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Crossing to Safety by Wallace Earle Stegner
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Crossing to Safety (1987)

by Wallace Earle Stegner

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,1611022,536 (4.16)321
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» See also 321 mentions

English (96)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (1)  All languages (102)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
Definitely my favorite Stegner so far. Supposedly this is a sort of autobiographical account. The story is about a close friendship between two couples that survives years and distance. It is a slow moving story, full of everyday life and relationships. It would be a great book club book just for the discussion about personalities, relationships, marriages. I liked that the two women in the story remained friends in spite of differences in personality and character, and that the men remained friends in spite of one having all the success that the other wished for. What I loved about the book was the honesty. There was nothing hidden about the relationships between friends or spouses. Rather, the everyday quality of the faithfulness of the men to their women and the women to their men and the love that overcame every difficulty made the book beautiful. I have heard it referred to as a quintessentially "American" book, and I think that is true. It is as familiar as apple pie and my grandparents. ( )
  nittnut | Sep 5, 2018 |
An enjoyable, enveloping read; not for everyone perhaps, it is about English professors and their lives. A thought provoking book. ( )
  charlie68 | Aug 10, 2018 |
The prose is spectacular. You read to hang on every sentence, not necessarily to know what happens next. What a privilege. ( )
  jpnygard | Aug 2, 2018 |
When I closed this book and laid it aside, my hand was shaking. The shaking was coming from deep inside my body and soul, where Wallace Stegner had infused me with words and images that caused me to tremble with recognition.

Stegner understands relationships and he also understands the part of the individual that is never given away to anyone else. He paints that so clearly that you see yourself in it as if it were a mirror. If you cannot see elements of your own marriage in this portrait, you can surely see elements of the marriages you have observed up-close and personal. If you have ever had a friend who lifted you and held you when you would have otherwise fallen, and felt the obligations that accompany such a love, you will recognize that friendship as well. You can feel the bond and the tense pull against it equally.

Lastly, Stegner understands time, inevitability, fate. He sees the struggle and recognizes it as belonging to each of us.

“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. but within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.”

As organized and controlling as Charity is, she cannot control death or any of what will come after. It is the ultimate fallacy that she believes until the end that she has done that. At the end of this tale, what I know for sure is that Sid will survive and he will have to make his own decisions over which Charity can no longer exercise control. And in doing that, he will feel both his loss of her and his freedom from her in equal measure.

Stegner prefaces his book with a quotation from Robert Frost’s poem, I Could Give All to Time. It provides him with a title for his book, but more than that, it echoes its theme. The things in life that are most precious to us are the intangibles, the things we can barely identify ourselves, and the things no one can possibly rip from us.

I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.


I spent several hours reading and re-reading this poem today, and wondering why I never sat with it before, to digest and devour it, but only admired it in passing, with Frost always being such a favorite poet of mine.

I find it difficult to put into words the impact this novel had on me as I read it. I loved every single, carefully chosen, word. I walked the hills of Vermont, danced to the late night records, felt the intensity of the love between these people, and understood the relationships they had forged, in ways that boggled my own mind. It is an immediate addition to the “favorites” folder. I strongly recommend it to any and all readers.

My sincere thanks to Elyse who put this wonderful author on my radar. I cannot wait to read Angle of Repose!
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
This book is about two couples (Larry and Sally, Charity and Sid) who become best friends during the thirties. It ends in the seventies as Charity is dying of cancer. Charity is the strongest character in the book. Though she is kind and generous, she is a person who must have order in her world. She plans every minute of the day for herself and everyone else in her life. This holds true even at the end of the story when she is facing death. Larry and Sid are both English instructors and Larry eventually becomes a noted writer. He is the narrator in the book, but it sometimes feels as though he is also the author. The writing is philosophical, introspective, and at times seemed autobiographical. I especially appreciated Stegner's love of nature which is on display throughout the book with his beautiful descriptive passages.

I don't know how I missed this book when it was first published in 1987, but I agree with those who say it is an "adult" book. I would not have appreciated it then, but I loved reading it now that I am in my seventies. Even though my life is nothing like the characters in the book, the feelings invoked as the narrator looks back on his life are very familiar to me. My only regret is that I read it too fast, and I skimmed over some parts of the book because I was anxious to see how it ended. But that's not a problem because it is a book that is meant to be read more than once. Next time I will pay more attention to the details. ( )
  slsmith101 | Jul 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wallace Earle Stegnerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Smiley, JaneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I could give all to Time except-except

What I myself have held. But why declare

The things forbidden that while the Customs slept

I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There

And what I would not part with I have kept.

Robert Frost
Dedication
For M.P.S., in gratitude for more than half a century of love and friendship, and to the friends we were both blessed by.
First words
Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory. curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
This is a novel by one of the grand masters of American fiction, about two couples who form a fast-and lifelong-friendship. It begins in the mid-thirties, in mid-Depression, when a nice, bright couple from the West with gifts and dreams but no prospects or connections meets a nice, bright couple from the East with wealth-and the generosity to share.

Set against the backgrounds of several beautifully rendered and most typical American landscapes, the story of the friendship between Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Land makes for fiction of humor, sadness, and celebration, that rare novel which the reader declares a gift. Mr. Stegner brilliantly brings to life America as it changes, grows older, evolves, and how the Langs and the Morgans do the same. Each stumbles through life supported by the others, yet in that support, Mr. Stegner renders the occasional penalties of closeness and loyalty, the occasional perils of asking forgiveness. Each achieves a different safety by a different means, yet all are held together by the love of friends.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037575931X, Paperback)

It's deceptively simple: two bright young couples meet during the Depression and form an instant and lifelong friendship. "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" Larry Morgan, a successful novelist and the narrator of the story, poses that question many years after he and his wife, Sally, have befriended the vibrant, wealthy, and often troubled Sid and Charity Lang. "Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish?" It's not here. What is here is just as fascinating, just as compelling, as touching, and as tragic.

Crossing to Safety is about loyalty and survival in its most everyday form--the need to create bonds and the urge to tear them apart. Thirty-four years after their first meeting, when Larry and Sally are called back to the Langs' summer home in Vermont, it's as if for a final showdown. How has this friendship defined them? What is its legacy? Stegner offer answers in those small, perfectly rendered moments that make up lives "as quiet as these"--and as familiar as our own. --Sara Nickerson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"Called a "magnificently crafted story ... brimming with wisdom" by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage."--Jacket.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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