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    a brilliant read5

    Marianne Vincent Crossing to Safety is the last novel by American author Wallace Stegner. The year is 1972, and 64-year-old author and college professor, Larry Morgan and his crippled wife, Sally, journey from Albuquerque to enjoy again the hospitality of their friends, Sidney and Charity Lang, at Battell Pond, Vermont. The occasion, Charity's birthday is, however, tinged with sadness as Charity has only a short time to live. On their return to this much loved place, Larry reflects on the couples' friendship, from their meeting as young college teachers in Madison, Wisconsin in 1937, through to tenure at Cambridge, a year's sabbatical together in Florence and back to Albuquerque. Stegner slowly and surely crafts a story with a wonderfully original plot and beautifully developed characters. Two couples, four vastly different people become friends: warm, generous, uncomplaining and thoughtful Sally; dazzling, dominating, theatrical Charity, occasionally a woman of noble generosity, at other times cruel, but always organising, even her own death; Sid, rich as Croesus, a wonderful teacher and sometimes poet; and Larry, a poor, talented author, loyal husband and friend. Stegner touches on the nature of talent, love, friendship and marriage. He includes a marvellous piece of irony when he has Larry explaining why he would not write a book about their friendship: "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these? Where are the things that novelists seize upon and readers expect? Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish? Where are the suburban infidelities, the promiscuities, the convulsive divorces, the alcohol, the drugs, the lost weekends? Where are the hatreds, the political ambitions, the lust for power? Where are the speed, noise, ugliness, everything that makes us who we are and makes us recognise ourselves in fiction?" This could easily be a description of "Crossing to Safety". And yet, this novel has drama and emotion and some beautiful prose. A brilliant read. by Marianne Vincent

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