3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dull and manipulative,
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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.