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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wallace Stegner - Crossing to Safety
Crossing to Safety is a remarkably beautiful book backed up by a tender, stern intelligence. It's one to be savoured. It is rare to ever feel so connected to characters on the page, to feel you know them so completely, that they could genuinely be picked straight out of life at the time. I loved it. Both couples' journey from youth to late-middle age is examined with a...
Published on 27 Jun 2009 by RachelWalker

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and manipulative
While Crossing to Safety is sprinkled with many bits of quality writing, I really did not like this novel. It is the story of the long-term relationship between two couples, which is frankly a boring story, and the problem is that it is not told in a way that makes it any less dull. I fully agree with the view expressed by another reviewer that the most significant flaw...
Published 12 months ago by CFB London


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wallace Stegner - Crossing to Safety, 27 Jun 2009
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Crossing to Safety is a remarkably beautiful book backed up by a tender, stern intelligence. It's one to be savoured. It is rare to ever feel so connected to characters on the page, to feel you know them so completely, that they could genuinely be picked straight out of life at the time. I loved it. Both couples' journey from youth to late-middle age is examined with a wonderful human eye, seeing all the details that make such people truly human. The interplay and the tensions between all four players are subtle and fascinating. Crossing to Safety is a book I recommend wholeheartedly. It's to treasure.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading, 31 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Crossing to Safety (Paperback)
This is the book my wife and I fell in love with after we fell in love with each other more than 12 years ago. Whenever we talk with friends about favorite books, we INSIST that they read Crossing to Safety. We've had to buy several copies over the years because we keep lending copies out -- and we can't blame any of our friends for not returning this book. It's a keeper. Wallace Stegner said this novel was the closest he came to writing autobiographically, which explains a certain brightness not found in, say, Angle of Repose (although AOR is an equally beautiful story).
This is simply a beautifully told story about how a friendship formed and aged, so powerfully written that you will come to appreciate your own friends -- and how you came to be friends -- all the more for having made the journey with the couples in Crossing to Safety. This is a book you fall in love with and return to. I'm actually online right now to buy another copy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Didn't want it to end, 31 Jan 2010
By 
Realised that I was reading slower and slower because I didn't want this book to end, and now that I've finished I want to go back - wind back the years - and start again. Wallace Stegner is a breathtakingly good writer and this novel, written towards the end of his long life, has the wisdom of old age - and yet retains memories of all the freshness of youth and hope.
'If we could have foreseen the future during those good years in Madison where all this began, we might not have had the nerve to venture into it ...' This book is about Life, I know that sounds corny but I can't think how else to put it. It is about two young couples and all that life throws at them. It will make you think about your own life and friendships and love and loyalty.
'Leave a mark on the world. Instead the world has left marks on us ...' Probably not a book to read when you're young - if I'd read this in my 20s, even my 30s, I don't think I'd have got it - but for the middleaged and slightly battered, a profoundly emotional read. One of those rare, unforgettable books that become part of what you are. (And the descriptions of New England landscapes are like a garden of Eden.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull and manipulative, 18 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Crossing to Safety (Paperback)
While Crossing to Safety is sprinkled with many bits of quality writing, I really did not like this novel. It is the story of the long-term relationship between two couples, which is frankly a boring story, and the problem is that it is not told in a way that makes it any less dull. I fully agree with the view expressed by another reviewer that the most significant flaw in this book (which is fundamental) is that the author transparently tells the reader his intended messages through the words of the characters with no subtlety rather than conveying the messages through a story. I have just started another novel where in the introduction it is stated about this other novel: "It tells us nothing more than what we need to know, and then it stands back, trusting the intelligence of the reader to flesh out the rest". This is the opposite approach from that taken in Crossing to Safety.

While I found the start of the story enjoyable enough, it became increasingly painful to read, in part because of the manipulative character development. The four main characters are intended to be impressive (with repeated overt signs of how sophisticated and cultured they are) but to me each of them came across as annoying and unlikeable. The characters constantly heap praise and adulation on each other, referring to each other as "wonderful", "brilliant", "amazing", etc. , while at the same time each acts modest by pointing out that he/she has flaws. In addition, throughout the book there is an awkward and pretentious overuse of name-dropping of authors and literary references.

I persevered through Crossing to Safety and didn't think it could get any worse until I had to endure an unbearable chapter near the end about the two couples' extended holiday in Italy, including a description of the art they saw at museums and the charming locals they met. What a bore.

Overall, while I appreciate that many others have enjoyed this book and that it is critically acclaimed, for the reasons mentioned above I would not recommend it and do not believe that it warrants characterisation as a modern classic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant read, 21 Nov 2012
By 
Cloggie Downunder (Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Crossing to Safety is the last novel by American author Wallace Stegner. The year is 1972, and 64-year-old author and college professor, Larry Morgan and his crippled wife, Sally, journey from Albuquerque to enjoy again the hospitality of their friends, Sidney and Charity Lang, at Battell Pond, Vermont. The occasion, Charity's birthday is, however, tinged with sadness as Charity has only a short time to live. On their return to this much loved place, Larry reflects on the couples' friendship, from their meeting as young college teachers in Madison, Wisconsin in 1937, through to tenure at Cambridge, a year's sabbatical together in Florence and back to Albuquerque. Stegner slowly and surely crafts a story with a wonderfully original plot and beautifully developed characters. Two couples, four vastly different people become friends: warm, generous, uncomplaining and thoughtful Sally; dazzling, dominating, theatrical Charity, occasionally a woman of noble generosity, at other times cruel, but always organising, even her own death; Sid, rich as Croesus, a wonderful teacher and sometimes poet; and Larry, a poor, talented author, loyal husband and friend. Stegner touches on the nature of talent, love, friendship and marriage. He includes a marvellous piece of irony when he has Larry explaining why he would not write a book about their friendship: "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these? Where are the things that novelists seize upon and readers expect? Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish? Where are the suburban infidelities, the promiscuities, the convulsive divorces, the alcohol, the drugs, the lost weekends? Where are the hatreds, the political ambitions, the lust for power? Where are the speed, noise, ugliness, everything that makes us who we are and makes us recognise ourselves in fiction?" This could easily be a description of "Crossing to Safety". And yet, this novel has drama and emotion and some beautiful prose. A brilliant read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I would like to read more Wallace Stegner!, 13 Jun 1998
By A Customer
A wonderful reading experience, especially since this is the first Wallace Stegner book I have read. I am now driven to read "Angle of Repose" and "The Sound of Mountain Water", and perhaps other works of his in the future. The prose is beautiful in its fluidity and richness of details, save maybe for Stegner's skewed characterization of Charity over Sally. Personally, I would not like to meet a character like Charity, and I do not understand how a reasonably strong character like Sid would put up with her, unless, of course, he is attracted to exceedingly cosmopolitan and worldly---not to mention annoyingly feisty and obsessive-compulsive---types like Charity. The last part was a little slow, and I was somehow expecting that Larry would find Sid in that "edenic pool" that seemed like their (the two couples') best-kept secret from their long-ago hike in the woods. I would think that that might be an appropriate symbol of Sid's reconnecting with his persona without Charity's incessant controlling and smothering manipulation---that it was never too late to find himself and feel free again. I know it sounds selfish, but , inasmuch as their friendships seemed so perfect and ideal, Charity's dominant personality and self-righteousness spelled like a potential omen to their entire relationship. Moderation and the tenets of civility ruled over the book, however, and I was nonetheless captivated by it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant and Poised, 14 Aug 2006
By 
This novel captures the interace between two couples as they grow and mature both together and apart. The perspective of the elderly narrator brings a careful sensitivity and honesty to the relationships and the execution of the final set pieces is pitched just right. If you enjoyed any of the John Updike Rabbit books, or have enjoyed William Wharton's Tidings or Dad then you will love this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 22 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Crossing to Safety (Paperback)
I must admit that I started this book at least three times, not being able to get past the first chapter or two. My friend had recommended it so highly, I figured there must be something to it. I did get past those first ten or fifteen pages and that was all she wrote. I couldn't stop reading this book until I had to - when it came to an end. What a tremendous story of friendship, acceptance and love. I am going out to purchase Angle of Repose tomorrow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it!, 19 Mar 2013
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Slow and unpromising initially and the American style of writing was at times off putting. The smugness and lack of self doubt in any aspect of life of the story teller was annoying but the portrayal of a marriage between a dominant wife and apparently more passive husband interesting and helpful, as were the examples of how to cope with disabling and terminal illnesses of Sally and Charity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 3 Jan 2013
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Heard a +ve review for this one on Radio 4 and got it as a Christmas present. Read it in two days, enjoying every minute. You really, really connect with the characters - two couples that meet in their early 20's. It is a truly splendid journey that provokes thought and reflection like no other book I have read before. He wrote this as an old man looking back picking out all the key moments in an epic friendship. Wow.
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Crossing to Safety
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
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