New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

New Life, No Instructions

The Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of Let’s Take the Long Way Home now gives us a stunning, exquisitely written memoir about a dramatic turning point in her life, which unexpectedly opened up a world of understanding, possibility, and connection. New Life, No Instructions is about the surprising way life can begin again, at any age. “What do you do when the story changes in midlife? When a tale you have told your...

Details New Life, No Instructions

TitleNew Life, No Instructions
Release DateApr 1st, 2014
PublisherRandom House Audio
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Biography Memoir, Animals, Dogs

Reviews New Life, No Instructions

  • Sue
    Having read and enjoyed Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, I was curious about and very happy to have the opportunity to read this "sequel" of sorts that picks up several years after Caldwell's friend Caroline's death and after the subsequent death of her parents and her beloved dog Clementine. It's a story of love, life, death, mourning and cheer, health and pain, struggle and recovery -- this time physical. It's also a story ...
  • Joy
    Excellent memoir! Will write more later but for now I'll just say I highly recommend it and plan to read more of Gail's books! Some favorite quotes - " We need to remember, I think, that dying isn't the worst thing. That getting to love someone on the way out is a great honor, easy to forget in the wake of so much sorrow.""... run past all your sorrows, and dance and keep on going, until we all fall down." This is a beautifully written book, very...
  • Joshunda Sanders
    I was too absorbed in learning how to be a newspaper lady, as my mom called me, when Gail Caldwell won a Pulitzer for criticism in 2001. I wouldn't discover her beautiful writing until I read her wonderful second memoir, Let's Take the Long Way Home, about her friendship with Caroline Knapp. There are so few acknowledged, lovely narratives about the beautifully deep intimacy of the bonds women forge with one another -- Ann Patchett's Truth and Be...
  • Diane S ☔
    A childhood bout with polio left Caldwell with one shorter leg than the other, a condition that caused her to walk later than usual and which caused her a great deal of pain throughout her life. A hip operation in her late fifties caused her to take stock of her life, and after the pain and frustration of physical therapy, to celebrate a new way of life. Loved her closeness and memories of her father, and of course her love for dogs which plays a...
  • Nicholas
    Here's the thing: Caldwell's second memoir, Let's Take the Long Way Home, sets a really high bar. It's sad and simple and profound and totally wrenching in its portrayal of the loss of a friend. By contrast I found her first memoir about growing up on the plains of West Texas a bit boring. I was excited for this one, Number Three. And it's disappointing. It's a bit of a melange of themes from the earlier two books: her parents, her childhood poli...
  • Rebecca
    Caldwell, former chief book critic for the Boston Globe and 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, lost her parents, her best friend, and a beloved dog all within six years. Moreover, she’d always limped and hunched in pain after having polio as a child in early-1950s Texas. She dealt with post-polio syndrome by jokingly telling people she had a “bum leg” (an editor once said to her “I always thought that was a swagger”), but gradual...
  • Peg
    A big 'Thank You' to NetGalley for an e-copy of this latest book by Gail Caldwell.This is the second book I've read by this author and have thoroughly enjoyed both of them. She's an expert at getting her point across using plain English, no bad language, and exceptional prose.Ms. Caldwell can take ordinary happenings in life, or not so ordinary in her case in this book, and writes a story that leaves me wanting more. She has suffered immeasurable...
  • Holly
    Another exquisitely written book from Gail Caldwell. I also know that my living alone had a huge impact on the help I got, and not simply because people think, "Oh, she's solo; she needs a hand." It's because solitude itself makes you stretch your heart - the usual buffers of spouse and children are missing, so you reach toward the next circle of intimacy. I've appreciated this distinction for years: Single people form different depths and kinds ...
  • Janet
    Dog lover and writer pens another personal piece, this one on her hip replacement surgery. I love her clear, simple writing that cuts to the heart. "Dogs have a present-tense alacrity that makes short shrift of yesterday's bad news. They are hard-wired to charge forth, to expect good outcomes, and that viewpoint can shape the future as much as it anticipates it.""A lot of my adult life has been spent within shouting distance of others but in my o...
  • Anna
    I loved Let's Take the Long Way Home so so much. Gail Caldwell just seems so spiky and cool and determined! This is a bit of a cautionary tale of medical advice as doctors put Caldwell's increasing pain down to the polio she had as a baby and corresponding limp when it turns out that she was overdue for a hip replacement. Most of us laymen can't read an x-ray but apparently, her hip was so damaged it was obvious to her. I loved the description of...
  • Rikki
    It's very hard for a single person, living with just her dog, to face a debilitating operation, which involves huge problems of mobility, when already troubled by the after effects of polio as a child which left Gail with one leg shorter than the other. This proved to be something of a red herring and led to medical problems being misdiagnosed until her hip needed complete replacement.Fortunately, she was blessed with wonderful friends and family...
  • Susan
    I heard Gail interviewed on NPR recently and went and picked up this book, and her earlier memoir, Take the Long Way home. Enjoyed both immensely. Her fierce intelligence shines through - her appreciation of friendship, her love of literature, her endurance, her insight - these are what make Caldwell an approachable and likeable writer. Her love of dogs is appealing and the mindfulness of being out in nature, rowing, or walking in the woods, show...
  • Ashley
    I absolutely loved this memoir. It felt as if the author was speaking to me candidly - maybe over a cup of coffee in the kitchen - the whole time. The stories of her polio, hip replacement, dogs, mother, 'tribe' or friends - all were interwoven perfectly and each left a lasting impression. There were so many beautiful phrases in this book - especially the line about grief being survived by outlasting it - and I definitely recommend this book.
  • Heather Fineisen
    When I started this, I thought it was about dogs. And I like dogs. But it morphed into so much more than that. It just took a while for it to stop being about dogs. I will look for more writing by Caldwell and will definitely revisit this when I need some perspective during times of grief. Or if I get hip surgery. Or a dog, definitely if I get a dog, or just think about getting a dog.Provided by publisher
  • Bianka Jimenez
    Through the eyes of someone who has thought their life was set, witty and down-to earth explanation of what is like in the life of Gail. Hardships and everyday life, gives reader a path to stop and think of their own path.
  • Nancy Kennedy
    I was familiar with this author from having read her earlier memoir, Let's Take the Long Way Home. In that book, the author's insights and lyrical writing just took my breath away. She articulated both the beauty and the deep pain of a close friendship.This time, Ms. Caldwell's focus is on a dog, a debilitating medical condition and the death of her mother. Of the three topics, I was most drawn to her chapters on her mother's life. I haven't walk...
  • Robert Miller
    I haven't read any of the author's previous work and so I don't know if this book was intended to be a sequel to any of her books referenced in the jacket. She explains how she was a victim of polio at birth and how the virus caused her to limp because one leg was slightly shorter than the other; the impact of this condition pervades throughout the book and strongly affects her resolve on most aspects of her life, from her quasi rebellious youth,...
  • Tracy
    While this memoir is no match for the emotionally powerful "Let's Take the Long Way Home", this is a strong follow up and speaks to the author's physical maladies that she erroneously attributes to post polio syndrome and end up requiring major surgery. The book begins with her finding a new dog (Tula) after the death of of a beloved pet and as she is training the puppy, she sees and feels her physical decline in comparison to the puppy's strengt...
  • Janice
    It took me a little bit to get into this book, but once I did I loved it. This beautifully written memoir recounts the mid-life crisis the author felt when her physical health deteriorated to the point that she feared for her future mobility and independence. Ms. Caldwell faced these issues while still dealing with the death of her mother, and of a beloved dog. Her strong circle of friends, family, and a new pet in her life, helped support her du...
  • Melissa
    As a reticent reader of non-fiction, I was happy to discover Gail Caldwell earlier this year. Her books are just so comfortable and readable. While not packing the same punch as Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, this book is still a good read and Ms. Caldwell's writing style makes me feel as if she is sitting across from me telling me the tale herself. If you enjoyed Long Walk, I think you will enjoy this one too. You don't ne...
  • Kim
    Oh,heck, I don't know. I was excited to read this based on the description, which made it sound like a dramatic turn of events forced Caldwell to eye-examine her whole life. And yes, I suppose that did happen, but it was FAR less dramatic than I had anticipated. I don't want to wish tragedy on anyone, but I found myself asking, "Wait. That's it?!?"Her writing is eloquent and as introspective as you would expect a memoir to be, but I was left want...
  • Bobbi
    This was such a short book, that it was over before I could really feel what it was all about. Because of her polio and long overdue diagnosis of hip arthritis, hers was not a typical hip replacement surgery. One of the reasons why I picked up this book is that I'm about to have back surgery and thought I'd find some information about a difficult journey here. I certainly hope mine isn't as difficult as hers, but she certainly worked hard to recl...
  • Brian
    This was a beautifully written memoir with elegant prose and a nice story to boot. Our author writes about a few topics: her surgery that helped her learn to walk properly, her relationship with animals, as well as her relationship with her mother. The book jumps back and forth with an ease that is hard to come across naturally but she does so very eloquently. This was a very short book but it was a powerful one that makes me think about my own l...
  • Debbi
    I loved Lets Take the Long Way Home. The themes of love and friendship are universal and appealing. I like Gail Caldwell's writing it's very warm and accessible with out sounding sloppy or too familiar. Unfortunately I wasn't taken with this memoir. Hip surgery and adjusting to a new puppy are experiences people tend edit out when telling their story (for good reason). So,although I think Caldwell did a good job with her material it just didn't r...
  • Cleokatra
    It's rare that I finish a book in one day, but this is a short one and it really grabbed me. I related to the first half of the book, as a pet owner whose companion animal was recently diagnosed with a chronic disease. I related to the second half, as an adult who has overcome a disability. She captures the nuances of that experience as only someone who has been there can. I hope writing this memoir was as therapeutic for the author as reading it...
  • Lori Anderson
    A timely book for me, about how to heal from a chronic condition. The author chronicles bits of her life and her hip replacement surgery and recuperation with help from friends and dogs. She isn't always Little Miss Sunshine (which I appreciate) but she's real, and I like that.
  • Amanda
    Gail Caldwell and Caroline Knapp are by far my 2 favorite memoirists. I have read everything either of them has published and they are all excellent. This one is no exception. It's a sequel of sorts to Let's Take the Long Way Home.
  • Gini
    Probably my favorite book of the year.
  • Maria Ryan
    Memoirs are a Slippery SlopeI recently wrote that one of the reasons I am wary of reading memoirs is that in the wrong hands they can convey messages that I am certain an author would have no intention of conveying. Self-absorption, entitlement, lack of dimension, and a general lack of understanding the meaning of truly serving others which comes from something other than penciling in volunteerism on a calendar when and if a cause suits you are w...