Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crossing to Safety

Crossing to Safety Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Book 3 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
Book 2 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge
Book 1 of 12 for the Historical Fiction Challenge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had some preconceptions about what this book might like since I read The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Stegner last year. Don't get me wrong, I liked TBRCM a lot. But I wasn't sure if I was ready for another book of more of the same. Crossing to Safety is so completely different and yet has all the same beautiful prose and stunning observations about life that TBRCM has. It's not a quick read with a gripping plot. But, it is a beautiful book.

The book is about the lives of two married couples who became friends during the Depression. The husbands are both English professors at the University of Wisconsin. Sid Lang is wealthy and privileged, and Larry Morgan is poor but happy to be doing something he loves. Their wives, Charity and Sally, meet and instantly become best friends, despite their differences. Their friendship lasts for forty years until Charity contracts cancer. The book is told from Larry's perspective in a series of flashbacks detailing the joys and sorrows in their lives that ultimately dictate who they become. This is a book with reflections about real life that ring so true and contains passages that should be savored.

Some favorites:
Talent lies around in us like kindling waiting for a match, but some people, just as gifted as others, are less lucky. Fate never drops a match on them. The times are wrong, or their health is poor, or their energy low, or their obligations too many. Something.
 Nothing is so safe as habit, even when habit is faked.
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.
There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic.
This book is my in-person book club's choice for this month. I think there will be a lot to talk about--the choices of the characters, their personalities, their strengths, their weaknesses. This is a book I'm glad I own and will look forward to reading again. Highly recommended.

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Have you read this one?

Source: Gift


bermudaonion said...

This does sound like a book that would make you reflect. I think my mother would really like it too.

Kim said...

This sounds like a treasure. I've never heard of it before so thanks so much for the great review.

Corinne said...

I have this in my "waiting to be read drawer" - I'm glad it's as good as Big Rock, I'm looking forward to reading it