Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review: Lets Take the Long Way Home

From the book jacket:   "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.

This book is so beautifully written it makes my soul ache. Caldwell weaves together a tale of friendship and the deep bonds that come with such a relationship in life and how they are sustained in death. The author's connection to fellow author Caroline Knapp, the two bonded over writing, their past physical and emotional struggles, their love of dogs, and their competitive spirit. The two became lifelong friends, who were as close as sisters, each playing an incredibly vital role in the other's life. They shared life's joys and sorrows together, until Knapp's grim terminal cancer diagnosis.

After Knapp's passing, Caldwell struggles with grief and how to continue living while missing one of the most important people in her life.

This book is an elegantly written memoir that reminds those who read the novel of the friendships that make our lives beautiful and the gift those friends bring to our life's journey. Upon completion of Let's Take the Long Way Home, I was immediately inspired to reach out to my friends and tell them how much I appreciate them. I absolutely loved this book. If you've ever experienced the incredibly close bond of friendship, I think you would really enjoy reading it as well.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review by the author and TLC Tours. The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.