Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Let's Take the Long Way Home

'Let's Take the Long Way Home'
Author: Gail Caldwell


Format: Hardback
Published: Random House; Aug. 2010
Pages: 208
Genre: Memoir
Grade: B
Source: TLC Book Tours


Synopsis: Caldwell (A Strong West Wind) has managed to do the inexpressible in this quiet, fierce work: create a memorable offering of love to her best friend, Caroline Knapp, the writer (Drinking: A Love Story) who died of lung cancer at age 42 in 2002. The two met in the mid-1990s: "Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived." Both single, writers (Caldwell was then book critic for the Boston Globe), and living alone in the Cambridge area, the two women bonded over their dog runs in Fresh Pond Reservoir, traded lessons in rowing (Knapp's sport) and swimming (Caldwell's), and shared stories, clothes, and general life support as best friends. Moreover, both had stopped drinking at age 33 (Caldwell was eight years older than her friend); both had survived early traumas (Caldwell had had polio as a child; Knapp had suffered anorexia). Their attachment to each other was deeply, mutually satisfying, as Caldwell describes: "Caroline and I coaxed each other into the light." Yet Knapp's health began to falter in March 2002, with stagefour lung cancer diagnosed; by June she had died. Caldwell is unflinching in depicting her friend's last days, although her own grief nearly undid her; she writes of this desolating time with tremendously moving grace. 


My Take: Struggling with loss is never easy. It's different for everyone and no matter what, from my experience, you usually feel alone. After you've reached a certain age you will inevitably have lost a grandparent, parent, or friend to something. Caldwell lost her best friend, Caroline, to lung cancer and this book is her tribute to her friend. If you've lost someone close to you and had to deal with the life that comes afterwards then you will find plenty of comfort and head-nodding in agreement within this sparsely paged memoir.


The book begins with Caldwell standing by the lake in which she and her dear friend use to always take their dogs on walks together. Only her friend isn't there beside her anymore because she has passed on. At first, we don't know what happened, but slowly through stories, memories, glimpses through past lives we become intimate with the friendship that these two shared. Having met later in life, these two found a sisterly love that they hadn't found in anyone else. It was sweet to read about. I liked knowing that you could build a deep bond with someone other than those you've known since childhood. They did everything together.


Caldwell and Caroline initially bonded over their new dogs. If you are a dog lover than you would have wanted to be friends with these two women. Their passion for their dogs is insurmountable. The walks they took every day with their dogs is how they would talk out their feelings. Then they began to row and swim together, which led to vacations and a years-long friendship. Until, sadly, Caroline became sick.

I don't cry a lot in books, but the passages in which Caldwell was saying goodbye to her dear friend were heart-wrenching. This isn't a book for the faint of heart. Don't get me wrong, it's not gruesome or anything. It's just real life. And sometimes, real life is utterly sad.

While this memoir was incredibly moving there were times when the storyline was paced a little wrong for me. The timeline wasn't linear and I was confused as to why certain stories were being told at certain times. However, I would still wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has lost someone dear in their lives.

This book is out now in paperback, so be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Cover Lust: While simple, this cover is a little lackluster to me. I think that the cover on the paperback version tells a story closer to what is inside.


Giveaway Details!
The publisher has kindly offered up one new paperback copy to a lucky winner! The deadline for this giveaway is Sep. 6th; entries open to those in the US and Canada.

To Enter (Mandatory)!
Comment below with a way for me to contact you.

For Extra entries (Optional), indicate that you are:
+1 Follow this blog on Google Connect (see right sidebar)
+1 Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway (include @amusedbybooks in your tweet)
+1 Blog/Post about this giveaway on your sidebar

3 extra entries available. Giveaway open until 11:59pm PST Sep. 6. I will draw the winners using random.org and announce them here on my blog. Good luck!



For other opinions about this book, here's the full TLC Tour Schedule.

25 comments:

  1. This book sounds like a wonderful read and I would like to read it.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. I follow by google reader as cenya2.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

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  3. I have wanted to read this book for a while now, but don't have a copy of it. It sounds great.

    jamieleighmason@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have seen a few reviews of this book and cannot wait to read it! I'm a follower with Google Reader.

    kristen dot novak09 at gmail dot com

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  5. This looks like a great book! Count me in for the giveaway! I'm a GFC follower.

    Margaret
    singitm@hotmail.com

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  6. I just read Jaycee Dugard's memoir "A Stolen Life" and don't think I could deal with another sad book right at the moment.
    That was a nice review of the book.

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  7. I heard this author on Bookworm and knew after listening to her that I'd read her book at some pount.

    bookishchatter AT gmail DOT com

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  8. I am not really a memoir kind of reader, but I am happy to see that you enjoyed this book

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  9. This book sounds captivating and poignant. I lnow Gail and Caroline shared the kind of close friendship many people go their entire lives without. I want to read about their friendship and about how Gail coped with the loss of her dear friend. I think Gail is a wonderful writer and I am looking forward to experience her writing style and words.

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway.
    Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  10. I follow you on GFC

    Aimala127(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm not in US/Canada, but I wanted to say that this sounds a lot like THE LOVE VERB by Jane Green?

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  12. Hi Yvann - it does sound similar although I would say that this is a memoir where that is fiction. Regardless the Jane Green novel sounds equally moving!

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  13. This sounds like a beautiful tribute to a wonderful friendship. I'd love to be entered. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

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  14. It sounds like a dream friendship.

    akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I follow via gfc.

    akreese at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I really enjoyed Caroline Knapp's writing. She had a difficult time of things, but when I first encountered her columns in THE BOSTON PHOENIX, you would have had no idea of the depth of her personal struggles. She could be very funny. I would love to read her best friend's memoir of Ms. Knapp's passing. Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this book.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  17. +1 I follow with GFC.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  18. +1 Here's my Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/ASeaOfBooks/status/106723263299858432

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  19. +1 Posted on my sidebar at http://aseaofbooks.blogspot.com/

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

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  20. "And sometimes, real life is utterly sad." Yes, it certainly is, and it is amazing when an author can really capture that. I'm glad to know that this author did such an amazing job.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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  21. your aunt would love to read this book as it sounds really good. email is DWhiteley@lewistonschools.net

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  22. Have read some good reviews of this and am interested in reading it and making up my own mind.

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  23. Sounds great...

    gfc follower

    vidishamun at gmail dot com

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  24. This has gotten rave reviews and I look forward to reading it.

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  25. Good book. Really enjoy memoirs with their intimate look into the lives of others.

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