3 reviews

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

Published: 2010-08-10
Hardcover : 208 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members
?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 ...
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(?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.

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: "The flaw is the thing we love." Of all the passages worthy of dog-earing (or highlighting) in Let's Take the Long Way Home (and there are many), this one is the most powerful wellspring. It captures the very thing we hope to find in friendship: a person who admires and cares for us not in spite of our flaws, but in acceptance of them, as part and parcel of who we are. For Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp--two intensely driven, talented writers who found in each other an uncannily similar share of life experiences and ambitions--loving the flaws became a cornerstone of their friendship. This is a beautiful story of the best things about best friends: shared rituals and private jokes, long walks (in this case, with their dearly loved dogs) and longer talks, confessions and discoveries. It would be wrong to say that their friendship ended with Caroline's unexpected death, because it so obviously lives and breathes in the rich and wonderful tapestry of stories told here. --Anne Bartholomew

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

I used book discussion questions from Lit Lovers for the book.
I added a couple of other questions: What are the strengths that you got from your parents? In the book the author said she got independence from her mother and tough minded resolve from her father.
In the book as Gail was cleaning out some things of Caroline's she found a C.D of music for a friend. What songs would you put on a C.D. for your friend?
by book1lady (see profile) 03/08/12

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Member Reviews

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by Cathy B. (see profile) 04/08/15

  "Let's Take the Long Way Home"by Sandy D. (see profile) 03/26/15

All friendships have a different flavor and depth. This story had a new, yet interesting and loving tale.

  "beautiful!"by Brenda B. (see profile) 12/10/12

What a beautiful book on female relationships and the sadness of losing a close friend.

  "Let's Take the Long Way Home"by Laura M. (see profile) 11/07/12

While this is ultimately a very sad story, it is beautifully written and a scenario that every human being must, at some point, face. Several of our members found the book to be positive in this outcome,... (read more)

  "Let's Take the Long Way Home"by Linda C. (see profile) 03/08/12

The bookclub loved this book. The way the author put her words together was just beautiful. The discussion it evoked was interesting, and every one could relate in at least one way to the ma... (read more)

  "Read it because it's THAT good"by Bonnie W. (see profile) 04/16/11

I lost my mom recently to lung cancer and wasn't sure if I was up for this book. My sister picked it for our book club. I am glad she did. I love the way Ms. Caldwell writes. I love my dog and have friends... (read more)

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