This is a memoir of the author's friendship with another author, Caroline Knapp. Caroline Knapp wrote some of my favorite books, including PACK OF TWO (a bit about the human-canine bond but mostly about her bond with her dog Lucille) and THE MERRY RECLUSE which is a collection of her columns. Sadly, Knapp was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and seven weeks later passed away. This book chronicles Caldwell's friendship with Knapp, which was set in motion by both of them being single women who cared deeply about their dogs, and comparing their experiences. It's difficult to me to evaluate this book, I felt like there was more information about Ms. Caldwell and her difficulties going through life than was necessary to understand her subsequent friendship with Ms. Knapp, and less actual exploration of that connection they shared. The book does have some anecdotes, but most of those are of the "tell not showing" variety, by which instead of letting a scene unfold, Ms. Caldwell has to tell the reader what each pause and comment means in the larger context of the relationship. I understand this must have been a very difficult book for Ms. Caldwell to write about the loss of her closest friend, and it is indeed difficult to translate effectively the "shorthand" that close fiends use with one another. I do not feel that I learned very much about Ms. Knapp from this book, but I did learn quite a bit about Ms. Caldwell. That is not a bad thing, but that was not exactly my expectation before I began reading. The language, except as mentioned when telling us what things mean, is quite nice. Ms. Caldwell writes very precise and pristine sentences. I recommend it.

  • Joana
    2019-05-05 17:05

    Sendo uma obra autobiográfica que visa a relação da autora Gail Caldwell com a sua falecida amiga Caroline, "Um Longo Regresso a Casa" não é uma estória com um final feliz, mas não menos especial e comovente.Através desta obra, Gail imortaliza a sua amizade profunda pela sua querida amiga, descrevendo-nos pormenorizadamente essa ligação tão intensa a que apenas alguns seres humanos têm acesso.Embora um livro pequeno e com letras de tamanho garrafal, não é, de todo, uma leitura fácil ou rápida, devido ao seu conteúdo pesado e com o qual facilmente nos identificamos, como é o meu caso, tornando a leitura por vezes extremamente pessoal, ao ponto de impossibilitar a nossa capacidade de passar às seguintes páginas."Um Longo Regresso a Casa" trata-se da forma de Gail Caldwell fazer o luto por Caroline, dando ao leitor a oportunidade de conhecer o seu processo pesaroso e sofrido como uma forma terapêutica de ultrapassar o desgosto, motivando o leitor, que vive, viveu ou viverá a mesma situação, a seguir em frente.Como já confessei, a leitura não foi fácil ou rápida, mas não deixou de me agradar, com toda a sua emoção, familiaridade e inevitabilidade.Gostaria de conseguir expor em palavras todos os sentimentos controversos que este livro despoletou em mim, mas devido ao seu teor pessoal e sentimental, não me chegam as palavras exactas para o fazer.Deveras intensa, esta obra é marcante, tal como a pretensão da autora ao escrevê-la!

  • Francesca
    2019-05-21 13:52

    It's hard to comment on a book written about someone who was once a close friend. Memoirs, especially the chick- lit kind, seem to be a genre in itself; I can't help wondering whether the subject matter, if reinvented and re-imagined,might make a better novel than what's currently on the page. There seems to be a hunger for books about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships told from a middle-aged female point of view, but I find they go right through me, like an article in a woman's magazine, nothing sticks. What's the book about? Grief, loss, friendship, dogs, I suppose, but it slipped right through me, and left me with more questions, specifically about this genre and why it appeals to so many of my contemporaries and not me. I want to read a book by a woman my age, and say, wow, I wish I'd written that, instead of, this seems like a rip off. Admittedly, I'm biased, the woman who's the "friend" in this book, and her twin sister were my friends in grammar school, so I can't be objective about them. What's fascinating to me about my generation is that there seems to be almost an epidemic of substance abuse -- amongst the educated, and accomplished (as well as the not so accomplished) born between 1955-1965, and how many lives have been destroyed as a result of these debilitating illnesses and additions.

  • Ali
    2019-05-25 15:11

    I wanted to read this book as soon as I found out that it was about the author's friendship with Caroline Knapp, who had written with brutal, eloquent honesty about her struggle with alcohol in Drinking: A Love Story. When I learned that Caroline had actually died from cancer 8 years after she stopped drinking, reading this book became an obsession. It felt almost like a betrayal, that she died after she had ended her memoir on such a positive, strong note. I had to read about the end of her life to make sense of it. I don't think I would have liked this memoir had I not had such a strong affinity toward Caroline already. The writing is difficult to penetrate; it doesn't let you in as easily, but there is so much beneath the surface. Which is actually a pretty good description of the author as well. But it was interesting to read about Caroline from another perspective, completing the story of her life and death. I was crying by the end, and I can only hope to have a friendship like these two experienced.I am looking forward to reading Caroline's book Pack of Two. In a way I wish I had read that one before this one, because this feels like a conclusion to a long, winding journey.

  • Cynthia Hamilton
    2019-05-13 13:04

    A dear friend of mine, who is also a writer and an avid reader, sent this book to me as a gift. Even though it started out slowly, I could see why my friend thought so highly of this memoir to share it with me. It is quite literary and personal; there are passages in the book that are beautifully written. But the story really hooked me when the author began to share her own experience with alcoholism. It was then that I was completely drawn into her world and could see the naked honesty in which she revealed what it's like to live a dual existence - the dedicated professional and the insecure drinker who could never leave town with out hefty provisions of booze. The relationship between the two authors became more real to me after that; I was able to understand and feel the profound bonds she had alluded to earlier. It also explained her deep desire for solitude and why finding, and then losing, someone who fit her character and experiences so perfectly had such a profound effect on her life. This memoir has a lot to offer and I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a tale of friendship, heartache and triumph.

  • Elphaba J
    2019-05-17 19:49

    Quando acontece, a morte de alguém que nos é intimamente querido, existe uma parte de nós que se fragmenta, que congela no espaço e se separa da nossa alma. É nesse momento, em que ficamos suspensos no tempo, que o nosso inconsciente dá início a uma batalha olímpica com muitas fases e diversos tipos de sofrimento, uma batalha aparentemente infinita até ao instante em que o nosso espirito, entorpecido, ressuscita para aquilo que se designa de prosseguir com a vida.Um Longo Regresso a Casa retracta a reflexão, após a ausência, do crescimento e consolidação de um amor tangível. Um amor capaz de ultrapassar a barreira da perda, um amor que cresceu entre duas mulheres, amigas, que juntas eram uma única vida com a sintonia perfeita que apenas pode representar as almas gémeas.Gail Caldwell aproxima-se do leitor espelhando o reflexo de si própria, o que se traduz numa escrita simples, bonita e extremamente pessoal, quase informal, em jeito de confidência abrindo-se totalmente para o leitor numa demonstração de amor.Opinião completa:

  • Filipa
    2019-05-19 19:04

    Um livro maravilhoso sobre a amizade e tudo o que se pode encontrar nela, desde os acontecimentos bons até aos maus e até mesmo à sua perda..... Um livro que para além da amizade como pano de fundo, fala ao longo de todo o livro do profundo amor pelos cães, um amor que é partilhado por mim e que entendo perfeitamente....Um livro que demonstra como se pode dar a volta por cima estando envolta no desgosto, sentindo angústia e ansiedade em todo o percurso e também como podemos contar com pessoas que nos enlevam quando precisamos e quando pensamos que não precisamos.... Para além de tudo isto, ainda existe o amor pelo desporto e a volta por cima das vicissitudes da vida... por isto tudo e muito mais adorei ler este livro pequenino mas grande ;P