Let's Take the Long Way Home

What the Critics say:
From 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

From Publisher's Weekly:

Starred Review. 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 stage four 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.

What I Say:

This book changed me.  It broke my heart.  In tiny little pieces and I was undone for days.  I am so grateful to have read it.

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