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Crossing to Safety

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  19,797 ratings  ·  2,919 reviews
A novel of the friendships and woes of two couples, which tells the story of their lives in lyrical, evocative prose by one of the finest American writers of the late 20th century.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 30th 2006 by Penguin (first published 1987)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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There are some books that seem to have tiny leaks in their spines and covers and pages and release almost unnoticeable misty, smoky particles of their story – well not so much their story but the mood that is created by the story – out into the “real” world. And when reading these books you find – or at least I find (I should shift my point of reference to me not you) that I am seeing things in my daily routine through a sort of cloud that at first I don’t recognize but then suddenly it dawns on ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Mar 31, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sorry, great writing but not for me.
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Kelly
This defines the term character-driven novel, multi-faceted and deeply defined Steigner hones each with a surgeon’s precision. A story of two couples, the joys and challenges of their marriages and enduring friendship and a life cocooned within Ivy League’s walls.
• Larry Morgan (narrator): workaholic, driven, rags-to-riches college professor & author extraordinaire “I was a cork held under, my impulse was always up”
• Sally Morgan: ah Saint Sally…“I had to live, out of pure gratitude”
• Sid
As I am waiting for Angle of Repose to arrive for me to read, I started going back through CTS and skimming through it. These years later the passage that has remained closest to me is this:
You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is pured on him. And right
How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?

Stegner did it.

We follow two married couples from their bright eyed 1930s youth to their retirement years. There's no razzle dazzle, no shocks or mysteries, no scandals or horrors . Their hurts are subtle and familiar.

The writing is solid and reflective and downright beautiful.

I found the story to be mostly about acceptance. Loving people even when you don't like them. Finding satisfaction in life even when your plans f
This could be the anti-Gatsby. As the description says, there's no illicit sex, no conspicuous waste, no death wishes, and no (overt) violence. Things that other writers would seize upon and conflate into enormous crises - poverty, disappointment, illness, violent accidents - come across as ordinary and unremarkable, a part of the regular tapestry of a person's life.

But this portrait of a decades-long friendship between two married couples is so well written and so emotionally resonant that it s
For me this book is difficult to review. On the one hand I needed two weeks for 280 pages which is not a good sign, on the other hand I enjoyed reading it a lot. In the end I did not know how to rate it. Instead of deciding spontaneously I listened two the both voices in my head (yes, I hear voices), the Good Guy and the Bad Guy. I will give you just a short summary of their dialogue.
GG: "You must be kidding. Three stars for this excellently written masterpiece?"
BG: "I don't object that part, it
Will Byrnes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Life is a process of gradually narrowing choices. You learn this early in life, often when playing sports. You know you’re not going to be a Major League Baseball player because you can’t hit a curveball, or a fast fastball, or, in fact, the ball off a tee. Later, in school, you discover that your eyesight – and fear of heights – is going to keep you from being a jet pilot; and that your biology score is going to keep you from being a doctor, or passing biology; and that you aren’t ever going to ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Steel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Married people or those about to wed; current or future graduate students
So I read this book in Boise just before moving to Madison to start grad school. I had purchased it at Pioneer books in Provo (I think that's what the place with the millions of books and the tall strange owner who wears sandals with socks) a few years ago and then had never read it. I was at my parents' house one day when I decided to go out to their garage and try to find a couple of interesting books to read. I just felt like I should read this book, and I did. I felt like I had been purposef ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
SWOON!! My first Wallace Stegner. I'm in love! Can I have a literary crush on someone who's been dead for fifteen years? Is that comme il faut?

It's hard to find anything to say about this book that wouldn't just muddy up the waters. Just giving a plot summary would make it sound like a plain old ordinary book. Stegner's writing is just......WOW!! The book is about friendship and generosity and youthful extravagant hopes and finding ways to be happy when fate betrays us and our dreams don't come
This is a wonderful novel. It is the story of two couples set from the years of the depression until the 1970s; it drifts along at a sedate pace with little violence, little action, but a great deal of human warmth.
It is an analysis of friendship and marraige from the beginnings at a college where Sid and Larry are employed. Their wives Charity and Sally meet and all four become friends. The friendship lasts a lifetime and the novel takes us right to old age and death. Stegner writes very evoca
Oct 17, 2009 Stacey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone.
I've been thinking the last few days (that's what Stegner does best--makes one think), what IS it about this novel that's so incredibly profound? Why does this fine piece of literature affect me on so many levels? It's curious because there's not necessarily a rich plot, hardly any action to speak of, or even a real stand-outish climax per se... just a beautifully written story with relatable characters living life and facing its challenges as they come. I believe Stegner's real gift is the way ...more
This was definitely one of the better books I have read this year. A slower paced book that I still felt deserved every one of the 5 stars I gave it. This story involved a very intimate and intense look at 4 friends and two marriages over the span of their adult lives. The writing was so descriptive and real...I will go as far as to say it was beautiful. The book is filled with many wonderful quotes. I became so involved in the course of the lives of Larry, Sally, Sid and Charity, that I felt as ...more
There are some books were you can tell within the first few paragraphs that you are entering a safe zone in which something magical is about to happen. Such is the sensitivity and emotion of Stegner's prose wrote with such wonderful eye to language that Crossing To Safety is such a story.

Crossing To Safety is the story of a friendship between two couples, and their journeys through all that life can throw at them. Narrated by the perspective of the modern day and old aged Larry Morgan, now a suc
Mary Mason
This book was my introduction to Wallace Stegner. Since then, I have read all of his novels with the expception of his first, Lucky Star (I think). I am forever grateful to the women of the Reading Group I was then a member of for bringing me to Mr. Stegner, one of the finest writers I've read.

A wonderful story of friendship and the power and suprises it can bring you. Stegner's amazing ability to present things in new ways never disappoints me. I was quite surprised by the twists at the end tha
Joachim Stoop
Deserves 5 stars, no rather 6...
Too good to be true. Actually as perfect as a novel can be: think Stoner but more poetic, McEwan and Yates yet more epic, Franzen with even more depth. But so fresh, christal clear and beautiful. And what a sparkling atmosphere! It's the best book (under 400 pages) I've ever read. Do you know the feeling that you read the first sentence of a book and you just hope the writer will keep that quality? That after the opening scene you almost prey that he or she will h
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2007 amy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends of Hutch
This is another book where nothing out of the ordinary happens, that doesn't particularly go anywhere, isn't thrilling or depressing or elicit any overpowering emotion...but it's ok. There are little ups and little downs and Stegner's writing is all very calm and calming, and my main motivation for finishing the book was making sure that everyone got through relatively unscathed. Which they do, sort of, since even what tragedy there is exists on a smaller, quieter scale than one might expect fro ...more
The stars I gave this book are for the writing quality. It is very good writing. The author was very good at metaphor, and a carrying the metaphor throughout the book. I also like his blunt analogies.

The author paints a picture by jumping from present to past, to not-so-far in the past, back to the further-back past, back to the present, etc. It's kind of interesting. I'm not sure I like it, but I guess I don't hate it either.

The story itself, was kind of boring. I'm not even sure what the book
I'm not really sure how I feel about this book. I liked it less than I expected to. At first it seemed to be a simple, fond memoir of a friendship between two couples. In the middle of the book, however, Stegner reveals a 'dark secret' -- the controlling nature of the female protagonist, Charity. Her fun-loving nature masks her deep need to orchestrate every aspect of her life with her husband, and indeed her friends. She comes across as a shrill, madcap Katharine Hepburn -- even in the deathbed ...more
Teresa Lukey
I had to hold off on writing this review due the simple fact that it did have an emotional impact on me. I thought I may only give it 4 stars, due the casual, meandering way the story is told. But further consideration led me to understand the way in which the way the story was told is elemental in helping to understand a beautiful friendship and the inherent value of all the positives and negatives that come with that friendship.

After finishing this book I keep going back to Larry's mi
B the BookAddict
In her Introduction, Jane Smiley comments that in his late novels Stegner "dispensed with both Hemingway's fantasy of solitary masculinity and Fitzgerald's fantasy of romance." For me, Stegner is exactly the type of author I read for; I live in hope that every novel I will be in the calibre of Crossing To Safety. A well deserved 5★.

Footnote: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner One of my all-time favorite book covers!
Diane Barnes
"Survival, it is called. Often it is accidental, sometimes it is engineered by creatures or forces that we have no conception of, always it is temporary."
This book about friendship and marriage is one of the wisest, quietest, most profound books ever. I first read it when it was published in 1987, when I was 34 years old, not long married and with an infant daughter. It was wonderful to read then, but how much more it resonates with me now, with a marriage that is still good, an adult daughter t
Jan 07, 2013 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Judy by: Jeanette
This is the story of two couples, the Morgans and Langs, whose lives interconnect throughout their existence. Stegner's excellent characterization, warmth of the story and its easy flow drew a picture of American living that felt real enough to be the families next door.

I loved this book! Reading it made me that much more sure that I want to read every Stegner I can get my hands on.
Crossing to Safety is a beautiful novel. It has an unassuming, quiet appeal that resides in its verbal felicity and its thoughtful definition of the worthy life.

It celebrates the best of friendship marked by an expansive magnanimity under which folks unrelated to each other may dwell secure. The Langs and Morgans, two young couples, met at the beginning of their academic careers in Madison, Wisconsin, during the Great Depression and became firm friends. The Langs were well connected and lived i
never related to any of the characters. Characters seemed so ivory tower (summers at the lake, nannies for the children), but the part I disliked most was that none of the characters ever seemed to mature much or gain much insight to themselves. It strechted most of a life time, but no one seemed to grow up. Writing was great, but I am not an english major. there were a few pieces in there that were good, but they were about issues facing writers and academics, none of which spoke to me. the pie ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Conservationist, scholar, Pulitzer Prize winner, and humanist Wallace Stegner came from poor, abject beginnings in Iowa. His father was abusive to young Wallace, his mother helpless to stop it. Through determination and perseverance, Stegner built a successful scholarly life out of the wreckage of his childhood. It's no small wonder that his writing is generous, compassionate, and reflective. This is my first journey into Stegner's oeuvre, a man of letters who has been respected by scholars and ...more
I really loved this book. I gave it five stars in spite of its failing to meet one of my three criteria for a five-star rating: that it be a page-turner, a book I can hardly stand to put down. This book is anything but a page turner--you won't find murder, violence, illicit love affairs, or any number of other elements that make for a cliffhanger. The story unfolds slowly, sweetly, and yet it is a story I was always anxious to come back to. Stegner manages to turn the very ordinary story of two ...more
Sherry (sethurner)
"Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes open. I am awake."

Crossing to Safety probably isn't a novel for young people, unless they are curious to look into the minds and souls of people who have lived longer. This book is a meditation on time, place, and the nature of love and friendship. The characters, two sets of friends have a rich and complicated relationship, and their personalities call up ma
Stegner has many beautiful little moments of writing in this book that made me pause for a few minutes to fully absorb his rich and subtle storytelling.

His characters seemed incredibly real and complex and their interactions rang really true; at times I was as uncomfortable reading some of the loaded exchanges as I might be in my own life when dealing with awkward or challenging relationships.
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Wallace Earle Stegner (February 18, 1909—April 13, 1993) was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers."
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“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.” 137 likes
“There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.” 39 likes
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