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

( 104 )

Overview

In Let's Take the Long Way Home, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Gail Caldwell offers a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life and her extraordinary friendship with Caroline Knapp, the author of Drinking: A Love Story.

In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion and independence, a passion for books, and an aversion to intimacy and a distrust of others. Then, while living in Cambridge in her early forties, Caldwell adopted a rambunctious ...

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

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Overview

In Let's Take the Long Way Home, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Gail Caldwell offers a powerful and moving memoir about her coming-of-age in mid-life and her extraordinary friendship with Caroline Knapp, the author of Drinking: A Love Story.

In her younger years, Caldwell defined herself by rebellion and independence, a passion for books, and an aversion to intimacy and a distrust of others. Then, while living in Cambridge in her early forties, Caldwell adopted a rambunctious puppy named Clementine. On one of their bucolic walks, she met Caroline and her dog, Lucille, and both women's lives changed forever.

Though they are more different than alike, these two fiercely private, independent women quickly relax into a friendship more profound than either of them expected, a friendship that will thrive on their shared secrets, including parallel struggles with alcoholism and loneliness. They grow increasingly inseparable until, in 2003, Caroline is diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.

In her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion and grief in this wise and affecting account about losing her best friend. Let's Take the Long Way Home is also a celebration of life and all the little moments worth cherishing—and affirms why Gail Caldwell is rightly praised as one of our bravest and most honest literary voices.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"I can still see her standing on the shore, a towel around her neck and a post-workout cigarette in hand—half Gidget and half Splendid Splinter, her rower's arms in defiant contrast to the awful pink bathing suit she'd found somewhere. It was the summer of 1997, and Caroline and I had decided to swap sports." With these first chapter words, Gail Caldwell's best friend Caroline Knapp enters our lives, easing her way into an intimacy that one doesn't expect from strangers. The vivid word portrait that Caldwell lovingly constructs of her now deceased bosom buddy is more than a personal tribute; it is a celebration of friendship itself and a study in surviving loss. A bittersweet memoir by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. A Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Julie Myerson
This may be a book about death and loss, but Caldwell's greatest achievement is to rise above all that to describe both the very best that women can be together and the precious things they can, if they wish, give back to one another: power, humor, love and self-respect.
—The New York Times
Heller McAlpin
You can shelve Let's Take the Long Way Home, Gail Caldwell's beautifully written book about the best friend she lost to cancer in 2002, next to The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's searing memoir about losing her husband to heart failure. But that's assuming it makes it to your shelf: This is a book you'll want to share with your own "necessary pillars of life," as Caldwell refers to her nearest and dearest…Her memoir, a tribute to the enduring power of friendship, is a lovely gift to readers.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Caldwell (A Strong West Wind) has managed to do the inexpressible in this quiet, fierce work: create a memorable offering of love to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, the writer (Drinking: A Love Story) who died of lung cancer at age 42 in 2002. The two met in the mid-1990s: "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." Both single, writers (Caldwell was then book critic for the Boston Globe), and living alone in the Cambridge area, the two women bonded over their dog runs in Fresh Pond Reservoir, traded lessons in rowing (Knapp's sport) and swimming (Caldwell's), and shared stories, clothes, and general life support as best friends. Moreover, both had stopped drinking at age 33 (Caldwell was eight years older than her friend); both had survived early traumas (Caldwell had had polio as a child; Knapp had suffered anorexia). Their attachment to each other was deeply, mutually satisfying, as Caldwell describes: "Caroline and I coaxed each other into the light." Yet Knapp's health began to falter in March 2002, with stagefour lung cancer diagnosed; by June she had died. Caldwell is unflinching in depicting her friend's last days, although her own grief nearly undid her; she writes of this desolating time with tremendously moving grace. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"An exquisite testament to the bittersweet depths of love and loss." —-Patricia B. McConnell, author of For the Love of a Dog
Kirkus Reviews
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author's heartfelt memoir of her midlife friendship with a fellow writer. Caldwell, then book-review editor for the Boston Globe, and Caroline Knapp, a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, connected in 1996, when their love of their dogs, Clementine and Lucille, brought them together in a meadow near Boston. Besides writing and dogs, the two women had much in common, including athleticism, health problems, a history of alcoholism and belief in the value of psychodynamic therapy. Caldwell, some eight or nine years older than Knapp, devotes a sizable chunk of this volume to an account of her long struggle with alcoholism and her recovery from it. Knapp had previously published a memoir titled Drinking: A Love Story. These two brainy, independent women, both somewhat introverted loners, spent hours outdoors together, walking, talking, exercising their beloved dogs, rowing and swimming. Knapp, a devoted rower, trained Caldwell in that skill, and Caldwell taught Knapp to become a good swimmer. Each admired the prowess of the other and strove to achieve it. When time allowed, they vacationed together, sometimes with Knapp's boyfriend along, sometimes with just their loyal dogs. Caldwell writes with deep feeling, but without sentimentality, about the life-altering friendship they formed. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. In April 2002, Knapp was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, and less than two months later she died. The story of that final illness and of Caldwell's grief at losing her best friend is a poignant and powerful. Will resonate with women readers of all ages, who, if they are dog lovers, will be doubly moved. Agent: Lane Zachary/The Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400165605
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gail Caldwell

Gail Caldwell is the chief book critic for the Boston Globe, where she has been a staff writer and critic since 1985, and the author of A Strong West Wind.

Joyce Bean is an accomplished audiobook narrator and director. In addition to being an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, she has been nominated multiple times for a prestigious Audie Award, including for Good-bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I can still see her standing on the shore, a towel around her neck and a post-workout cigarette in her hand—half Gidget and half splendid splinter, her rower’s arms in defiant contrast to the awful pink bathing suit she’d found somewhere. It was the summer of 1997, and Caroline and I had decided to swap sports: I would give her swimming lessons and she would teach me how to row. This arrangement explained why I was crouched in my closest friend’s needle-thin racing shell, twelve inches across at its widest span, looking less like a rower than a drunken spider. We were on New Hampshire’s Chocorua Lake, a pristine mile-long body of water near the White Mountains, and the only other person there to watch my exploits was our friend Tom, who was with us on vacation.

“Excellent!” Caroline called out to me every time I made the slightest maneuver, however feeble; I was clinging to the oars with a white- knuckled grip. At thirty-seven, Caroline had been rowing for more than a decade; I was nearly nine years older, a lifelong swimmer, and figured I still had the physical wherewithal to grasp the basics of a scull upon the water. But as much as I longed to imitate Caroline, whose stroke had the precision of a metronome, I hadn’t realized that merely sitting in the boat would feel as unstable as balancing on a floating leaf. How had I let her talk me into this?

Novice scullers usually learn in a boat three times the width and weight of Caroline’s Van Dusen; later, she confessed that she couldn’t wait to see me flip. But poised there on water’s edge, hollering instructions, she was all good cheer and steely enthusiasm. And she might as well have been timing my success, fleeting as it was, with a stopwatch. The oars my only leverage, I started listing toward the water and then froze at a precarious sixty-degree angle, held there more by paralysis than by any sense of balance. Tom was belly-laughing from the dock; the farther I tipped, the harder he laughed.

“I’m going in!” I cried.

“No, you’re not,” said Caroline, her face as deadpan as a coach’s in a losing season. “No you’re not. Keep your hands together. Stay still— don’t look at the water, look at your hands. Now look at me.” The voice consoled and instructed long enough for me to straighten into position, and I managed five or six strokes across flat water before I went flying out of the boat and into the lake. By the time I came up, a few seconds later and ten yards out, Caroline was laughing, and I had been given a glimpse of the rapture.

The three of us had gone to Chocorua for the month of August after Tom had placed an ad for a summer rental: “Three writers with dogs seek house near water and hiking trails.” The result of his search was a ramshackle nineteenth-century farmhouse that we would return to for years. Surrounded by rolling meadows, the place had everything we could have wanted: cavernous rooms with old quilts and spinning wheels, a camp kitchen and massive stone fireplace, tall windows that looked out on the White Mountains. The lake was a few hundred yards away. Mornings and some evenings, Caroline and I would leave behind the dogs, watching from the front windows, and walk down to the water, where she rowed the length of the lake and I swam its perimeter. I was the otter and she was the dragonfly, and I’d stop every so often to watch her flight, back and forth for six certain miles. Sometimes she pulled over into the marshes so that she could scrutinize my flip turns in the water. We had been friends for a couple of years by then, and we had the competitive spirit that belongs to sisters, or adolescent girls—each of us wanted whatever prowess the other possessed.

The golden hues of the place and the easy days it offered—river walks and wildflowers and rhubarb pie—were far loftier than what Caroline had anticipated: She considered most vacations forced marches out of town. I was only slightly more adventurous, wishing I could parachute into summer trips without having to fret about the dog or shop for forty pounds of produce. Both writers who lived alone, Caroline and I shared a general intractability at disrupting our routines: the daily walks in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the exercise regimens we shared or compared, the meals and phone calls and hours of solitary work that we referred to as “our little lives.” “Paris is overrated,” Caroline liked to claim, partly to make me laugh; when she met a friend of mine one evening who was familiar with her books, he asked if she spent a lot of time in New York. “Are you kidding?” she said. “I hardly even get to Somerville.” Wedded to the sanctity of the familiar, we made ourselves leave town just to check the vacation off the list, then return to the joys and terrors of ordinary life.

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, by 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. Chocorua itself has taken on an idyllic glow: I remember the night Caroline nearly beat Tom at arm wrestling; the mouse that sent me onto the dining room table while she howled with laughter; the Best Camper awards we instituted (and that she always won). I have glossed over the mosquitoes, the day Caroline got angry when I left her in a slower-moving kayak and rowed off into the fog alone. Like most memories tinged with the final chapter, mine carry a physical weight of sadness. What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.

The two of us rowed, together and in tandem, for five years after that first summer. We both lived near the Charles River, a labyrinthine body of water that winds its way through Greater Boston for nine miles, from upper Newton through Cambridge and into Boston Harbor, with enough curves and consistently flat water to be a mecca for rowers. Because Caroline was small in stature and could body-press more than her own weight, I got to calling her Brutita, or “little brute.” The boathouses we rowed out of were a couple of miles apart, and I could recognize Caroline’s stroke from a hundred yards away—I’d be there waiting for her near the Eliot Bridge or the Weeks Footbridge by Harvard, ready to ply her with questions about form and speed and where to position one’s thumbs. When she went out hours ahead of me, she fired off unpunctuated e-mails as soon as she got home: “hurry up the water is flat.” We logged hundreds of miles, together and solo, from April to November; she endured my calls, in those first couple of summers, to discuss the mechanics of rowing: “I want to talk about thrust,” I would say, with insane intensity, or, “Did you know the human head weighs thirteen pounds?” “Ummmm-hmmmm?” she’d answer, and soon I would hear a soft click-click in the background—evidence that she had begun a game of computer solitaire, her equivalent of a telephonic yawn. At the end of the day, when we walked the dogs, we compared hand and finger calluses (the battle scars of good rowing) the way teenage girls used to compare tans or charm bracelets; because she was and always would be the better rower, I accepted her continual smugness and vowed to get even in the pool. One year for Christmas I gave her a photograph from the 1940s of two women rowers in a double at Oxford, England. She hung it on a wall near her bed, above a framed banner that read zeal is a useful fire.

Both pictures hang in my bedroom now, next to the photograph of the dogs. Caroline died in early June of 2002, when she was forty-two, seven weeks after she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. In the first few weeks in the hospital, when she was trying to write a will, she told me she wanted me to have her boat, the old Van Dusen in which I’d learned to row and that she had cared for over the years as though it were a beloved horse. I was sitting on her hospital bed when she said it, during one of those early death talks when you know what is coming and are trying to muscle your way through. So I told her I’d take the boat only if I could follow rowing tradition and have her name painted on the bow: It would be the Caroline Knapp. No way, she said, the same light in her eyes as the day she had taught me to row. You have to call it Brutita.

...

Before one enters this spectrum of sorrow, which changes even the color of trees, there is a blind and daringly wrong assumption that probably allows us to blunder through the days. There is a way one thinks that the show will never end—or that loss, when it comes, will be toward the end of the road, not in its middle. I was fifty-one when Caroline died, and by that point in life you should have gone to enough funerals to be able to quote the verses from Ecclesiastes by heart. But the day we found out that Caroline was ill—the day the doctors used those dreaded words “We can make her more comfortable”—I remember walking down the street, a bright April street glimmering with life, and saying aloud to myself, with a sort of shocked innocence, “You really thought you were going to get away with it, didn’t you?”

By which I meant that I might somehow sidestep the cruelty of an intolerable loss, one rendered without the willful or natural exit signs of drug overdose, suicide, or old age. These I had encountered, and there had been the common theme of tragic agency (if only he’d taken the lithium; if only he hadn’t tried to smuggle the cocaine) or rueful acceptance (she had a good long life). But no one I had loved— no one I counted among the necessary pillars of life—had died suddenly, too young, full of determination not to go. No one had gotten the bad lab report, lost the hair, been told to get her affairs in order. More important, not Caroline. Not the best friend, the kid sister, the one who had joked for years that she would bring me soup decades down the line, when I was too aged and frail to cook.

From the beginning there was something intangible and even spooky between us that could make strangers mistake us as sisters or lovers, and that sometimes had friends refer to us by each other’s name: A year after Caroline’s death, a mutual friend called out to me at Fresh Pond, the reservoir where we had walked, “Caroline!”, then burst into tears at her mistake. The friendship must have announced its depth by its obvious affection, but also by our similarities, muted or apparent. That our life stories had wound their way toward each other on corresponding paths was part of the early connection. 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. Apart, we had each been frightened drunks and aspiring writers and dog lovers; together, we became a small corporation.

We had a lot of dreams, some of them silly, all part of the private code shared by people who plan to be around for the luxuries of time. One was the tatting center we thought we’d open in western Massachusetts, populated by Border collies and corgis, because we’d be too old to have dogs that were big or unruly. The Border collies would train the corgis, we declared, and the corgis would be what we fondly called the purse dogs. The tatting notion came about during one of our endless conversations about whether we were living our lives correctly— an ongoing dialogue that ranged from the serious (writing, solitude, loneliness) to the mundane (wasted time, the idiocies of urban life, trash TV). “Oh, don’t worry,” I’d said to Caroline one day when she asked if I thought she spent too much time with Law and Order reruns. “Just think—if we were living two hundred years ago, we’d be playing whist, or tatting, instead of watching television, and we’d be worrying about that.” There was a long pause. “What is tatting?” she had asked shyly, as though the old lace-making craft were something of great importance, and so that too became part of the private lexicon —“tatting” was the code word for the time wasters we, and probably everyone else, engaged in.

These were the sort of rag-and-bone markers that came flying back to me, in a high wind of anguish, when she was dying: I remember trying to explain the tatting center to someone who knew us, then realizing how absurd it sounded, and breaking down. Of course no one would understand the tatting center; like most codes of intimacy, it resisted translation. Part of what made it funny was that it was ours alone.

One of the things we loved about rowing was its near mystical beauty— the strokes cresting across the water, the shimmering quiet of the row itself. Days after her death, I dreamed that the two of us were standing together in a dark boathouse, its only light source a line of incandescent blue sculls that hung above us like a wash of constellations. In the dream I knew she was dead, and I reached out for her and said, “But you’re coming back, right?” She smiled but shook her head; her face was a well of sadness.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1.

The book’s subtitle is “A Memoir of Friendship.” Why it is not simply “A Memoir,” and what does this say about the book as a whole? Whose story, at heart, would you say this is?

2.

Caldwell writes, “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.” She goes on to describe their “tatting center,” and the secret codes that tied their lives together. To what degree do you think the strength of a friendship depends on being able to disappear into an imaginary world together, to develop a secret code that only the friends understand? How do you see this playing out in Let’s Take the Long Way Home? What about in your own life?

3.

Gail and Caroline have a great deal in common, but they also have very different personalities. There is a darker edge to their friendship, too: Caldwell calls it a “swampland,” “the world of envy and rivalry and self-doubt,” the competitiveness between the two women in their writing, on the water, and in life. In what ways are they similar, and in what ways different? Do you think these elements strengthen or weaken their bond?

4.

Both Gail and Caroline have relationships with men, and yet the core of their friendship seems to contain a singular intimacy of the kind that exists between women.   Does that bond call to mind friendships or relationships in your own life?

5.

In a scene on the Harvard University sports fields, Caldwell says, “We used to laugh that people with common sense or without dogs were somewhere in a warm restaurant, or traveling, or otherwise living the sort of life that all of us think, from time to time, that we ought to be living or at least desiring.” One of the things Gail and Caroline discuss in the course of their friendship is whether they are “living their lives correctly”—whether they are taking full advantage of the time they have. Do you think there is a “correct” way to live, and if so, what do you think should dictate the priorities? Is it realistic to try to avoid wasting time, or is that necessary to “correct living”? Do you think Let’s Take the Long Way Home offers any kind of answer to this question?

6.

“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.” What do you think Caldwell means by this?

7.

In what ways does Clementine’s arrival change Gail’s life, on both a practical and an emotional level? She compares dog ownership to having children, but makes the point that “this mysterious, intelligent animal I had brought into my life seemed to me not a stand-in, but a blessing.”

8.

As the author is struggling to overcome her alcoholism, she has two conversations that help change the way she sees the world and her experiences. In one, a therapist tells her that “If…I could keep only one thing about you, it would be your too-muchness.”  Later, her alcoholism counselor, Rich, says, “Don’t you know? The flaw is the thing we love.”  Do you agree? Can you think of examples, in the book or in your own life, that prove or disprove these ideas?

9.

Let’s Take the Long Way Home doesn’t have a memoir’s traditional, chronological narrative structure. How do you think this contributes to the effect and emotional impact of the book overall? Does it reflect the nature of the friendship itself? Could Caldwell have told her story any other way?

10.

Do you see Gail, as a character, change in the course of the book—having discovered, and then lost, both Caroline and Clementine? What would you say she has gained?

11.

Caldwell tells a moving anecdote about using the “alpha roll” while she is training Clementine. It is a technique meant to establish the dog owner’s authority, but it doesn’t work at all on the mischievous puppy; as she continues to try and fail, Caldwell suddenly sees a parallel between her own childhood relationship with her father and senses that the whole approach is wrong. “From that moment on, everything changed between us. Wherever I danced, she followed.”  What lessons might we all learn from this story?

12.

Loss is at the center of the book —we know from the first several pages that Caroline will die —and Caldwell writes about the new world without Caroline in it, where she experienced rage and despair and “the violence of time itself.”   Does her description of grief mirror any of your own experiences?

13.

Caroline and Gail have a private game in which they assign a dog breed to each person they know. For fun, what kind of dog would you be? What about your best friend? Your worst enemy?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 104 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(33)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 104 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 13, 2010

    Finally...

    ...a memoir that encompasses the intimate journey of true friendship. There is good balance here, a vivid picture of how Gail and Caroline found their rhythm. I lived in Boston for many years and was an avid fan of Caroline's column. I was saddened by the loss to the community when she died. Now, so many years later, I applaud the courage it must have taken for Gail to write this beautiful account. It has brought Caroline back to those of us who knew and read her and those who didn't. Her love, kindness, and respect for animals is far-reaching--something more people should embrace. As always, the animals lead the way. I hope to see more of Gails' writing in the future, she is one darned good wordsmith.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Gail's account of her years as a functional alcoholic are stark

    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. 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. Highly recommended, esp. after reading Knapp's memoir.    

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    Stupendous

    This is a story about the life and death of Caroline Knapp, Gail Caldwell's best friend, and it's so lovingly done and uplifting that I didn't cry at all. The pair bond over training their dogs and share with each other their love of swimming and rowing. They had several mutual friends as well and lived rich, full lives.

    After the death, an event occurs that left me shaken and horrified and makes me tear up even days later.

    This book is for everyone, especially those who love dogs, who have experienced the loss of a loved one, have had a close friendship or loves stories with depth.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    BEAUTIFUL!

    Obviously written from the heart, Gail Caldwell begins her story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp. These two writers who for most of their lives were introverted, and content to be so, shared their passions, especially those of writing and of their dogs. Both came from challenging but not abusive families. It's a celebration of friendship, of support and being supported, of the animal bond, of sharing creativity and of sharing illness and death. This is an intensely moving memoir that is sure to bring the reader to tears!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I cried

    I rarely cry because of what I read in a book but this book was so beautifully written and it dealt with real emotions when someone you love is dying or has died. This book truly moved me. Of course, I've read books by Caroline Knapp and was devastated when she died and I wouldn't be able to read anymore of her books. But, I can't imagine being in the shoes of Gail Caldwell, her closest friend. This is an amazing book I highly recommend it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2010

    As sad as this book is, Gail's writing is so beautiful and her desription of her emotions so true, it was well worth the read. In fact, I will read it again!

    I loved this book. I had read Caroline's book, "Drinking , A Love Story" so was familiar with her but not with Gail.
    Their relationship was the kind of friendship many women dream of. I related as I am a similar age, a recovering alcoholic and love dogs. I also have someone I love dying for terminal cancer.

    Gail's writing is so wonderful, I feel inadequate to even describe it. Well worth the sadness and tears.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Beautifully written memoir about life, pets, and friendship

    The author does a wonderful job of illustrating the true essence of life -- giving of yourself to care for those you love, human and animal, and appreciate their love in return.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    It was ok

    The book was just ok to me. I did enjoy it however. Definitely took from it some things I can apply to myself.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, by Gail Caldwell,

    This is such a beautiful memoir about Caroline Knapp. Knapp and Caldwell are two independent women writers who love their dogs and their privacy. Caldwell tells stories about her friend, sharing her humor and her love and her strength. It's about the closeness of friends, death, loss, wisdom and sharing it all, life-changing emotional connection. A memorable read! Other good ones: FOR ONE MORE DAY, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, THE BOY WHO CAME BACK FROM HEAVEN, THE FIVE PEOPLE WE MEET IN HEAVEN, I WILL WAIT FOR YOU; ETERNAL BLISS

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Let's Take the Long Way Home

    This was a wonderful book. It was a tender story about two career girls who became good friends. Their lives were intertwined & their love for their dogs were so great. It ended on a sad note as one of them died.She had cancer, but the author wrote the book in such a way that the reader knew she was going to live through her grief. I am not too good on writing reviews, but but believe me you will love this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Recommended

    I was surprised how much this book hit close to home for me. It is beautifully written, and completely bittersweet. Definitely a tearjerker! I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it.

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  • Posted November 10, 2012

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings An honest look

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    An honest look at friendships between women - a relationship that should hold just as much value as the one between spouses. My mom always told me that your significant other can not be your only relationship, they can't be everything for you. This book drove that lesson home page after page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    This was a really moving book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    An amazing story

    this was such a moving and amazing story of friendship I cannot say enough how wonderful this story was!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Best book ever

    I read this when I was grieving the death from cancer of my golden retriever Selka. I so related to Gail, Caroline and their dogs. Everything they went through I had experienced. Alcoholism, staying sober, loving and losing, dealing with relationships and dealing with cancer and loss. This book is so true , rich and full of love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    Loved it (and I'm not one for tear-jerkers)!

    I'm not sure what I liked best in this memoir: the poignant storytelling, the intimate friendship of these "merry recluses", the heartbreak of their past struggles with alcoholism, the narrator's grief or Gail and Caroline's love for their canine companions. It's all here and richly told.

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  • Posted January 20, 2012

    Wrenching

    I do read a lot. So when I picked this up I expected a story of friendship. Two friends, their dogs..etc. Early into the book you realize one of them will die, it is a part of life, so I kept reading. While well written it was the most heart wrenching book I have ever read. I would not recommend it to anyone. I can not even pass it on to friends. While Ms. Caldwell may be a wonderful writer, this story was not enjoyable at all. At first I thought it might be a great book to recommend to my female smoking patients, that is not even possible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    story of friendship

    This is a great story of the strength of friendships and the complex connections in people's lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    Dog Lovers and Friendship

    This was a great book. If you have lost a good friend, this will take you back, exposing those feelings. If you are a dog lover you can relate too. This book gripped me from beginning to end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Quick read

    You have to love a womens prospect of survival of sorts. Be prepared to face life and death and the human response with the love of dogs in the mix.

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