• Crossing to Safety

  • By: Wallace Stegner
  • Narrated by: Richard Poe
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (1,353 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of the finest American authors of the 20th century, Wallace Stegner compiled an impressive collection of accolades during his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a National Book Award, and three O. Henry Awards. His final novel, Crossing to Safety is the quiet yet stirring tale of two couples that meet during the Great Depression and form a lifelong bond.
©2002 Wallace Earle Stegner (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"This is a wonderfully rich, warm, and affecting book." ( Library Journal)
"It's deceptively simple: two bright young couples meet during the Depression and form an instant and lifelong friendship. "How do you make a book that anyone will read out of lives as quiet as these?" Larry Morgan, a successful novelist and the narrator of the story, poses that question many years after he and his wife, Sally, have befriended the vibrant, wealthy, and often troubled Sid and Charity Lang. "Where is the high life, the conspicuous waste, the violence, the kinky sex, the death wish?" It's not here. What is here is just as fascinating, just as compelling, as touching, and as tragic." (Amazon.com review)

What listeners say about Crossing to Safety

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing Stegner and his beautiful last book

I adore Stegner. He develops characters and stories with depth better than anybody. This book is about two couples, Larry and Sally Morgan and Sid and Charity Lang. They meet as young couples in a college in Wisconsin, and the book follows their lives and relationships.

It is by twists and turns heart-warming and tragic. He shows the two sides of character that can be giving and demanding - so much like life. In this book, he digs into how life is complex, we get in our own way, but some people gloriously overcome illnesses or setbacks what would destroy others.

This was his last book, and makes me want to read much more that he has written.

22 people found this helpful

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This is life

There is a certain nakedness to Stegner's storytelling, in the sense that it doesn't shy away from uncomfortable subjects like death and troubled marriages. His characters are not always likeable, but they are very real and may even remind you of people you know. This is a book about the life of a friendship between two couples over many years. Stegner explores the joy and excitement of the young friendship, but he recognizes that friendships can die away to almost nothing for long periods of time, only to be reignited by a major event. Stegner's appeal (for me anyway) is in his ability to develop his characters as they age and deal with life's challenges -- as well as to describe their surroundings lovingly and vividly. This story is not predictable, nor does it offer any particular shocks or surprises. However, it is gut-wrenching in its honesty about human beings and the institutions of marriage and friendship.

18 people found this helpful

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Sooooo Boring

If I didn't have to read this for a book club I would have shut it off 5 hours ago. Literally nothing has happened. There's no conflict, no tension, no story. There is nothing to move the lack of story along. The characters are just so bland. I don't even think it's "beautifully written". It's just so dull and plodding. The people who have given this high reviews have drunk the Kool Aide.

Don't waste you're credits or time. It's awful.

10 people found this helpful

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The most beautifully written book I've ever read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. I am not a literary savant and didn't even recognize many of the references in this book, but I loved this book in every way. The reading was done wonderfully, the book, itself is the most beautifully written book I've ever read. I do not usually love flowery language in books and often loose focus, but the way that this author gives every detail of emotion and experience was spell-binding. I am almost, but not quite to the end so can't comment on it, but cannot imagine that I will be disappointed because I love this book so much.

What other book might you compare Crossing to Safety to and why?

Can't think of any

Have you listened to any of Richard Poe’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

9 people found this helpful

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A Tour de Force from a Master

What did you love best about Crossing to Safety?

It's a beautifully written novel, psychological and reflective, that follows a friendship between two couples over forty years. Richard Poe's reading is as close to perfect as it can be.

5 people found this helpful

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So bad I couldn't finish it

The worst Stegner piece ever written. Three hours into it and there's still no plot. Listening to this book is more painful than watching grass grow.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Love the book

Lush and beautifully written, this story covers many years of two couples. If you like Richard Fords stuff, or Russo, then you will be very happy with this book.

11 people found this helpful

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Slow but worth the time

Hmmm, how does one review a book like this? It’s the story of two couples: their friendship, marriages, lives, treasured memories and hardships. I found the story a bit slow at times and occasionally disjointed. No huge rising plot. No language frills. No magnificently crafted scenery. That said, there was a rawness to it—a deeply human face that held my attention and my focus, even when I wasn’t reading. I’m glad I read it, but I’m not sure I’d go around recommending it to everyone I know… except perhaps to my sister, to get her take on the family dynamics in the book. There were certainly some ponderous subtleties I could relate to.

6 people found this helpful

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The way Life should be Lived

There are no shocking sex scenes and no great excapes from the law, but the depth of friendship and marital love was well captured in Crossing to Safety.

I will not over-sell the book - while I felt good after reading it, it is not for everybody. I liked it. I want to be like the men in this book. I long for true intimacy with my wife the way both couples in the book have it. The women had the courage to face life with no fear. The book is for mature readers who want to live their lives without fear.

You can share this book with anyone with confidence.

2 people found this helpful

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This book is now on my favorites list.

After hearing of this book for years, I finally listened to it. I am a richer person for having done so. This story is a gem, touching all the far reaches of my heart. I KNOW these characters and love each of them. It breaks my heart to have it end and lifts me with its magic.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. P. McGregor
  • 12-24-12

A Gem to be Savoured

I bought this after hearing it recommended by all three participants in a recent edition of "A Good Read" and am very glad that I did. It's a simple enough story of two couples played out against the background of mid twentieth century America but cheering in its account of the pleasures and occasional difficulties of friendship and feels emotionally very true. Credit too to the narrator Richard Poe for adding significantly to the pleasures of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • hfffoman
  • 02-06-15

A lesson to aspiring writers

If you could sum up Crossing to Safety in three words, what would they be?

Exquisitely crafted prose

How could the performance have been better?

The reading almost spoiled this beautiful book for me. Not only was it dull and expressionless but they chose a reader whose rough gritty voice would be more suited to a Cormack McCarthy depiction of death and evil than a sensitive novel about peoples' feelings.

Any additional comments?

This novel is so beautifully written I actually copied out some passages just so I could come back and admire them.

Choose this book if you enjoy fine observation of realistic characters, reflection rather than events. You don't need to know what it's about, though you have probably seen a summary saying it's about the relationship between two couples. That doesn't matter. What matters is the way he writes about them. When the couples are about to meet for the first time, the narrator rings the doorbell and devotes half a page of discussion to the meaning of pressing the button. The meeting itself generates a longer essay.

The writing is almost as reflective as Proust and indeed early in the book the narrator says he is going for a walk to do a little recherche du temps perdu. If you like the reflective style (of the two dramatic events in the book, one is described with more reflection than drama and the other he actually skips with the cheeky comment that this isn't an adventure novel) you will find it here in its finest style. To give a good feel for it would make this review overly long but here is a tiny bit from the meeting I mentioned above:

"We wandered into their orderly Newtonian universe a couple of asteroids and they captured us with their gravitational pull and made moons of us and fixed us in orbit around themselves... We felt their friendship as freezing travellers felt a dry room and a fire."

Finally, my favourite passage, in case you happen to remember, is the internal debate about upward mobility (beginning of part 2 chapter 4).

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MPLondon
  • 04-11-21

Why the sneer?

I have read the book in recent years and turned to audible to enjoy this complex, nuanced story of two intertwined couples over many decades. My experience was detracted by the evident sneer in the narrator’s voice which took sides as to which characters were worthy or less worthy.