Wallace Stegner's novel about a decades-long friendship between two couples is just as rewarding on its 25th anniversary as it was when first published.
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin for Barnes & Noble Review
It's a good time of year to lose yourself in an absorbing, transportive story that has nothing topical, tropical, stormy, or smarmy about it. Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) may be better known for his 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winner, "Angle of Repose," but it's his last novel, "Crossing to Safety," which quietly celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, that keeps drawing me back. This is the kind of book – the apt first selection for Will Schwalbe's "The End of Your Life Book Club," by the way – that reminds you why reading is such a wonderful solace and escape.
Achingly poignant and nostalgia-steeped, "Crossing to Safety" is about a close friendship between two couples that spans some forty years, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do them part. Taking its title from a line from Robert Frost's poem, "I Could Give All to Time," the novel's concerns are the inexorable passage of time and inevitable loss, but also what one holds onto – "The things forbidden that while the Customs slept I have crossed to Safety with" – most notably, memories (both heartwarming and difficult), and love.
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