Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner was my first book of 2016. Here are my thoughts:

Bugger. This is one of the best books I’ve read. Ever. So what happens now? Will the rest of the reading year be crap in comparison…?

It’s pretty much my perfect book. It’s got New England. And relationships. Lots of relationships. And I had a little cry.

How will I tell people about this book? …. Guess I don’t need to because it’s not like people don’t know Stegner (there was that small matter of a prize…).

Our last impression of her as she turned the corner was that smile, flung backward like a handful of flowers.”


Picnics feature in Crossing to Safety and fried chicken features at those picnics.


29 responses

  1. I feel for you. And for the next book that you read – I’m sure it will feel the pressure to make an impression on you. Based on your review, I’ve put this book on my ‘must read’ list. Hopefully I’ll get to it soon. 🙂

  2. Hi Kate…like I mentioned to you on, try Stegner’s “prize winning” Angle of Repose or Spectator Bird, perhaps later on in the year, when you’re ready to immerse herself in greatest again. In the meantime, you might want to explore Willa Cather’s fiction, an American author who must have influenced Stegner on some level…her novel My Antonia is quite good.

    Too many Americans read acclaimed fiction only in school, starting with Twain, Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, never gaining exposure to Stegner, which is a real shame.

    • Thanks David. I’ll be using all my willpower not to ‘binge’! A bit like reading Yates – you enjoy it more when you space it out! Thanks also for the Cather suggestion – haven’t read any so will check out the titles you suggested.

  3. I’m happy to hear that you liked this book so much. I just picked it up a few weeks ago at a most unlikely place (a used clothing store that I took my daughter to so she could find herself an ugly Christmas sweater to wear to school on ‘ugly Christmas sweater day’). As she was trying on her sweaters, I was picking through the messy bin full of mostly kids books and toys. But, I did find Crossing To Safety and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Not bad, eh?
    Good luck finding your next book! I’ll be curious to find out what you decided on.

    • That was a very good pick-up indeed! I always get nervous when I talk up a book and then others say they’ll read it next but in this case, I think Stegner’s reputation out-ranks anything I’ve said!

    • There’s a good chance that it will be an exceptional year given that I’m reading from the stack of books that I was busting to own but haven’t yet read (I must have wanted them for a reason, right?!).

  4. Stegner has been on my list for a while, since reading a book written about him (All the Wild That Remains, it’s good non-fic). I have Angle of Repose waiting for me…

    • I’m not sure why it took me so long to discover Stegner. I probably got more out of this book by reading it now than I would have 10 years ago, simply because a lot of the story focuses on a couple’s marriage and ‘mature’ years.

  5. Lovely! I read this book years ago, and while I know I loved it, for some reason it’s all pretty vague in my mind. Perhaps a reread is in order? On the other hand, Angle of Repose is firmly etched in my mind. It’s quite a masterpiece! I think it’s nice that you have such a great book as first read of 2016! It’s a sign that you’ll have a great reading year. 🙂 (My first read was only okay — such a letdown!)

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  11. I found this rather by accident, but I have to concur. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book (and have reviewed him on my blog too), just as many many years ago I LOVED LOVED LOVED Angle of repose.

    Funnily I was wth some friends one night this week and we were talking about what we’d read with our respective reading groups. One said, I read this book, it’s American and I can’t remember the title or the author, but it was about a young well-to-do couple and a poor couple — it didn’t take me long to burst out CROSSING TO SAFETY! She was surprised, but I was even more surprised when she said she was luke-warm. She found the first half irritating because she thought the poorer couple were too gullibly accepting of the friendship of the other couple. Really? I just bought into the lovely friendship and yet the “nuanced” (hate that jargon word) way Stegner explored it. In my reading group, everyone loved it, with one saying it was the best book she’d ever read! How different we all are eh?

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