Reminiscent of Beaches, Let’s Take The Long Way Home, is about two close friends. It is brief, less than 200 pages. More pages would quite possibly have made the subject matter unbearable. For me, the book arrived propitiously. Having just lost my closest friend (for decades), more like a sister, I was hoping I could read this book and gain comfort from the telling of her tale about loss and friendship.
I felt as if the first quarter of the book and last quarter of the book were more about friendship, but it seemed to degenerate, in the middle, into a memoir about Caldwell’s climb from alcoholism, among other things, which slowed the pace of it. Actually, near the end I simply skimmed it, because when it dealt with the death and dying of Caroline, her dear friend, I found it too sad to continue and had to put it down for a respite.
In her way, Gail Caldwell has put flesh on the bones of sorrow and enabled the reader to travel with her on the road she traveled with Caroline Knapp. Single, independent and successful, they became fast friends, not at first meeting, but several years later when their shared love of their dogs brought them together and cemented their relationship. Their separate hobbies of swimming and rowing inspired each to teach the other the one they lacked and grew the friendship ever closer. Both were recovering alcoholics, both had secrets and loss in their lives. Although they were separated in age by nine years, they seemed like clones to their friends, so alike were they in their personalities and lifestyles. To me, it felt more like a marriage than a friendship, so committed were they to each other.
If you like Gail Caldwell’s style of writing or are simply a fan of hers, you will enjoy the book, but keep plenty of tissues on hand.