Title: Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
Author: Gail Caldwell
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4 out of 5
Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp were the closest of friends. At age 42, Caroline died of an aggressive, untreatable lung cancer. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is Caldwell’s tribute to her, a memoir of love and loss and those deep connections that make life worth living.
From the first page of Let’s Take the Long Way Home, the reader knows that Gail and Caroline were best friends, and that Caroline is now dead. It casts a shadow over the book. The reader knows, when Gail is talking about their happiest times, that she will lose Caroline. As a result, this is just as much a memoir of loss as it is one of the best of friendships.
It’s easy to understand why Gail and Caroline connected so quickly – both unmarried, both writers, both alcoholics, both in committed relationships with their dogs – they have a lot in common. It’s wonderful to see them teach each other, learn from each other, and come to depend on one another more and more as the book progresses. On every page, you can feel the love that Gail felt for Caroline, and how much she is mourning her loss.
Let’s Take the Long Way Home is also very beautifully written. Caldwell is a talented writer, and it’s clear that she poured her heart out into this book. In a lot of ways, it’s not just a story of a friendship, but a love story about two kindred spirits that were lucky enough to find one another. Caldwell feels Caroline’s death as much as she’d feel the death of a spouse. It’s really heartbreaking, and yet Caldwell’s writing is so gorgeous that it somehow helps. It makes it easier to bear.
This is a slip of a book, and a very quiet one at that. It’s not a memoir of shocking revelations or adventure. It’s just a small story about two people who were best friends until one of them died. Caroline couldn’t have asked for a better tribute, or a better friend to accompany her to the end of her life.