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Crossing to Safety

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  29,402 Ratings  ·  4,035 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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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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Steve
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Mor ...more
Melody
Sep 30, 2007 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
Mary
Nov 17, 2012 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
...more
Cheryl
The warm shudders I experienced as I sank into each night with this book on my lap, the stunning imagery of diminished time against an unchanging landscape, and the quiet story of academic couples faced with tragedy, makes me certain that Stegner will be an author I grow with this year. This year I made a pact with myself to become more familiar with the works of authors I love. Now here I am, back to visit Stegner, "The Dean of Western Writers," after having admired the program he started at St ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  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
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
My review of Stegner's Angle of Repose in which I was fairly critical of the book, several readers objected and insisted I read Crossing to Safety. Well, I listened to the audiobook during a long 7h drive today and found it more interesting than Angle and yet not in my upper echelon of American 20th C novels. Crossing reminded me more of Richard Russo's style that it did of Updike (both of whose writing I prefer). I liked the descriptions very much (as I did in Angle), but had a hard time really ...more
Amy
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Georg
Jan 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Matt
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lyn Elliott
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Since I finished reading this book about three weeks ago, I've thought a lot about what its central subject actually is. The friendship between two married couples, with different expectations and backgrounds, over decades is certainly there. But in a sense it feels as though that is the surface, and that there are deeper, less obviously expressed themes throughout the book.

One, it seems to me, is a slow examination of what makes up charity. The dominant female character is Charity, wife of easy
...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
...more
Clif Hostetler
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This novel is a sensitive reflection on the intermingled lives of two couples. As captured by Stegner's skillful writing it becomes an emotional meditation on four lives well lived. The characters in this book are of a generation that began their married and professional lives in the late 1930s, thus they preceded my own "boomer" generation. But Stegner's reflection on their early dreams and subsequent lives emotes similar feelings within myself when I recall my early hopes and compare them with ...more
Will Byrnes
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 anal ...more
Albert
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I had the pleasure to spend some time with Larry and Sally and Sid and Charity. Two couples who meet early in their adult lives, shortly after marriage, as so much about their futures is yet to be determined. A bond forms, they feel lucky to have found each other. But no individual is perfect, and few if any marriages are perfect. Just as each of the foursome comes to learn about their self and their partner, so the couples will come to learn about each other. Stegner does another excellent job ...more
Steven  Godin
Oct 10, 2015 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.
Sara
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Michelle
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Paul
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Stacey
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
☮Karen
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Joachim Stoop
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Joyce
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Dale Harcombe
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Steel
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Tsung
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held”
Robert Frost

Turn to the first page and there lies the first challenge in this book. What is that I have held that time cannot take away? My memories? My friendships? My relationships? My worthiness?

Rather than a continuous narrative, the novel is more like a memoir, an eclectic collection of memories. It is also allegedly semi-autobiographical. So how much of it is authentic? The characters seem pretty real and probably based on re
...more
Laysee
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Howard
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
Wallace Stegner is one of my favorite writers; I am a fan of both his fiction and nonfiction.

I have read "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" three times and it, along with his Pulitzer Prize winning "Angle of Repose," rank among my ten all-time favorite novels. But, sadly, I never did connect with his main characters in this one, at least not two of them.

I especially had difficulty with the character named Charity. How ironic. She is a control freak who to the very end manipulates and controls the
...more
Shelli
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
One more question...the title? 9 208 May 08, 2016 02:24PM  
Christian fiction? 5 33 May 07, 2016 04:44PM  
Love - what it really means 3 56 Jun 02, 2015 07:40AM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. Two young couples, one rich, one struggling. Set in 1960s? [s] 5 40 Oct 14, 2014 09:09PM  
What's The Name o...: SOLVED. two couples become life long friends [s] 6 28 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...
“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.” 173 likes
“He used to tell me, 'Do what you like to do. It'll probably turn out to be what you do best.” 53 likes
More quotes…