Wednesday Reads – Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner


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

I have been so looking forward to this review.  I think this book my have changed something inside me like only very, very special books can.  Some people have romances, I’ve even heard of people having bro-mances, well I had a book-mance this summer.  A total, all-consuming affair with the characters in Crossing to Safety…. sorry Mr Good but it was totally worth it.  If you’ve never read it, please do yourselves a huge favour and run immediately to the library and borrow it…. or buy it if that’s your thing.  And if you hate I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle that, I just won’t understand that at all.

Well enough with the waffle, let’s get to the meat.  This book is all about the characters, the wonderful, quirky, loveable, sometimes intensely frustrating characters.  Their relationship with each other and the way it develops and changes over time and in relation to certain (life changing) events.  The characters are Sid and Charity Lang and Larry and Sally Morgan, two couples who forge a life-long bond of friendship that changes all of their lives.  Sid and Larry are both academics at the same university and through this connection their wives, both in the same stage of pregnancy (which they turn into a race!) also become the absolute best of friends.  Their journey together (and they really do do everything together) sees the four encounter some wonderful highs, but also some terrible lows and come out the other side changed but still friends.

I could go on about the story line, but really you should just read it, I’ll never do it justice.  I’ve read a couple of other reviews on Goodread, and one said exactly what I thought.

There are some books that seem to have tiny leaks in their spines and covers and pages and release almost unnoticeable misty, smoky particles of their story – well not so much their story but the mood that is created by the story – out into the “real” world. And when reading these books you find – or at least I find (I should shift my point of reference to me not you) that I am seeing things in my daily routine through a sort of cloud that at first I don’t recognize but then suddenly it dawns on me that it’s from the book I’m reading! My dreams are affected, my relationships are affected, my perception of self is affected, and my writing style and speaking style change – all because of the fumes from this book seepage. And Crossing to Safety has seepage.

Seepage, that’s exactly right, it has seepage.  There’s only one other book that I can think of right now that made me feel the same way and that was Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.  I would never have expected to get the feeling from this one, the story is not quite on par with Crossing To Safety, the writing not quite as stunning, but the characters with that same quality that just sticks to you, that feeling like you actually know them.  I remember being in a second hand record shop thinking I should tell my friend that collects records about this place, only to realise that ‘friend’ was a character in The Time Travel’s Wife.  And if I was into poetry I would probably read something great and want to share it with Larry, or tell Charity about my (future) trip to Italy.  It’s just that kind of book.

What I would absolutely love to know is, what book has done this to you?  In fact I think I MUST know, what other books have seepage?


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9 Responses to Wednesday Reads – Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

  1. I found the same feeling with seepage from the Hunger Games Trilogy. It changed my life on a fundamental level that I am still yet to recognise the depths thereof. I didn’t have nearly the connection with most of the characters but the main character, Katniss, I conneted with at a truly profound level. I think I read the books back to back 4 or 5 times through within a month. That’s an absolute first for me.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I haven’t read the Hunger Games, but there is some truly great teen fiction out there so it doesn’t surprise me that you felt that way. When I was teaching high school English the Hunger Games books were on high turn over at the library and I think my entire Year 7 class read them at some point during the year (hence why I couldn’t get my hands on them). For me as a teenager it was the Tomorrow series by John Marsden. I loved them along with plenty of his other books.

  2. narf77 says:

    Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Both had profound effects on me and left me both wounded and feeling like I had become something more substantial simply by allowing the words to flow through my mental veins. I am requesting both of those books you mentioned right now. If I hate them I will stay shtum 😉

    • Barbara Good says:

      Oh I loved the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society too. I remember being completely devastated when looking for other books by the author only to find out she died before the end of the writing of that book, her first and only. Thank goodness for her niece who finished the editing of the book and got it published (think she worked in publishing anyway). I’ve read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin too but don’t really remember it – I might have been a bit young when I tried that one.

      • narf77 says:

        I was so taken by The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society I did exactly the same thing and went hunting for more books and I found her “top 100 books” list. She was a librarian and so I figured that I would work my way through her top 100 list. I read some amazingly good books but she seemed to have a love of bodice rippers as well that bored me to tears. Again, what one person loves is another persons nightmare ;). I loved that Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was almost factual and I learned a hell of a lot about the war through reading it. Just loved the novel though it talked to me. Sometimes you have to be in a particular place in your life to be hit in the solar plexus by a novel and I think I read it when I needed it :).

  3. narf77 says:

    I feel rich…I feel like someone who has 2 very large, most delicious boxes of chocolates hidden under the bed. You know the kind, where every single chocolate is a good one. I managed to get both books on hold at the library and feel like I won lotto 🙂

    • Barbara Good says:

      Oh Narf, now I’m a little nervous, I so hope you like them. Love your chocolate box analogy, but I must say I do feel like a really good chocolate truffle now!

      • narf77 says:

        I might have to make myself some good vegan truffles now. I figure a nice bowl full would go well with an excellent novel :). Don’t be nervous, books have to be seriously long winded, boring, or absolute crap before I will toss them on the half read pile ;).

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