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Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety

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Bowling along nicely with this now and have no idea why I was so ambivalent about it thus far.  Will ponder this as I continue the read.

I wondered about that, Luna.  Let's see what you think when you get to the end.

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Bowling along nicely with this now and have no idea why I was so ambivalent about it thus far.  Will ponder this as I continue the read.

 Great that your bowling along now Luna. Maybe you were just too occupied with other things to let yourself fall into it. Looking forward to your ruminations.

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Have now finished this.  It's taken all but 2 days short of two months for me to get there which is astonishing considering that I have read 350 pages overnight (this is 327 pages).  Six weeks worth of eye-sight problems, as pointed out, didn't help but there were whole weeks before that where I just wasn't moved to pick up this book.  I'm still not sure why because I actually liked the book.

 

The prose was well written and the characters well drawn and I was thoroughly involved by the end of the book just not before then.

 

I'm glad that I persisted and finished reading but must confess that I didn't find the book as charming or moving as everyone else seems to.

 

Thanks for the recommendation though as it's something I'd never heard of before so wouldn't have had the experience otherwise.

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Have finished Crossing to Safety - wow, what a book.  As I said earlier I found myself disliking Charity for her controlling ways but I think it's her character and everyone's reaction to it that drives the story.  I did find the back and forth in time a bit disconcerting but mostly it all tied together nicely although not necessarily the way I would want it to go.  Won't say too much more as those who are still in the process of reading the book will want to experience the book for themselves.  I have other comments about it, mostly I loved his writing although floundered a bit with the Italian scene - that for another time.

I read Crossing to Safety years ago and when I was done I sat and thought about my father. We'd gone thirty years without talking. I sat down and wrote him a long letter, which I had to rewrite a dozen times, but the critical part was, "Dad, your job was to give me the tools to live and apparently you did. But, when you gave me the tools you gave me a set of blueprints and demanded that I live your plan. That doesn't work."

 

My father phoned me. He was crying. He was afraid I hated him but he agree with what I'd said. For me, this book was very important.

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Hello patrickt and welcome.  Glad that Crossing to Safety was the means of a wonderful reconciliation in your life.  Hope you stay around and join in on the threads that interest you.

Edited by momac

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Finished this about two weeks ago but for one reason or another simply hadn't got around to posting on it.  I enjoyed it inasmuch as I do tend to enjoy stories where the reader is able to follow a set of characters over an extended period of time, their trials, tribulations, happiness, sorrow etc. and in that respect this book did it for me.

 

I found Stegner's style of writing in this book very descriptive, especially, it seemed, when conveying an atmosphere of the physical surroundings and landscapes in which the story was set.  This was my first experience of Stegner and I hope it will not be the last; I believe Angle Of Repose is thought to be well worth reading.

 

For all that I tried to like Charity, for it was she who essentially dominated the four central characters, I ultimately struggled to do so.  While there is no doubting that she had a lot of love and kindness in her, and was always the "get-up-and-go" type, it was always on her terms and she had to be in control of every situation. Together with Sid, they were the life and soul and centre of just about every life they touched, although it was Sid's money rather than Charity's that enabled them to be so, but I felt that Sid was a prisoner to his wife's ambitions.

 

The other couple, Larry and Sally, whilst I would not go quite as far as to call them insipid, I did feel as though they were a more ordinary, and grounded, couple who were simply happy to be caught in Charity and Sid's orbit and to be swept along wherever it took them.  When the story was in the present, and Larry and Sally had returned to the compound basically for the occasion of Charity's death, I found myself wondering, given the strength of the relationships in those earlier years, why it seemed that many years had passed without the four of them having had much to do with each other.

I also concluded that I thought Charity's final actions were cruel, even if she thought otherwise.  I could not decide whether she was rejecting Sid or simply having to be in control to the end.  Whatever her reasons, personally I thought them unkind, and I was partially expecting Sid to be found hanging from a tree or lying with a bullet-hole in his head when Larry went looking for him at the end.

 

I did enjoy the book, and I am glad I followed recommendations to read it.  Now I'm going to look at previous posts to see if anything I felt about the book corresponds with other members' views.

 

I have just read Grasshopper's spoiler from her June 2014 post, and I agree whole-heartedly.  I put myself in that position and know exactly how I would feel if that was CP doing it to me.

Edited by Ragamuffin Gunner

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Stegner, Wallace.  Crossing to Safety

 

Wallec Stegner tells the story of four friends, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang, who meet as new faculty members at Madison, Wisconsin.  Sid and Charity are rich, while Larry and Sally are poor, but this disparity is soon forgotten as the Langs throw a  party for all new members, at which performances are obligatory.  The Langs proceed to adopt their poor relations, finding them intellectually stimulating and congenial.  After a year, however, Larry is terminated despite his having published articles and a book, while, owing to the financial squeeze of the Depression,  Sid is retained for just one more year.  Early on it is established that Charity Lang is the leader of social and cultural events, insisting on the Morgans occupying their house over the summer vacation.  Charity has plans, for everyone including the Morgans their ‘adoptive’ family and their new-born daughter, Lang Morgan.

 

Mostly the tone is reminiscential, as Larry recalls the glorious summer in Arcady before he became an editor for Uncle Richard in Albuquerque, a post in which he more than doubled his university salary. He has even managed to repay the Langs after several years, during which time both women have physically deteriorated - Charity, now a mulltiple mum, being stricken with cancer, Sally crippled with polio.  But the parties continue, now with swarms of kids attached, as does Charity’s determination to divert her husband’s efforts from writing poetry into recognised scholarship.

 

I was thankful to find no happy ending, no tacked on or hopeful last episode - except for the symbolic survival of a presumed drowned mouse.  As Larry says, ‘You can’t be close to the mortality of friends without being brought to think of your own.’  I felt that I had understood Larry and rooted for him in his battles with the redoubtable Charity, a finely drawn character whom I’d go a mile to avoid. 

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