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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375759314
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2002
Series: Modern Library Classics Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 52,087
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; and Finding Beauty in a Broken World. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Fellowship in creative nonfiction, she lives in southern Utah.
 
T. H. Watkins (1936–2000) was the first Wallace Stegner Distinguished Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University, and was the author of twenty-eight books.

Date of Birth:

February 18, 1909

Date of Death:

April 13, 1993

Place of Birth:

Lake Mills, Iowa

Place of Death:

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Education:

B.A., University of Utah, 1930; attended University of California, 1932-33; Ph. D., State University of Iowa, 1935

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

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.

Cataract sufferers must see like this when the bandages are removed after the operation: every detail as sharp as if seen for the first time, yet familiar too, known from before the time of blindness, the remembered and the seen coalescing as in a stereoscope.

It is obviously very early. The light is no more than dusk that leaks past the edges of the blinds. But I see, or remember, or both, the uncurtained windows, the bare rafters, the board walls with nothing on them except a calendar that I think was here the last time we were, eight years ago.

What used to be aggressively spartan is shabby now. Nothing has been refreshed or added since Charity and Sid turned the compound over to the children. I should feel as if I were waking up in some Ma-and-Pa motel in hard-times country, but I don’t. I have spent too many good days and nights in this cottage to be depressed by it.

There is even, as my eyes make better use of the dusk and I lift my head off the pillow to look around, something marvelously reassuring about the room, a warmth even in the gloom. Associations, probably, but also color. The unfinished pine of the walls and ceilings has mellowed, over the years, to a rich honey color, as if stained by the warmth of the people who built it into a shelter for their friends. I take it as an omen; and though I remind myself why we are here, I can’t shake the sense of loved familiarity into which I just awoke.

The air is as familiar as the room. Standard summer-cottage taint of mice, plus a faint, not-unpleasant remembrance of skunks under the house, but around and through those a keenness as of seven thousand feet. Illusion, of course. What smells like altitude is latitude. Canada is only a dozen miles north, and the ice sheet that left its tracks all over this region has not gone for good, but only withdrawn. Something in the air, even in August, says it will be back.

In fact, if you could forget mortality, and that used to be easier here than in most places, you could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras. Seen in either geological or biological terms, we don’t warrant attention as individuals. One of us doesn’t differ that much from another, each generation repeats its parents, the works we build to outlast us are not much more enduring than anthills, and much less so than coral reefs. Here everything returns upon itself, repeats and renews itself, and present can hardly be told from past.

Sally is still sleeping. I slide out of bed and go barefooted across the cold wooden floor. The calendar, as I pass it, insists that it is not the one I remember. It says, accurately, that it is 1972, and that the month is August.

The door creaks as I ease it open. Keen air, gray light, gray lake below, gray sky through the hemlocks whose tops reach well above the porch. More than once, in summers past, Sid and I cut down some of those weedlike trees to let more light into the guest cottage. All we did was destroy some individuals, we never discouraged the species. The hemlocks like this steep shore. Like other species, they hang on to their territory.

I come back in and get my clothes off a chair, the same clothes I wore from New Mexico, and dress. Sally sleeps on, used up by the long flight and the five-hour drive up from Boston. Too hard a day for her, but she wouldn’t hear of breaking the trip. Having been summoned, she would come.

For a minute I stand listening to her breathing, wondering if I dare go out and leave her. But she is deeply asleep, and should stay that way for a while. No one is going to be coming around at this hour. This early piece of the morning is mine. Tiptoeing, I go out onto the porch and stand exposed to what, for all my senses can tell me, might as well be 1938 as 1972.

No one is up in the Lang compound. No lights through the trees, no smell of kindling smoke on the air. I go out the spongy woods path past the woodshed and into the road, and there I meet the sky, faintly brightening in the east, and the morning star as steady as a lamp. Down under the hemlocks I thought it overcast, but out here I see the bowl of the sky pale and spotless.

My feet take me up the road to the gate, and through it. Just inside the gate the road forks. I ignore the Ridge House road and choose instead the narrow dirt road that climbs around the hill to the right. John Wightman, whose cottage sits at the end of it, died fifteen years ago. He will not be up to protest my walking in his ruts. It is a road I have walked hundreds of times, a lovely lost tunnel through the trees, busy this morning with birds and little shy rustling things, my favorite road anywhere.

Dew has soaked everything. I could wash my hands in the ferns, and when I pick a leaf off a maple branch I get a shower on my head and shoulders. Through the hardwoods along the foot of the hill, through the belt of cedars where the ground is swampy with springs, through the spruce and balsam of the steep pitch, I go alertly, feasting my eyes. I see coon tracks, an adult and two young, in the mud, and maturing grasses bent like croquet wickets with wet, and spotted orange Amanitas, at this season flattened or even concave and holding water, and miniature forests of club moss and ground pine and ground cedar. There are brown caves of shelter, mouse and hare country, under the wide skirts of spruce.

My feet are wet. Off in the woods I hear a Peabody bird tentatively try out a song he seems to have half forgotten. I look to the left, up the slope of the hill, to see if I can catch a glimpse of Ridge House, but see only trees.

Then I come out on the shoulder of the hill, and there is the whole sky, immense and full of light that has drowned the stars. Its edges are piled with hills. Over Stannard Mountain the air is hot gold, and as I watch, the sun surges up over the crest and stares me down.

We didn’t come back to Battell Pond this time for pleasure. We came out of affection and family solidarity, as adopted members of the clan, and because we were asked for and expected. But I can’t feel somber now, any more than I could when I awoke in the shabby old guest cottage. Quite the reverse. I wonder if I have ever felt more alive, more competent in my mind and more at ease with myself and my world, than I feel for a few minutes on the shoulder of that known hill while I watch the sun climb powerfully and confidently and see below me the unchanged village, the lake like a pool of mercury, the varying greens of hayfields and meadows and sugarbush and black spruce woods, all of it lifting and warming as the stretched shadows shorten.

There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.

When I come in I find Sally sitting up, the blind closest to the bed—the one she can reach—raised to let a streak of sun into the room. She is drinking a cup of coffee from the thermos and eating a banana from the fruit basket that Hallie left when she put us to bed last night.

“Not breakfast,” Hallie said. “Just hazari. We’ll come and get you for brunch, but we won’t come too early. You’ll be tired and off your clock. So sleep in, and we’ll come and get you about ten. After brunch we’ll go up and see Mom, and later in the afternoon she’s planned a picnic on Folsom Hill.”

“A picnic?” Sally said. “Is she well enough to go on a picnic? If she’s doing it for us, she shouldn’t.”

“That’s the way she’s arranged it,” Hallie said. “She said you’d be tired, and to let you rest, and if she says you’ll be tired, you might as well be tired. If she plans a picnic, you’d better want a picnic. No, she’ll be all right. She saves her strength for the things that matter to her. She wants it like old times.”

I let up the other two blinds and lighten the dim room. “Where’d you go?” Sally asks.

“Up the old Wightman road.”

I pour myself coffee and sit down in the wicker chair that I remember as part of the furniture of the Ark. From the bed Sally watches me. “How was it?”

“Beautiful. Quiet. Good earthy smells. It hasn’t changed.”

“I wish I could have been along.”

“I’ll take you up later in the car.”

“No, we’ll be going up to the picnic, that’s enough.” She sips her coffee, watching me over the rim of the cup. “Isn’t it typical? At death’s door, and she wants it like old times, and orders everybody to make it that way. And worries about us being tired. Ah, she’s going to leave a hole! There’s been a hole, ever since we. . . . Did you feel any absences?”

“No absences. Presences.”

“I’m glad. I can’t imagine this place without them in it. Both of them.”

Long-continued disability makes some people saintly, some self-pitying, some bitter. It has only clarified Sally and made her more herself. Even when she was young and well she could appear so calm and withdrawn from human heat and hurt that she fooled people. Sid Lang, who is by no means unperceptive, and who was surely a little in love with her at one time, used to call her Proserpine, and tease her with lines from Swinburne:

Pale, beyond porch and portal

Crowned with calm leaves, she stands

Who gathers all things mortal

With cold immortal hands. Her cold immortal hands got to be a joke among us. But long before then, back during the years when her mother was having to stash her like a parcel in any convenient place, that was when she learned quiet, the way fawns are supposed to lie unmoving, camouflaged and scentless, where their mothers leave them. Some hand, very early, brushed her forehead serene as stone; she seems as tranquil within as without. But I have known her a long time. The refining of her face by age and illness that has given a fragile elegance to her temples and cheekbones has concentrated her in her eyes.

Now her eyes give the lie to her passive, acceptant face. They are smoky and troubled. She fixes them on her hands, which she folds, unfolds, refolds, and speaks to. “I dreamed about her. I woke up dreaming about her.”

“That’s natural enough.”

“We were having some kind of fight. She wanted me to do something, and I was resisting her, and she was furious. So was I. Isn’t that a miserable way to . . .” She pauses, and then, as if I have contradicted her, bursts out, “They’re the only family we ever had. Our lives would have been totally different and a lot harder without them. We’d never have known this place, or the people who have meant the most to us. Your career would have been different—you might have been stuck in some cow college. Except for Charity, I wouldn’t be alive. I wouldn’t have wanted to be.”

“I know.”

I am sitting with my back to the window. On the bed table is a tumbler of water that I set there for Sally last night. The sun, coming in flat, knocks a prismatic oval out of the tumbler and lays it on the ceiling. I reach out my foot and kick the table. The rainbow image quivers. I lift a hand and block the beam of sun from the glass. The rainbow goes out.

Sally has been watching me, frowning. “What are you telling me? It’s all over? Accept? I get tired of accepting. I’m tired of hearing that the Lord shapes the back to the burden. Who said that?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t.”

“Maybe it’s true, but I don’t need any more shaping. I wake up here where everything reminds me of them, and I’m dreaming we’re quarreling, and I think how I let myself judge her, and how long it’s been, and I just want to weep and mourn.”

Rebuking herself, she makes a disgusted face. We look at each other uncomfortably. I say, because she seems to need some expression of distress from me, “I’ll tell you one place I felt absences. Last night. I knew Charity wouldn’t be out with a flashlight cheering our arrival, but I expected Sid. I suppose he’s needed up there. But I felt how serious it is, my heart went down, when only Hallie and Moe appeared as a proxy welcoming committee. This morning I forgot again, it felt as it used to.”

“I wish she didn’t have this idea we’ll be too tired to come up this morning. Isn’t it like her? I guess noon will have to do. Will you get me up? I need to go.”

I get her into her braces and lift her under the arms and set her on her feet and hand her her canes. With her forearms thrust into them she lurches off to the bathroom. I follow, and when she stands in front of the toilet and stoops to unlock her knees, I ease her down on the seat and leave her. After a while she knocks on the wall and I go in and lift her up. She locks her iron knees again and stands to wash at the washbowl, stained by minerals in the spring water. After a few minutes she comes out, her hair combed and the sleep washed from her face. By the bed she stoops once more to unlock her knees, and sits down suddenly on the rumpled covers. I lift her legs and straighten her out and put the pillows behind her.

“How do you feel? Okay?”

“Maybe Charity is right. I do feel tired.”

“Why don’t you sleep some more? Want the braces off?”

“Leave them on. It’s less nuisance for you if I have to call you.”

“It’s no nuisance to me.”

“Oh,” she says, “it has to be. It has to be!” Her eyes close. Then she is smiling again. “How about peeling us an orange?”

I peel us an orange and pour the last coffee from the thermos. Braced against the headboard with her legs making a thin straight line under the blankets, she shapes her face into one of its game, sassy looks as if to say, What fun!

“I like this hazari idea,” she says. “Don’t you? It’s like Italy, when we woke up early and you made tea. Or the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. Remember hazari there? Only there too it was fruit and tea, not fruit and coffee. All we need is a big ceiling fan, the kind Lang broke by throwing a pillow at it.”

I look around at the bare walls, bare studs, bare rafters, and naked green blinds. Every element of the compound, even the Big House, is much the same. Charity imposed austerity evenhandedly on herself, her family, and her guests. “Well,” I have to say, “not quite the Taj Mahal.”

“Better.”

“If you say so.”

She drops to her lap the half-clenched hand with the half orange in it—the hand that will never quite unclench because while she was in the iron lung all of us, even Charity who thought of everything, were so concerned that she go on breathing that we forgot to work on her hand. It stayed clenched there for too long. Now for a moment her controlled serenity, her acceptance and resignation, her stout and stoical front, dissolve away again. The woman who looks out at me is emotional and overtired.

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Crossing to Safety 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
bookwormiest More than 1 year ago
I love all of Stegner's work, and while I can't say objectively, that it's his best, it's certainly my favorite. I love the intimacy of it. Even though it's told from one character's perspective, you feel close to the others as well, for better and for worse. I'd probably strangle Charity if I knew her in real life, and yet . . . what an incredible friend she is. I love how the good, bad and mundane are woven into the story and yet, how the focus remains on these four friends. It's a book I like to read every few years when I need my heart warmed and my mind opened.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If only there were more books like this in the world, ones that look at ordinary people who are forced into extraordinary situations. I think it is beautifully written, as well as a touching and deeply moving story. I read this book years ago and I still think about the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stegner is so good and such an honest and thoughful writer that I was compelled to keep reading this engaging novel, although I much preferred his 'Angle of Repose,' with its more strongly developed characters and more interesting story. The characters in 'Crossing to Safety' seem to me to be much less sympathetic (with the possible exception of Sid Lang) and often terribly self- absorbed or just plain annoying -- or, as in the case of Sally Morgan, too opaque. Part I is marvelous, though, and I couldn't put it down; Part II is good but starts to become uneven; and Part III was, for me, close to interminable toward the end -- it just went on and on. Despite the interminable ending, the second half of the novel seemed to rush through a story for which I wanted more details. Also, the book read too much like thinly veiled autobiography at times. Novels narrated by characters who are writers can be tough to pull off without becoming self-indulgent and/or self-absorbed, and this book is, I think, susceptible to that problem. Nonetheless, it's worth reading for Stegner's prose and his story-telling ability, but again, it paled in comparison with the superior 'Angle of Repose.' I've not yet read his others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Probably I missed the point, if there was one, but the prose is lovely, evocative of an era or two. Don't put it down if you value your comfort time. WARNING:This is not a credible tale, but heartwarming. Great book club fodder.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A book for those who love the language, filled with sentences of surprise, beauty, poignancy. A description of relationships between husbands and wives and their friends. A truthful book, capturing the emotion of discovery of new friends, kindred spirits and the journey of life with friends and lovers. One of the best books I've read, I highly reocmmend this book to any mature reader--perhaps it takes some years to really grasp what Stegner is talking about. Maybe not. The reader will have to see for him or herself. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful wallace stegner novel regarding friendship and lfe. Vivid descriptiond made me yearn to be part of these people's lives, family and time period.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a bit slow at times but the author does an excellent job of portraying the emotions and attitudes of others. There are some excellent portions of the book and there are some areas I wish he would have expounded more on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is nothing to dispute or debate in this book because no one can walk in another's shoes. This is the story of four people told through the eyes of one of the male characters. They did things their way, made their choices, soared when things went well, and suffered when things went wrong, as we all do. The unique experience of the book is that they shared so much of it together, until by necessity and choice they had a time apart. As the book progresses we wonder what we would have done in their circumstances, or what we may yet do. Even to the end and their eventual reunion, their essential characters and personalities remain the same, and we watch them deal with the challenges that lay ahead for each of them.
Nancylouu on LibraryThing 1 days ago
I wanted to live in this book!
annoutwest on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This is such a "people" book. It could be any one of us. Such feeling, such insight. I need to read more Wallace Stegner ! His writing makes you think.
normawilliams on LibraryThing 1 days ago
One of my all-time favorites! Stegner does it all, the characters have depth and complexity, the plotting is engaging and his descriptions are exquisite. No one has ever chronicled a long marriage as well.
Stodelay on LibraryThing 1 days ago
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 purposefully directed to the book at a specific time in my life when it was most useful to me. It tells the story of a young married man beginning grad school in Madison, Wisconsin and his life-long friendship with another couple that he and his wife met there. Our first day in Madison, the EQ had tons of people arrive to help us move it, and we stayed up late talking with a couple named the Stock's. They were really really good to us the first few days as we were getting settled. A couple of nights later I mentioned to Dave that I had just read Crossing to Safety and they reminded me of that family. He confessed to having read the book a few months before when they were moving to Madison and having the same sensation. So this book, although worthy enough in its own right of five stars, has a special sentimental and deeply personal resonance for me.
carrieprice78 on LibraryThing 1 days ago
I read this book quite some time ago, though I remember it fondly. Stegner has a gift for words and a way of setting scenes that is incomparable to other writers. I enjoyed Angle of Repose and several of his essays. I don't know if it's my own disillusionment with friendships and relationships, or what, but this book dragged for me. It was positively filled with the details of every day life and it went on. And on. And on. And as someone here already said, I did not find any of the characters particularly likable. I do like Stegner--and I like his settings, and I like his writing style, so that alone made this worth reading for me.
Stormrose on LibraryThing 1 days ago
8/20 (note: this is me keeping track of how many books I've read, not a grade of any kind) The two days I spent with Wallace Stegner in Crossing to safety were breath of fresh air, a glass of cool water after a long thirst; a magical, enviable reading experience where I didn't want it to end and paradoxically couldn't put it down. I had no expectations of this book. None whatsoever. It was given to me as a Christmas present, and I'd never heard of it, or of Stegner, so I approached it neutrally, and it proceeded to blow me away. Stegner describes life in such a way as to make the everyday momentous, in a way that reminds us of the blessings around us, and the complexities in ourselves and our relationships. His writing is glorious, his story is heartbreakingly true. There are few authors with the courage or the intelligence to deal with "everyday" things like long, healthy marriages, "normal" lives and close friendships, but Stegner dares - and thus shows us what we've been missing.The book takes place partly in Madison, Wisconsin, my hometown, and a place that resides inside my heart; just like this book touches something that resides in all of our hearts.
msf59 on LibraryThing 1 days ago
Of course there are a multitude of novels out there that explore the complexities of friendship but I don't feel many probe as deep and perceptibly as Stegner does here. This story follows two couples over several decades, as they deal with life's highs and unexpected lows. The author's beatific prose is a joy to behold and he has created a wonderful character in Charity Lang, who along with the indomitable Olive Kitteridge, are two of my favorite literary creations this year! Here is a lovely description of Charity:"Our last impression of her as she turned the corner was that smile, flung backward like a handful of flowers."
snash on LibraryThing 1 days ago
The book is a story about friendship and in the process of telling that story it also presented different approaches to life and death. The characters were entirely believable with their numerous faults and were people I recognized from my own experience. It's one that I will carry with me in my thoughts for a long time.
CarolynSchroeder on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This novel was recommended to as a few peoples' "best of all times" in contemporary fiction, so I gave it a try. I did like it, quite a bit. It is a rather simple story of the friendship between two couples (protagonist Larry and Sally; and their friends Sid and Charity), from the '30s through to 1972. But I felt, almost as importantly, it had a lot to say on the institution of marriage and the foundations of family. I had sort of a difficult time really "liking" Larry and Charity, so at times, this book became a struggle, to care about what happened to them. However, the writing, language, observations are all so good, that was easy to get swept back up in all when I did pick it back up. There is a quiet beauty here, a lot about loving imperfect people and accepting them as they are. The end chapters try to tackle way too much material about life and death, with huge jumps in time/space, but having just lost a dear friend to cancer, much of it felt incredibly real. This book does resonate with you a bit, but overall I found it "good" not "great."
co_coyote on LibraryThing 1 days ago
The best book about friendships I have ever read. This is one of those books I'd take to a desert island. I don't think I would ever get tired of reading it.
LisaMM on LibraryThing 1 days ago
Crossing to Safety, by the late Wallace Stegner, is an eloquent novel that explores the complicated nature of long term friendship. The Langs (Sid and Charity) and the Morgans (Larry and Sally) meet and embark on a 40 year friendship that is sustained through births, illnesses, job loss, cross country moves, career success, envy, generosity, thwarted ambition, and failure.The story is told from the perspective of Larry Morgan, who, of the two men, is the more accomplished author, but the less financially stable. The couples meet when Larry and Sid, working together at a Wisconsin university, attend a party with their wives. The wives, both pregnant and due around the same time, are immediately taken with each other. The husbands also have much in common and have great respect for each other. The relationship of the foursome deepens over time and becomes more like family than merely friendly.Crossing to Safety is honest and human. It unfolds slowly, meandering through reminiscences and meditations on what it means to be a writer, the power of friendship, the depths of love and marriage, and the realization that even your closest friends and loved ones are ultimately unknowable. No one, not even a very close friend, can ever know what truly goes on inside another person¿s marriage.The title of the book comes from the following quote by Robert Frost:¿I could give all to Time except-exceptWhat I myself have held. But why declareThe things forbidden that while the Customs sleptI have crossed to Safety with? For I am ThereAnd what I would not part with I have kept.¿I¿m not a poet and I¿m not sure how to analyze that, but I think crossing to safety as stated here refers to what remains of a relationship after it is over, after death. Wallace Stegner¿s Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1972. Crossing to Safety was Stegner¿s final novel before his death in 1993.I enjoyed Crossing to Safety. It is a quiet novel with no great dramatic action, no affairs between the couples or big plot twists. It is simply an extremely well-written, mature and beautiful tribute to enduring friendship.
pdebolt on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This book is a gift to everyone who is a friend or has a friend - basically everyone. It is the beautifully-written story of two couples who remain close despite changes in physical location and life-altering situations. Wallace Stegner writes of each couple's unfailing courtesy toward and compassion for the other in truly memorabe prose. The reader is able clearly to see each person individually, as part of a couple and as a member of their quartet. I truly hated to see this book end and I already look forward to reading it again and again.
stacyz on LibraryThing 1 days ago
beautiful writing. a very intimate look at marriage and friendship. character tops plot development. story a bit slow at the end, but overall, the writing style makes it worth it.
Joycepa on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This is a quiet, utterly beautiful book. It is the story of the friendship between two couples--Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang--as well as the friendships between the individuals, narrated by one of them, Larry. It is also the story of two marriages and the way they played out over many years. It is a very American book, and could only have been written by an American.There are no surprises to this book. There is no betrayal, no modern angst or hedonism. But there is an overwhelming sensitivity, an insight into marriage and how it operates, and a powerful portrayal of friendship. It could only be written by a master craftsman, and it was.There¿s nothing further to say. Highly recommended.
sainsborough on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I have never set foot in the USA and sometimes struggle to relate to the culture. However, this book, although distinctly American, somehow resonated. With enviable skill, Wallace Stegner deals with the really meaningful experiences most of us will have - family, new beginnings, upheavals, bad luck, good luck, illness, competition, conflict etc. The sense of purpose and of a whole new world opening up which comes with university life is also captured in this book, together with the atmosphere and conviviality of parties that typically celebrate that community. I could relate to that, even though I went to university at the bottom of Africa. To us though, Cambridge is in England and Hanover is in Germany! However, I have a friend in Madison, Wisconsin, which helps to provide a link.
Luli81 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
A reflective novel, set in the 30's, when the American Dream was still possible.This is an ordinary story, four people, two couples, an everlasting friendship. The story is told by Larry, one of the main characters, and, as he unfolds the life of his two friends, Sid and Charity, he tells indirectly about his own life with his crippled wife, Sally.The story is set in the present time, when Larry and Sally are visiting Sid and Charity, who is practically on her deathbed, dying of cancer.Through Larry's memories we can see some flashes of apparently unimportant events which finally marked them for the rest of their lives. We learn of their youthful dreams and longings and come to terms with bitter reality along with them. Unavoidable disgraces and fateful circumstances finally taking their expectations away. It's also amazing the way you get to know each character. Larry, a kind of a loner, smart, sensitive. Sally, sweet, tolerant and respectful. Sid, vigorous but without confidence. Charity, implacable, strong willed, the iron woman who rules them all, but always with the best intentions.This is a sad, melancholic story, usually unfolded with longing and despair. You come to witness the magic of life, the invincible power of youth. The inevitable fatality of time, loss and disappointment.An extraordinary story of ordinary people. You might not find too much going on, only life itself.Recommendable.
tanisha364 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I found the storyline dull and frustrating. The only thing that got me through was the poetic quality of Wallace Stegner's writing. He really is beautiful with words...but I found some his metaphors a bit too long. It often took me out of the story. I knew and felt like I was reading a book. I definitely didn't get lost in the story.