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Crossing to Safety

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  26,415 Ratings  ·  3,654 Reviews
Introduction by Terry Tempest Williams
Afterword by T. H. Watkins

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, a
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1987)
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Stuart Powell I read "safety" as a place of acceptance and love. The four main characters all find this place in different ways during the book. The final example…moreI read "safety" as a place of acceptance and love. The four main characters all find this place in different ways during the book. The final example is for Sid, despite all that he has suffered from his relationship with Charity - especially in her final hours - is able to accept her as she is and love her anyway. This is a place of "safety" for him, but one that he has to "cross" into, through much soul-searching.(less)
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Jan 02, 2014 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing
Does it seem ironic that a book I’ve awarded a full pentad of stars is also the cause of great frustration? Not when I tell you that my problem has nothing to do with the novel itself, but rather in conjuring the right words to do it justice. You see every account I run through my head makes it sound more boring than it is. I guess I should just start by telling you it’s about two couples who met during the Great Depression. Sid and Charity Lang live well on inherited wealth. Larry and Sally ...more
Dec 04, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2013
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
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Mar 31, 2014 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it liked it
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
Dec 26, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 03, 2014 Georg rated it liked it
Shelves: english
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
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-novels
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
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
Shelagh Rice
This author was recommended to me recently by a friend on Goodreads. I had not heard of him before. This book was his last book and am not sure why I started with this one, only to say I was intrigued by the blurb. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is classic American literature at its very best. The story is about the friendship between two married couples over 4 decades. This is a quiet book, no thrills or spills, no murders or mysteries to solve. It is a powerful book, with in depth ...more
Will Byrnes
Aug 18, 2014 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara Steger
Feb 11, 2016 Sara Steger rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Sara by: Elyse
When I closed this book and laid it aside, my hand was shaking. The shaking was coming from deep inside my body and soul, where Wallace Stegner had infused me with words and images that caused me to tremble with recognition.

Stegner understands relationships and he also understands the part of the individual that is never given away to anyone else. He paints that so clearly that you see yourself in it as if it were a mirror. If you cannot see elements of your own marriage in this portrait, you c
Jul 11, 2015 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
This book is loaded with things to love. The friendship of four people, two young couples early in marriage and then much later, the husbands blossoming writers and college instructors, the wives giving moral support and advise. Sometimes unwanted and unwarranted advice -- that Charity was something else for those times, but what a wonderful character! I slowly began to realize that the things I didn't like about her were those traits similar to my own that I try to be watchful of.

Anyway, I als
Oct 17, 2009 Stacey rated it it was amazing
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
Jean-Paul Werner Walshaw-Sauter


This reflective book captivated me from the moment I read its opening lines:

"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: Larry and Sally Morgan move to Madison, Wisconsin during the Great Depression as their life as a couple commences. Larry is about to start a teaching job and Sally is pregnant with their first child. They are both orphaned, have no siblings and hav
Dale Harcombe
Feb 20, 2015 Dale Harcombe rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully written insight into marriage and friendship. There are two couples, Sally and Larry and Charity and Sid, the couple they meet and become friends with. The characters are all portrayed realistically, both the good and the bad. I liked the way at the beginning Sally and Larry see Charity and Sid as almost perfect. Over time their imperfections are revealed but that does nothing to deter the friendship that has sprung up between them.
Charity is manipulative and bossy. At tim
Sep 20, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-novels
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
Mar 09, 2015 Steel rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Joachim Stoop
Apr 16, 2014 Joachim Stoop rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Feb 08, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
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
Jan 04, 2014 Shelli rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Mason
Apr 05, 2008 Mary Mason rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2008 Joyce rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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
Apr 19, 2008 Yulia rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 13, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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!
Feb 25, 2007 amy rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 02, 2016 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american, amour
Achingly beautiful and deeply moving this is the closest any book has come to bring a tear to my eye, the friendship between the Langs and the Morgans was so strong and heart warming it has profoundly affected the way I look at life and that of my loved ones. Impeccably written by Stegner who I believe was in his late seventies at the time, this really is a timeless novel that would break even those who carry a heart of stone.
switterbug (Betsey)
Mar 14, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 18, 2013 Laysee rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2014 Dianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, lovely writing in this quiet and contemplative study of friendship and the twists and turns that life takes. A sheer joy to read, I absolutely loved it.
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One more question...the title? 9 183 May 08, 2016 02:24PM  
Christian fiction? 5 25 May 07, 2016 04:44PM  
Love - what it really means 3 53 Jun 02, 2015 07:40AM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Two young couples, one rich, one struggling. Set in 1960s? [s] 5 39 Oct 14, 2014 09:09PM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. two couples become life long friends [s] 6 26 Jul 03, 2014 04:43PM  
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Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. Some call him "The Dean of Western Writers." He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the U.S. National Book Award in 1977.
More about Wallace Stegner...

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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.” 164 likes
“He used to tell me, 'Do what you like to do. It'll probably turn out to be what you do best.” 51 likes
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