Saturday, September 25, 2010

LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME: REVIEW AND BONUS ENTRIES


GIVEAWAY ENDED
LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
A Memoir of Friendship
BY GAIL CALDWELL

PRAISE FOR THE BOOK: 
If you have forgotten about LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME, go HERE to my earlier post read more about it and also enter some more ways.


“Stunning…gorgeous....intense and moving….A book of such crystalline truth that it makes the heart ache.”
--The Boston Globe
 
“[Let’s Take the Long Way Home] left me intensely moved….Caldwell’s greatest achievement is to rise above [death and loss] 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.”
--Julie Myerson, The New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice
 
“[A] beautiful book….The losing isn’t the exceptional part of this story; everyone loses something, sooner or later.  The wonder lies in finding it in the first place.”
--Salon
 
“A tribute to the enduring power of friendship….You can shelve Let’s Take the Long Way Home…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….A lovely gift to readers.”
--Washington Post
 
“High-spirited and heartrending.”
--People
 
“[Their] relationship nurtured and inspired Caldwell and Knapp, and in reading about it, we feel enriched as well.”
--Chicago Tribune, Editor’s Choice









MY REVIEW:
I so very much enjoyed LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME by Gail Caldwell. This memoir honors Caroline Knapp, Caldwell's best friend, and is so beautifully written that I would read sentences over just to hear the lyrical sound of the words in my head. Both Gail and Caroline were writers who shared the love of their dogs as well as swimming and rowing, and of course, each other. They just were true soul mates and they completed each other. It was late in Carolyn’s life that she married but for the most of the book, they had each other so their lives revolved around their schedules and idiosyncrasies.

Theirs was a friendship in which they shared the good and the bad and that included addiction. They both enjoyed drinking and Gail talks about her alcohol addiction and how she recovered prior to becoming friends with Caroline. Caroline had written about her battle with alcohol in DRINKING: A LOVE STORY. Caroline’s other addiction was to cigarette smoking. She loved to smoke even though Gail was always after her to quit. They also both came from rather challenging families and so they shared that as well.

The walks with their dogs is where their friendship began and where it blossomed. These walks grew longer as they wanted to spend more time together and thus got to know each other better. They would enjoy walking and playing with their dogs and after they had each gone home, talk on the phone so that although they weren’t totally dependent on each other, they were certainly lost when one of them wasn’t available. Set primarily in Cambridge, Caldwell’s skill at making the setting a part of their lives and major part of the book is so very well done. She describes the places they spent time in with such grace and eloquence that you can picture every place they were.

Their friendship is sadly put to the ultimate test when Caroline is diagnosed with lung cancer and not given much, if any, hope. Caroline’s death is devastating to Gail, as one would obviously suspect. However, the way she wrote about it was poignant, and her presentation isn’t morbid but rather moving as it gets to the heart of the matter…as it will also get to your heart. Following Caroline’s death, Gail must learn to adjust to life with a vital part missing. That empty space was palpable and spending time with her dog was the closest she would come to feeling at peace as she remembered the times they had all shared together. When Gail later has to deal with her beloved dog aging and showing signs of mortality, I thought how very sad and difficult it must have been to experience that loss without her dear friend there to support her.

I don’t think I cried as much reading a book like I did with this one in a long time. Yet, it didn’t leave me sad as much as it was uplifting because of Caldwell’s beautiful writing. It was a tribute to her friend and to their love of their animals.  I came away from LET’S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME realizing how right Gail was as she comes across with how it is not a bad thing to feel and love deeply. Our inner strength will be tested but it is one of the best things that can happen as we know we are really alive and that we were blessed to have had someone so special in our lives.



GIVEAWAY


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AT RANDOM HOUSE PUBLISHING, I HAVE
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16 comments:

Bev said...

The Long Way Home would make a wonderful book club book. #8 in the Readers Guide about 'loving our flaws' would make for an interesting disscussion - maybe that's why it's so hard to break habits because it really is something that we like to do - good or bad. I liked what both More Magazine and Salon had to say about the book - that's its a wonder we find friendship in the first place. Great book - I'd love to read this one: D

BevE
slawoszewski (at) yahoo (dot) com

traveler said...

Your review was beautiful due to the emotions that you felt and the impressive friendship. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Praise from Richard Ford was lovely. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

The readers guide in regards to the friendship and what they had in common even though they had different personalities is interesting. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Stories like this which are real life and meaningful are my favorite. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

Bookpage's praise was wonderful. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

This book lends itself to great talks since it explores the strength of friendship. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

sharon54220 said...

How our inner strength is tested.
I definitely would love to win & read this book.

Thanks Karen

sharon54220@gmail.com

sharon54220 said...

I liked Washington Post's praise.

sharon54220@gmail.com

sharon54220 said...

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.”

sharon54220@gmail.com

Teresa said...

this one looks pretty good!

teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

The story of friendship and loss and the loss of her dog. It all sounds kinda tragic and touching at the same time.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

They all are great but I liked Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place best

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

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?

This could be interesting.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

StephTheBookworm said...

I have been wanting to read this since I first heard of it. I love memoirs, especially ones about friendship.

stephaniet117 at yahoo dot com

StephTheBookworm said...

I think book clubs could talk about the addiction.

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