As I was writing last week's review of Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, I realized I hadn't reviewed Let's Take the Long Way Home, another great story of female friendship that I mention in that review. In honor of the power of women and the ties that bind them, and in celebration of Women's History Month, here it is: my favorite memoir of female friendship. But be warned: It will bring you to tears more than once.
This heartbreaking story of friendship — between two women and between dogs and humans — is powerful and shattering. I first read Drinking: A Love Story, which is Caroline Knapp's memoir about her struggle with alcoholism. This book begins after that one was published and tell the story of the friendship between Gail, who fights her own battle with alcoholism, and Caroline. After seeing how Caroline viewed herself, it was surprising in some ways to see the different way that Gail perceived her. I think that reading Drinking first gave me a deeper insight into Caroline's character, although Let's Take the Long Way Home is the book that I loved.
Fair warning: the last third of the book will leave you in tears, yet the reason I read this it because I wanted to see how Gail made it through the loss of her best friend. How do you go on when you can't? As she says in the first sentence: "It's an old, old story: I had a friend and we shared everything, and then she died and so we shared that, too."
Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell (Random House, 2010)
My rating: 5 stars