I had heard a lot about “Crossing to Safety” from a lot of people online. It is one of the American Classics that demand a read and once you have read it, you will be ever thankful. Or so I had heard from everyone who had read the book and could not stop talking about it. I had to read it. I tried reading it initially and then gave it up. I could not get past the fiftieth page. I tried reading it once more. It appealed to me a little and then some more. Before I knew it, I was done with the book and also had a few tissues by my side drenched with my tears. Yes, it is an emotional book and yes it makes you cry, which is wonderful, because very few books have managed to make me cry.
“Crossing to Safety” was written by Wallace Stegner during the 80s and first published in 1987 and since then it has marvelled its readers and made them think and laugh and cry. The plot is not very complex, neither it is very profound. What makes it so close to life is its writing and the fact that it is just like living – slow, redundant and yet full of hope and ideas that soar. It is a story of two couples and their long standing friendship, loves and lives played out between Vermont and Wisconsin.
The book is as simple as it seems and yet resonates with the reader on so many levels. It is about the quietness of marriage and on the stability of life, where maybe nothing much has to happen anyway. It is us who are bored of it more often than not and want changes. Stegner puts everything in perspective, well almost everything – his take on life, marriage and art is stupendous through this novel. Wallace Stegner looks at humans the way they are – defeated and sometimes with a lot of flaws. He does not glorify any character or any philosophy. In his books, things are the way they are – slow moving and without any events.
What the author does is create a magnificent portrait of relationships through two couples. The book is about how you cannot plan life and it will work out quite differently from what you thought it would. Of course I am not going to give away the subplot, however it is about the single day when you try so hard to remain in character and not do what you aren’t expected to, but end up doing just that to prove life otherwise. Stegner’s writing is big, bold and good. He takes his chances with the narrative – sometimes linear and sometimes not so much. I could not stop turning the pages and by the end of it I was enriched as a reader for sure and yet was drained as a person in the sense of an emotion – I cried because it was written so well. A must read. A classic that you should not miss.