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Let's Take the Long Way Home

A Memoir of Friendship

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They met over their dogs. Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp (author of Drinking: A Love Story) became best friends, talking about everything from their love of books and their shared history of a struggle with alcohol to their relationships with men. Walking the woods of New England and rowing on the Charles River, these two private, self-reliant women created an attachment more profound than either of them could ever have foreseen. Then, several years into this remarkable connection, Knapp was diagnosed with cancer. With her signature exquisite prose, Caldwell mines the deepest levels of devotion, and courage in this gorgeous memoir about treasuring a best friend, and coming of age in midlife. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is a celebration of the profound 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.

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BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Gail Caldwell's New Life, No Instructions.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 24, 2010 – 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.

Customer Reviews

Let's Take the Long Way Home

Having just lost my best friend to cancer, I found this book to mirror many of my own feelings and experiences. Reading this book validated what I was going through and brought me a sense of comfort.


Reading this book was really like reading about me. Her words about the grief of love in someone who has died, about the connection to our furry mates of dogs, was just like me. I could pick up a cup do tea, cuddle with the dogs, and cry together over the depth of love that endures through death. I realize that her book was healing to write...but guess what? It's healing to read. There is nothing deeper than death, and life, and Gail takes you straight to the heart of it all in a personal way that wanders right into your heart. Thank you for writing this book.

Let's Take the Long Way Home

Well written! Caldwell's style is clear, very descriptive with provocative observations. While reading it I felt like I wanted to be among their friends, able to speak with Gail and Caroline. I wanted to sit on the floor and hug their dogs. I laughed with them then cried - sobbing - felt real pain. It was a peaceful ending - a hope for the future. Now I plan to read every one of their books. I highly recommend this book!

Let's Take the Long Way Home
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Aug 10, 2010
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings