Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell is a memoir of the deep and beautiful friendship that Gail shared with her best friend Caroline Knapp. It is also a novel of the depth of Gail’s grief at losing her best friend Caroline to cancer. This novel touched me on so many levels and although I’ve never met this author I feel a kinship with her just through her words and I’ll explain this more later on. I know it may sound weird to say that a book about someone’s death and another’s grief is beautiful but his novel is just that. Yes it is sad but if you can get past that, you will find your heart touched by this wonderful friendship, not only between friends, but also between humans and pets. It’s a book I won’t soon forget and as I turned the last page I found myself wanting to go and start it over again.
Gail and Caroline had much in common. The biggest difference between the two was their age as Gail was nine years older than Caroline. Other than that they were like two peas in a pod – both were writers, both had and loved their dogs, both had struggled with alcoholism, both were very competitive, and that’s just tip of the things they found they had in common. I think it’s interesting to note that they met late in life – Caroline was in her late thirties and Gail older. Often we think that ‘best friends’ need to be those that are formed when we are younger but in Gail’s memoir, we see that isn’t always the case. The deep bond of friendship that these women formed in a very short time is testament to that.
Their bond was initially brought on by their dogs Clementine and Lucille. Both women had just gotten puppies and wanted to train them. They would take them out to the woods and walk while the dogs ran around and played. This became a ritual for them, where the dogs would be let loose while they walked and talked about anything and everything. Within a short time they found that they had shared more together in terms of their lives than they had thought possible. They shared everything and called each other all the time. Theirs was a friendship that would last forever.
Then came the shattering news that Caroline had Stage four lung cancer and it was untreatable. There is no worse news. Thus begins the journey you take with someone that ultimately you know you are losing. Of course Gail spends all the time she can with Caroline and does everything she can to make things easier for her. There is no escaping the inevitable though. No matter how much you wish it isn’t so, life will take the path it is on to the end. It was truly heartbreaking to read Gail’s words describing her grief and the future without Caroline.
I connected with Gail on two very important levels. One is losing a best friend to cancer and another is loving your dog with everything you have so that when you lose that pet you feel certain life is over and yet you keep waking up to see another day. Losing anyone to cancer is devastating and I can still clearly remember the grief of losing my friend and it’s been years now. When Gail talks about her dog Clementine from a puppy to old age, I could feel so many similarities that there are between pet lovers. When she talks about losing her dog on top of losing Caroline my heart truly broke. Anyone who reads my blog knows of me losing my beloved Buddy just last year and although I don’t talk about it anymore, I am far from being over it. I will always miss him and love him. It is in these ways that this memoir of Gail’s really touched my heart and will stay there.
I think for those who enjoy reading memoirs this is one you shouldn’t miss. I know it sounds weird to say that I like reading memoirs of people who have cancer or have experienced it’s effects through a friendship. I hesitate to say that I like reading these types of books – I think it’s more the connection I feel through them that attracts me. With Gail’s memoir her relationship both with Caroline and her dog Clementine really is what brings me to say that this is a really good memoir and that’s saying a lot since I don’t read a whole lot of them. Also I think my need to read these types of memoirs is really to see how the people in them survive and move on to live their lives. I don’t think I’ll forget this book for a good long while. Just a warning – be prepared with some tissues.
To end I’d like to share a few quotes that really stuck with me…
‘Grief is what tells you who you are alone.’ (pg 3)
‘What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part.’ (pg 9)
‘Death is a divorce nobody asked for; to live through it is to find a way to disengage from what you thought you couldn’t stand to lose.’ (pg 153)
‘I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.’ (pg 182)
I read Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell for her Book Tour with TLC Book Tours. You can see what others on the tour thought of the book here. You can purchase Let’s Take the Long Way Home here in the US and here in Canada.
I have one copy of Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell to share with my readers…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with an email address to contact you (no email, no entry).
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This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winner on Saturday, August 27/11. Good luck everyone!
© 2010, Darlene of Peeking Between the Pages. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Peeking Between the Pages or Darlene’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.My copy of Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the Publisher.