Blasts from the Past: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (1987)

Cover imageThis is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy in as many hands as I could.

Crossing to Safety is one of those novels I came across in my early blogging days when I was getting to know which bloggers I’d like to follow. I’ve a feeling that it was Jacqui at JacquiWine’s Journal who put me on to it. Whoever it was, I’m very grateful. Written when he was seventy-eight, Wallace Stegner’s semi-autobiographical novel is about two couples and their lifelong friendship.

The Langs meet the Morgans during the Great Depression. Charity and Sally are both pregnant while Sid and Larry are colleagues in the local university’s English department. The story of this friendship, which will see the couples through happiness and tragedy, triumphs and tribulations, is told through Larry’s recollections. All this may sound a little dull but for me, it’s a quiet masterpiece, notable for the elegance of Stegner’s expression and its evocation of a friendship which manages to weather the strains put upon it by changing circumstances.

I remember trying to track down as many of Stegner’s novels as I could after reading Crossing to Safety but few seemed to be available here in the UK apart from Angle of Repose. Much to my delight, I stumbled upon an American import of Recapitulation when on holiday in Madrid and snapped it up immediately.

What about you – any blasts from your pasts you’d like to recommend?

23 thoughts on “Blasts from the Past: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (1987)

  1. Rebecca Foster

    I’ve heard this widely praised from many quarters and snapped up a secondhand copy some years ago … but still haven’t read it. (Story of my life!) I also have Angle of Repose. One of these days I must try Stegner.

    Reply
  2. Kate W

    I loved this book (I only read it a few years ago). Like you, I wanted more Stegner but nothing readily available in Australia. I ordered online a copy of Angle of Repose – it’s on my shelf but the font is tiny, the paper it’s printed on is very thin, and t’s over 600 pages… it will be a more challenging reading experience when I tackle it!

    Reply
  3. JacquiWine

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Susan – a quiet masterpiece is spot on. As you say, it’s a shame more of his work isn’t readily available in the UK as I’m sure it would do well with the right promotional support. Well done for bagging a copy of Recapitulation – I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      Thank you so much for introducing me to his work, Jacqui. I’m sure you’ve already read William Maxwell but if not, I’d say he’s in a similar vein.

      Reply
  4. Naomi

    I have heard so many good things about this book – and I own a very beat up copy of it that cost me 50 cents – but I still haven’t read it. Something to look forward to!

    Reply
  5. kerryswash

    I did cheat and buy ‘Angle’ and ‘Recapitulation’ on a visit to NY. But yes WHY isn’t more available in the UK? – very remiss. By the by – those put off by the density of ‘Angle’ – it doesn’t feel like that once you get involved, you won’t want it to end….

    Reply

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