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I adore Stegner. He develops characters and stories with depth better than anybody. This book is about two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang. They meet as young couples in a college in Wisconsin, and the book follows their lives and relationships.
It is by twists and turns heart-warming and tragic. He shows the two sides of character that can be giving and demanding - so much like life. In this book, he digs into how life is complex, we get in our own way, but some people gloriously overcome illnesses or setbacks what would destroy others.
This was his last book, and makes me want to read much more that he has written.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
There is a certain nakedness to Stegner's storytelling, in the sense that it doesn't shy away from uncomfortable subjects like death and troubled marriages. His characters are not always likeable, but they are very real and may even remind you of people you know. This is a book about the life of a friendship between two couples over many years. Stegner explores the joy and excitement of the young friendship, but he recognizes that friendships can die away to almost nothing for long periods of time, only to be reignited by a major event. Stegner's appeal (for me anyway) is in his ability to develop his characters as they age and deal with life's challenges -- as well as to describe their surroundings lovingly and vividly. This story is not predictable, nor does it offer any particular shocks or surprises. However, it is gut-wrenching in its honesty about human beings and the institutions of marriage and friendship.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
I bought this after hearing it recommended by all three participants in a recent edition of "A Good Read" and am very glad that I did. It's a simple enough story of two couples played out against the background of mid twentieth century America but cheering in its account of the pleasures and occasional difficulties of friendship and feels emotionally very true. Credit too to the narrator Richard Poe for adding significantly to the pleasures of the book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Crossing to Safety in three words, what would they be?
Exquisitely crafted prose
How could the performance have been better?
The reading almost spoiled this beautiful book for me. Not only was it dull and expressionless but they chose a reader whose rough gritty voice would be more suited to a Cormack McCarthy depiction of death and evil than a sensitive novel about peoples' feelings.
Any additional comments?
This novel is so beautifully written I actually copied out some passages just so I could come back and admire them.
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.
The writing 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."
Finally, my favourite passage, in case you happen to remember, is the internal debate about upward mobility (beginning of part 2 chapter 4).
1 of 2 people found this review helpful