- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 25 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 14 Aug. 2009
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SQ5Y96
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Crossing to Safety Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audio Download, Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
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.
Choose this book if you enjoy fine observation of realistic characters, reflection rather than events. You don't need to know what it's about, though you have probably seen a summary saying it's about the relationship between two couples. That doesn't matter. What matters is the way he writes about them. When the couples are about to meet for the first time, the narrator rings the doorbell and devotes half a page of discussion to the meaning of pressing the button. The meeting itself generates a longer essay. It is almost as reflective as Proust and indeed early in the book the narrator says he is going for a walk to do a little recherche du temps perdu. If you like the reflective style (of the two dramatic events in the book, one is described with more reflection than drama and the other he actually skips with the cheeky comment that this isn't an adventure novel) you will find it here in its finest style. To give a good feel for it would make this review overly long but here is a tiny bit from the meeting I mentioned above:
"We wandered into their orderly Newtonian universe a couple of asteroids and they captured us with their gravitational pull and made moons of us and fixed us in orbit around themselves... We felt their friendship as freezing travellers felt a dry room and a fire."
It's a fine novel. If you are deciding whether to get the audio or the text version, I recommend text. The audio isn't, in my view, well read.
Finally, my favourite passage, in case you happen to remember, is the internal debate about upward mobility (beginning of part 2 chapter 4).
Most recent customer reviews
A compulsive read
The story of two couples from youth to old age. Thoughtful and entertaining
Loved this book! It will appeal to anyone who finds human nature interesting.Published 15 months ago by jill lawson
Well written but too much Botany for my liking. At times superb as near the end and a good description of the competitive difficulties of an academic career in the arts. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer
an unexpected enjoyable book. A very quick delivery in good order. SheilaPublished on 6 July 2015 by S. J. Urquhart
To gratefully quote a fellow reviewer:
“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... Read more