A Pulitzer Prize–winning author’s heartfelt memoir of her midlife friendship with a fellow writer.
Caldwell, then book-review editor for the Boston Globe, and Caroline Knapp, a columnist for the Boston Phoenix, connected in 1996, when their love of their dogs, Clementine and Lucille, brought them together in a meadow near Boston. Besides writing and dogs, the two women had much in common, including athleticism, health problems, a history of alcoholism and belief in the value of psychodynamic therapy. Caldwell, some eight or nine years older than Knapp, devotes a sizable chunk of this volume to an account of her long struggle with alcoholism and her recovery from it. Knapp had previously published a memoir titled Drinking: A Love Story. These two brainy, independent women, both somewhat introverted loners, spent hours outdoors together, walking, talking, exercising their beloved dogs, rowing and swimming. Knapp, a devoted rower, trained Caldwell in that skill, and Caldwell taught Knapp to become a good swimmer. Each admired the prowess of the other and strove to achieve it. When time allowed, they vacationed together, sometimes with Knapp’s boyfriend along, sometimes with just their loyal dogs. Caldwell writes with deep feeling, but without sentimentality, about the life-altering friendship they formed. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. In April 2002, Knapp was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, and less than two months later she died. The story of that final illness and of Caldwell’s grief at losing her best friend is a poignant and powerful.
Will resonate with women readers of all ages, who, if they are dog lovers, will be doubly moved.