Posted by: Jeanie F | January 13, 2019

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

I was shocked to discover that I have never written a review about Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner when it is, in fact, one of my all-time favorite books. I have probably read it three – maybe four – times and, if I had to bet on it, would bet that I’m likely to read it again sometime before my vision and mental acuity have completely deserted me.

I happen to be rereading it now because it is our book club book this month. This is the story of two couples who meet early in their marriages and form a lifelong friendship. It is told by the narrator, Larry Morgan who, along with his pregnant wife, Sally, moves to Wisconsin to begin a new teaching assignment in the university’s English Department. They soon become friends with another university couple, Sid and Charity Lang. There is an instant chemistry between the couples that lasts a lifetime – and sees them through academic pressures, pregnancies, illness, and death. They survive the myriad challenges that life brings to us all with no wavering in their devotion to one another.

The beauty of this deceptively simple story is the complex undertones that bring these individuals to life. Each of them, individually and together, both struggle and succeed over the decades in the way that we all do. Professional and physical highs and lows, opportunities to love and to lose those we love, the exquisite detail of shared experiences that follow us through a lifetime that may be, on its surface, a rather small life, are shown to be of the greatest import. It is the steadfast strength of this foursome that creates the fabric of this story. Life is best lived with friends.

Crossing to Safety is Stegner at his best. If you’ve never read his work, you could do a lot worse than to begin here. To quote from Publisher’s Weekly, “… [Stegner] has created a believable human drama the dimensions of which reach out beyond the story’s end and resonate in the reader’s heart.”



  1. Thanks for the great review. It is one of my favorite books; in fact, I usually cite it when someone asks for a book I enjoyed. Inspired by your book club list, I am rereading it, but I’ve never had the chance to talk about it with other readers. Lucky you!

    • Why don’t you come to my house at 4:15 on Wednesday? Don’t I wish!

  2. I loved that book.
    Two of my current favorites are Happiness by Aminatta Forna. She is so good and writes very diverse books. Also loved her The Hired Man. I cannot get my friends to read The Overstory by Richard Powers.. too bad. Such a powerful and enjoyable book

  3. They are all new to me – I’ll look into them. Is there one that you particularly recommend?

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