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

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  8,980 Ratings  ·  1,396 Reviews
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 d
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Published August 10th 2010 by Tantor Media (first published 2010)
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Perhaps my new favorite first line of all time: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."

This quote introduces Gail Caldwell's lyrical, wise, and compassionate tribute to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, who died at 42 due to lung cancer. The two shared many things: the craft of writing, a love for dogs, and a history with alcoholism. Upon meeting they forged an intense emotional bond after just a few conversations. Caldwell
Sep 29, 2010 Roxann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this an additional fractional star I would. Maybe 3.5 or 3.75. It has one of the best first lines I've ever read: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too." I was hooked, and that's what I wanted to read about: the memoir of friendship, and unbearable loss. That's all in there and is so good. But I was distracted by the long, long story of the author's struggle with, and recovery from alcoholism which had happe ...more
Feb 13, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp a few months ago.
I remember just inhaling it. Her writing was incredible. Smart, funny, real. When I
finished it, I put the book down and went immediately to Amazon to read more of
her stuff. Which is when I discovered she had died of lung cancer in her early
40s in 2002. The voice of her memoir was so clear, and her personality shone
through and I felt sad to have lost such a voice.

Christmas time I learned that Gail Caldwell (her very best friend) ha
Moira Russell
The subtitle is misleading: this isn't so much a memoir of friendship as of the loss of that friendship. It's specifically about grief: that weird absence of the person you loved which is almost like a presence itself, a negative exposure: not their eyes, not their hair, not their voice.... When the book focuses on bereavement it's stunning. The friendship itself is not that well-portrayed, compared to, say, another writer's-memoir-of-a-dead-woman-writer-friend, Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, gosh, this was kind of disappointing, and I'm not sure why. Gail Caldwell's memoir of her long, tender friendship with Carolyn seems to have all the right ingredients - the friendship is warm, mature, and kind, their shared time is often poignant, it has a very sad, too-soon ending. I'm really struggling to figure out what I didn't like about it, except that it just seemed sort of boring.

Perhaps it is the very maturity of the relationship, and the fact that Caldwell is clearly determined
David Quinn
Having run across the dust cover description a few months ago I was looking forward to reading this book. Just the title implied a warm and deep sense of friendship. Unfortunately for me I felt the author was trying too hard to impress the reader with her intellect rather than just allow simple emotions and straightforward language convey the connection between these friends.

There's a brief introduction about how they became acquainted and almost suddenly they're soul mates. Six years after form
Jan 19, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, romance
Em jeito de um pequeno diário onde conta a sua história e, sobretudo, a intensa amizade com Caroline e culminaria com a morte desta com um cancro do pulmão, Gail Caldwell transporta-nos para o seu mundo tão imperfeito como o de qualquer um de nós.
Partindo sempre desta grande amizade, depressa nos apercebemos das fraquezas da autora, alcoólica recuperada, mas também das enormes semelhanças com a sua melhor amiga. Por serem tão parecidas Gail e Caroline eram como uma espécie de almas gémeas, uma a
Nancy Kennedy
Feb 03, 2012 Nancy Kennedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."

With this lyrical sentence, Gail Caldwell opens her story of her friendship with the writer Caroline Knapp. Both its gentleness and its foreboding draw the reader in to this finely told tale of love and grief.

Not many people treasure a friendship as deeply as did these two writers who for most of their lives were introverted, and content to be so. "As much as I complained about my soli
Jun 03, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bridget, those who enjoy reading memoirs
In this "memoir of friendship", Gail Caldwell gives us a loving view into her life with her dog Clementine which provided her entree into a life-changing friendship with Caroline Knapp, a fellow author and dog-lover.

Through a mutual acquaintance, she was introduced to this woman who would become a soulmate. They challenge each other in multiple ways to become their personal best. Their friendship developed over years until Caroline's diagnosis with terminal lung cancer .

It's difficult to adequa
Jan 26, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir about friendship, the death of a friend, dogs, tough life moments, alcoholism, living.
Some of my favorite quotes:
It's taken years for me to understand that dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it. Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one another's lives until not death, but distance, does us part-time and space and the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.

The only education in grief that any of us
Ainda mais que o amor, a amizade é uma partilha de sentimentos sem a qual não se consegue viver. É a segurança de se ter alguém em quem confiar, o conforto de sermos ouvidos durante horas e a alegria de se sentir que existe uma pessoa no mundo que verdadeiramente gosta de nós pelo que somos e pelo que acreditamos. Quando essa amizade é perdida, forma-se um vazio tal no nosso peito que nada o conseguirá voltar a encher... mas quando essa amizade morre, como seremos capazes de continuar sem ela? C ...more
Nov 29, 2010 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: Amazon Best Books of 2010 list
Using my new Nook is so much fun, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to carry me through this book. I barely made it through 50 pages.

The writing showed a lot of promise, and I was hoping that this memoir of a friendship would have the poignancy and insight of Truth & Beauty: A Friendship. It started off good, as Caldwell wrote about the loss of her friend. The book quickly became boring, though, as it evolved into a lengthy and detailed discussion of dog-raising (not a topic that grabs me)
Susan Ideus
Sep 15, 2010 Susan Ideus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gail Caldwell celebrates her extraordinary friendship with
fellow writer Caroline Knapp in LET"S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME. It is a
touching, honest, and often humorous look at their relationship–how
they met, why they bonded, and what kept them together. Her memories
are clear and deep, and she shares them all, not shying away from the
unpleasant nor overwhelming with the too saccharine.

Both women were recovering alcoholics; both were writers; both loved
their dogs beyond normal reason. It was this latt
Desiree Koh
Gail Caldwell wrote “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” to remember her friend Caroline Knapp, who died way too soon. It’s a memoir of their friendship – how they met, why their friendship was so profound, the devastation of being forcibly separated and without warning. Caldwell is a notable, skilful writer and I was excited to read her interpretation of something that is so close and near to my heart – friendship.

Her prose is beautiful, and what takes it from poetry on a page to something integrally
Feb 10, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Não foi fácil para mim ler este livro. De facto li-o rapidamente pois queria acaba-lo e não voltar a pensar nele. Porque a história que nele é retratada é dolorosamente familiar para mim. Narra-nos a amizade entre duas mulheres, que em comum tem o amor pelos cães e problemas de alcoolismo. Uma dela morre de cancro e a outra conta o que as uniu, a sua doença inesperada, a falta que a amiga lhe faz... Porque me é dolorosamente familiar? O meu pai teve um AVC aos 43 anos e tendo ficado paralisado d ...more
Feb 12, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, 2014-reads
A tender and heart-wrenching memoir about female friendship, dogs, love, loss, and truth. We should all be so lucky to find a friendship like Gail and Caroline shared in our own lives.
Aug 31, 2015 Antonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, moving memoir of a precious friendship. I loved everything about it. And I cried.
Gail Caldwell has written a stunningly beautiful tribute to her friendship with Carolyn Knapp, author of Drinking: A Love Story. She recounts their time together, their shared love of dogs, the water, writing, and struggles with alcoholism. She illuminates the secret language of friends. So many times during the book, Caldwell caused me to pause over her simple, yet profound thoughts on grieving, friendship, and living:

"It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then sh
Although I was not taken with this book, I completely understand how someone might be. I didn't seem to connect with the story in the way that it appears others have. I would even go so far as to say that I had to push my way through the book. I didn't feel myself connecting with the material so I was having to force myself through it at times.

Ultimately, this memoir was just ok for me. I can't even say that it was good. Yet, it doesn't feel bad, per se. Just nothing special. Nothing that reall
Jul 23, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How does one write a review of a book about loss and grief when one is stricken by loss in grief in the midst of reading said book? This is precisely what happened to me when my Westie, McDougal, had to be put to sleep — quite suddenly and quite unexpectedly at the age of 14 — just as I was arriving at the point in Gail Caldwell's memoir where she loses her best friend to cancer. Was it coincidence? A cruel cosmic joke? Something more? I don't have the answer (or can't admit to it), but that I w ...more
Bill Breedlove
Oct 11, 2010 Bill Breedlove rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of the author's friendship with another author, Caroline Knapp. Caroline Knapp wrote some of my favorite books, including PACK OF TWO (a bit about the human-canine bond but mostly about her bond with her dog Lucille) and THE MERRY RECLUSE which is a collection of her columns. Sadly, Knapp was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and seven weeks later passed away. This book chronicles Caldwell's friendship with Knapp, which was set in motion by both of them being single women who c ...more
May 13, 2012 Joana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sendo uma obra autobiográfica que visa a relação da autora Gail Caldwell com a sua falecida amiga Caroline, "Um Longo Regresso a Casa" não é uma estória com um final feliz, mas não menos especial e comovente.
Através desta obra, Gail imortaliza a sua amizade profunda pela sua querida amiga, descrevendo-nos pormenorizadamente essa ligação tão intensa a que apenas alguns seres humanos têm acesso.
Embora um livro pequeno e com letras de tamanho garrafal, não é, de todo, uma leitura fácil ou rápida, d
Feb 09, 2012 Francesca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to comment on a book written about someone who was once a close friend. Memoirs, especially the chick- lit kind, seem to be a genre in itself; I can't help wondering whether the subject matter, if reinvented and re-imagined,might make a better novel than what's currently on the page. There seems to be a hunger for books about the intricacies of interpersonal relationships told from a middle-aged female point of view, but I find they go right through me, like an article in a woman's mag ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to read this book as soon as I found out that it was about the author's friendship with Caroline Knapp, who had written with brutal, eloquent honesty about her struggle with alcohol in Drinking: A Love Story. When I learned that Caroline had actually died from cancer 8 years after she stopped drinking, reading this book became an obsession. It felt almost like a betrayal, that she died after she had ended her memoir on such a positive, strong note. I had to read about the end of her lif ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Pixelina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, z2013-read
Another memoir of grief, this time the sorrow of losing a best friend, but also about the great joy in finding her in the first place. Gail meets Caroline, 8 years younger then her, but also a writer and also a recovering addict and just as crazy as she is about dogs. They almost grow into one, they each get involved with every aspect of each others lives and share swimming, rowing, walking and training dogs.
I've read a lot of books on grief lately, perhaps because my parents are getting up ther
Elphaba J
Quando acontece, a morte de alguém que nos é intimamente querido, existe uma parte de nós que se fragmenta, que congela no espaço e se separa da nossa alma. É nesse momento, em que ficamos suspensos no tempo, que o nosso inconsciente dá início a uma batalha olímpica com muitas fases e diversos tipos de sofrimento, uma batalha aparentemente infinita até ao instante em que o nosso espirito, entorpecido, ressuscita para aquilo que se designa de prosseguir com a vida.

Um Longo Regresso a Casa retract
Mar 29, 2012 Filipa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um livro maravilhoso sobre a amizade e tudo o que se pode encontrar nela, desde os acontecimentos bons até aos maus e até mesmo à sua perda.....
Um livro que para além da amizade como pano de fundo, fala ao longo de todo o livro do profundo amor pelos cães, um amor que é partilhado por mim e que entendo perfeitamente....
Um livro que demonstra como se pode dar a volta por cima estando envolta no desgosto, sentindo angústia e ansiedade em todo o percurso e também como podemos contar com pessoas qu
Neide Parafitas
Confesso que grande parte deste livro foi lida com um sentimento de grande desilusão! Não me sentia próxima das pessoas que integram a história deste livro (incluindo a autora)e para ser franca, o livro revelou-se aquém das minhas expectativas!!

Contudo, mais para o final do livro descobri um sentimento totalmente diferente relativamente ao mesmo! A autora conseguiu captar a minha atenção com a forma como descreveu os seus sentimentos perante o acontecimento que marca a necessidade de escrever es
Jan 12, 2012 Mafi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, pt, blogring
Lê-se bem num par de horas.

Neste livro de memórias conhecemos a história de Gail e Caroline, duas amigas que eram inseparáveis mas toda a amizade foi quebrada com a morte de uma delas. Com muitas semelhanças, as protagonistas tinham o mesmo dom da escrita e um grande amor por cães. Depois da morte de Caroline, Gail concluí que é impossível substituir a sua amiga tão querida.

É um livro de memórias que sentimos a união das duas mulheres e faz-nos perceber que os amigos são um dos pilares essencia
Dec 27, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Quiet, moving memoir chronicling a friendship between two women, both writers who shared a history of alcoholism and a passion for dogs. Their relationship feels mature and blessedly devoid of drama. There's this idea that the magnitude of crisis and conflict in a relationship is a direct reflection of the importance of the relationship. In my own life, however, I've found that my richest and deepest relationships, while not necessarily without issue, have had the familiar feeling of two people ...more
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Gail Caldwell is the former chief book critic for The Boston Globe, where she was a staff writer and critic for more than twenty years. In 2001, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She is also the author of A Strong West Wind, a memoir of her native Texas. Caldwell lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
More about Gail Caldwell...

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“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.” 252 likes
“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.” 83 likes
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