Drinking, a Love Story – Caroline Knapp

“it happened this way:  I fell in love and then, because the love was ruining everything I cared about, I had to fall out”

Journalist Caroline Knapp began drinking in her early teens and continued until she hit “rock bottom” at the age of 36.  She was very much a “functioning alcoholic” and few people suspected she had a problem.  She recounts the years of denial that helped her to deal with blackouts, hangovers, broken relationships and family tensions.

Her parents were both educated professionals and “cocktails at 7” was a family ritual in an undemonstrative household.  She discovers eventually that her adored father was in fact an alcoholic as well as a philandering husband which resonates with the fact that she was drinking heavily during her simultaneous relationship with two men.  Much as she longed to connect more with her father their relationship was always strained while her mother constantly begged her to address her drinking.

This is a stylish memoir which is devoid of self-pity.  Caroline interweaves her personal history with factual information about alcohol abuse.  She drank through her parents’ painful deaths just a year apart, raiding their liquor cabinet and hiding bottles in the bathroom.

The death of her prominent analyst father started her on the slow path to recovery although it was almost two years after his death before she checked into rehab.  As a result of rehab and nightly AA meetings she was finally able to take control of her life.  Literature played a role in her recovery and she found inspiration in Pete Hamill’s “A Drinking Life”.

Caroline got sober at the age of 36 but tragically died 6 years later of lung cancer.

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