Saturday, July 7, 2018
Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics) Paperback by Wallace Earle Stegner ( Modern Library)
This book reminded me of a bell curve - I liked the middle, but not the beginning or the end. I thought the first chapter, which actually talks about the end of the story, was completely confusing. I couldn't tell where they were or why they were there. However, it did set the stage for the big suspenseful element in an otherwise character-driven story (how and when did Sally injure her legs?).
Following the first chapter, the story reverts to chronological order with how the Langs and Morgans meet at Wisconsin and are instantly drawn to each other. This part also begins the themes of friendship and relationship dynamics that drive the story. The Langs both come from a pressure-filled world of inherited wealth and the Morgans from more humble backgrounds where Larry's father told him to "do what you like to do. It'll probably turn out to be what you do best.". These different backgrounds will play a big part in the Morgans' and Langs' relationship dynamics throughout the book. You can also begin to see the power imbalance that characterizes the Langs' marriage and how that affects the dynamics between both couples.
"Part II" of the book focuses on the Morgans' long stay at Battell Pond, Charity's family's compound in Vermont. I loved this part of the book as it was all about the power of family (especially extended family that "swarmed like termites") and the closeness that can result from having a family gathering spot.
Finally, there is a section where both couples live in Florence, and it was my least favorite. It reads like the travel journal of someone who is obsessed with checking every possible historical site off his/her "to do" list. There's not much description about the places they visit and even less focus on the relationship dynamics, which are the truly interesting part of this book.
The ending is fitting given the relationship dynamics at play, but I was getting bored of it all by that point and just wanted to be finished with the book.
Despite liking some things about Crossing to Safety (the middle of the story and Stegner's writing style, even though it was a bit more pretentious than the simple writing I'm usually drawn to), they just weren't enough to recommend reading it.