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Crossing to Safety (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 30 Mar 2006

4.4 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (30 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188010
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 342,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Not only a book of a lifetime, Crossing to Safety is a book that comes at the end of a long lifetime of writing....a miraculous book, written with the wisdom of age but without seeming old...A book of great maturity, this one, and not to be missed.
-- Gillian Slovo, The Independent, Friday 5th December 2008

From the Inside Flap

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 31 July 1999
Format: 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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stegner, Wallace. Crossing to Safety

Wallace Stegner tells the story of four friends, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang, who meet as new faculty members at Madison, Wisconsin. Sid and Charity are rich, while Larry and Sally are poor, but this disparity is soon forgotten as the Langs throw a party for all new members, at which performances are obligatory. The Langs proceed to adopt their poor relations, finding them intellectually stimulating and congenial. After a year, however, Larry is terminated despite his having published articles and a book, while, owing to the financial squeeze of the Depression, Sid is retained for just one more year. Early on it is established that Charity Lang is the leader of social and cultural events, insisting on the Morgans occupying their house over the summer vacation. Charity has plans, for everyone including the Morgans their ‘adoptive’ family and their new-born daughter, Lang Morgan.
Mostly the tone is reminiscential, as Larry recalls the glorious summer in Arcady before he became an editor for Uncle Richard in Albuquerque, a post in which he more than doubled his university salary. He has even managed to repay the Langs after several years, during which time both women have physically deteriorated - Charity, now a mulltiple mum, being stricken with cancer, Sally crippled with polio. But the parties continue, now with swarms of kids attached, as does Charity’s determination to divert her husband’s efforts from writing poetry into recognised scholarship.

I was thankful to find no happy ending, no tacked on or hopeful last episode - except for the symbolic survival of a presumed drowned mouse. As Larry says, ‘You can’t be close to the mortality of friends without being brought to think of your own.’ I felt that I had understood Larry and rooted for him in his battles with the redoubtable Charity, a finely drawn character whom I’d go a mile to avoid.
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