Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Life, No Instructions; Gail Caldwell

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 New Life, No Instructions; Gail Caldwell
Random House - 2014

I loved Gail Caldwell’s previous memoir, Let’s Take the Long Way Home, which focused on her friendship with author Caroline Knapp, who passed away in her 40s after battling cancer. Her new memoir, New Life, No Instructions is about Gail and much of the book is a reflection on the sadder parts of her life. She writes about dealing with the bumps in the road of life and moving forward. Her story tells about losing loved ones and loyal canine family to death. She also writes about dealing with the demons of her past, about growing old and about facing physical challenges and limitations.


In a span of 10 years the author experienced devastating loss: her best friend, Caroline, her mother and her beloved dog, Clementine. In addition because Gail was stricken polio as a child in 1951, and it wasn't diagnosed right away, she dealt with a slight limp and related pain for years. She navigated from one specialist to another, but as she approached her sixties, she faced the fact that she needed to undergo hip replacement surgery to remain mobile in her later years. The surgery also included the slight lengthening of her shorter leg which resulted from the polio. 

This is Gail's story, and although I did not find myself tearing up as I did when I read her previous book, I really enjoyed reading this story as well.  The author writes with both wisdom and grace. She's had a lot of bumps in life, some self induced, but she strikes me as a wise woman is a better and now stronger person because of what she has had to endure. I  loved that she shared so much about her beloved pups who helped pull her out of tremendous grief. Her story makes you think about the people and things we hold nearest and dearest to us. 

4/5 stars
(eGalley)

6 comments:

  1. It sounds like the author has had a sad life. I love a good memoir so I'll try to find this book.

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  2. I enjoy memoirs of the "everyman", or authors, rather than celebs so this sounds like a good one for me. I have skirted around picking up a Caroline Knapp book (her best friend) because I assumed it would be depressing. This one I think I could handle--thanks.

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  3. That sounds like a good one too! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

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  4. This sounds like a touching memoir. Pets can be so important.

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  5. I want to read this, too. The author is in her 50s now, I think? I need some guidance for doing my 50s right, while I can still say I'm in the early stages!

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  6. I enjoyed Let's Take the Long Way Home (4/5 rating), so I'm eager to give this one a try. Have you read Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas? You might enjoy that one, as well. I love a good memoir!

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