Crossing wholesale online sale to Safety (Modern Library Classics) online

Crossing wholesale online sale to Safety (Modern Library Classics) online

Crossing wholesale online sale to Safety (Modern Library Classics) online
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Description

Product Description

Introduction by Terry Tempest Williams
Afterword by T. H. Watkins
 
Called a “magnificently crafted story . . . brimming with wisdom” by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

Review

" A superb book. . . . Nothing in these lives is lost or wasted, suffering becomes an enriching benediction, and life itself a luminous experience." -- Doris Grumbach

"A superb book. . . . Nothing in these lives is lost or wasted, suffering becomes an enriching benediction, and life itself a luminous experience."--Doris Grumbach

From the Inside Flap

Called a ?magnificently crafted story . . . brimming with wisdom? by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

From the Back Cover

Called a "magnificently crafted story . . . brimming with wisdom" by Howard Frank Mosher in "The Washington Post Book World, "Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

About the Author

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of many books, including Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; and Finding Beauty in a Broken World. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lannan Literary Fellowship in creative nonfiction, she lives in southern Utah.
 
T. H. Watkins (1936–2000) was the first Wallace Stegner Distinguished Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University, and was the author of twenty-eight books.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Floating upward through a confusion of dreams and memory, curving like a trout through the rings of previous risings, I surface. My eyes open. I am awake.

Cataract sufferers must see like this when the bandages are removed after the operation: every detail as sharp as if seen for the first time, yet familiar too, known from before the time of blindness, the remembered and the seen coalescing as in a stereoscope.

It is obviously very early. The light is no more than dusk that leaks past the edges of the blinds. But I see, or remember, or both, the uncurtained windows, the bare rafters, the board walls with nothing on them except a calendar that I think was here the last time we were, eight years ago.

What used to be aggressively spartan is shabby now. Nothing has been refreshed or added since Charity and Sid turned the compound over to the children. I should feel as if I were waking up in some Ma-and-Pa motel in hard-times country, but I don’t. I have spent too many good days and nights in this cottage to be depressed by it.

There is even, as my eyes make better use of the dusk and I lift my head off the pillow to look around, something marvelously reassuring about the room, a warmth even in the gloom. Associations, probably, but also color. The unfinished pine of the walls and ceilings has mellowed, over the years, to a rich honey color, as if stained by the warmth of the people who built it into a shelter for their friends. I take it as an omen; and though I remind myself why we are here, I can’t shake the sense of loved familiarity into which I just awoke.

The air is as familiar as the room. Standard summer-cottage taint of mice, plus a faint, not-unpleasant remembrance of skunks under the house, but around and through those a keenness as of seven thousand feet. Illusion, of course. What smells like altitude is latitude. Canada is only a dozen miles north, and the ice sheet that left its tracks all over this region has not gone for good, but only withdrawn. Something in the air, even in August, says it will be back.

In fact, if you could forget mortality, and that used to be easier here than in most places, you could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras. Seen in either geological or biological terms, we don’t warrant attention as individuals. One of us doesn’t differ that much from another, each generation repeats its parents, the works we build to outlast us are not much more enduring than anthills, and much less so than coral reefs. Here everything returns upon itself, repeats and renews itself, and present can hardly be told from past.

Sally is still sleeping. I slide out of bed and go barefooted across the cold wooden floor. The calendar, as I pass it, insists that it is not the one I remember. It says, accurately, that it is 1972, and that the month is August.

The door creaks as I ease it open. Keen air, gray light, gray lake below, gray sky through the hemlocks whose tops reach well above the porch. More than once, in summers past, Sid and I cut down some of those weedlike trees to let more light into the guest cottage. All we did was destroy some individuals, we never discouraged the species. The hemlocks like this steep shore. Like other species, they hang on to their territory.

I come back in and get my clothes off a chair, the same clothes I wore from New Mexico, and dress. Sally sleeps on, used up by the long flight and the five-hour drive up from Boston. Too hard a day for her, but she wouldn’t hear of breaking the trip. Having been summoned, she would come.

For a minute I stand listening to her breathing, wondering if I dare go out and leave her. But she is deeply asleep, and should stay that way for a while. No one is going to be coming around at this hour. This early piece of the morning is mine. Tiptoeing, I go out onto the porch and stand exposed to what, for all my senses can tell me, might as well be 1938 as 1972.

No one is up in the Lang compound. No lights through the trees, no smell of kindling smoke on the air. I go out the spongy woods path past the woodshed and into the road, and there I meet the sky, faintly brightening in the east, and the morning star as steady as a lamp. Down under the hemlocks I thought it overcast, but out here I see the bowl of the sky pale and spotless.

My feet take me up the road to the gate, and through it. Just inside the gate the road forks. I ignore the Ridge House road and choose instead the narrow dirt road that climbs around the hill to the right. John Wightman, whose cottage sits at the end of it, died fifteen years ago. He will not be up to protest my walking in his ruts. It is a road I have walked hundreds of times, a lovely lost tunnel through the trees, busy this morning with birds and little shy rustling things, my favorite road anywhere.

Dew has soaked everything. I could wash my hands in the ferns, and when I pick a leaf off a maple branch I get a shower on my head and shoulders. Through the hardwoods along the foot of the hill, through the belt of cedars where the ground is swampy with springs, through the spruce and balsam of the steep pitch, I go alertly, feasting my eyes. I see coon tracks, an adult and two young, in the mud, and maturing grasses bent like croquet wickets with wet, and spotted orange Amanitas, at this season flattened or even concave and holding water, and miniature forests of club moss and ground pine and ground cedar. There are brown caves of shelter, mouse and hare country, under the wide skirts of spruce.

My feet are wet. Off in the woods I hear a Peabody bird tentatively try out a song he seems to have half forgotten. I look to the left, up the slope of the hill, to see if I can catch a glimpse of Ridge House, but see only trees.

Then I come out on the shoulder of the hill, and there is the whole sky, immense and full of light that has drowned the stars. Its edges are piled with hills. Over Stannard Mountain the air is hot gold, and as I watch, the sun surges up over the crest and stares me down.

We didn’t come back to Battell Pond this time for pleasure. We came out of affection and family solidarity, as adopted members of the clan, and because we were asked for and expected. But I can’t feel somber now, any more than I could when I awoke in the shabby old guest cottage. Quite the reverse. I wonder if I have ever felt more alive, more competent in my mind and more at ease with myself and my world, than I feel for a few minutes on the shoulder of that known hill while I watch the sun climb powerfully and confidently and see below me the unchanged village, the lake like a pool of mercury, the varying greens of hayfields and meadows and sugarbush and black spruce woods, all of it lifting and warming as the stretched shadows shorten.

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

When I come in I find Sally sitting up, the blind closest to the bed—the one she can reach—raised to let a streak of sun into the room. She is drinking a cup of coffee from the thermos and eating a banana from the fruit basket that Hallie left when she put us to bed last night.

“Not breakfast,” Hallie said. “Just hazari. We’ll come and get you for brunch, but we won’t come too early. You’ll be tired and off your clock. So sleep in, and we’ll come and get you about ten. After brunch we’ ll go up and see Mom, and later in the afternoon she’s planned a picnic on Folsom Hill.”

“A picnic?” Sally said. “Is she well enough to go on a picnic? If she’s doing it for us, she shouldn’t.”

“That’s the way she’s arranged it,” Hallie said. “She said you’d be tired, and to let you rest, and if she says you’ll be tired, you might as well be tired. If she plans a picnic, you’d better want a picnic. No, she’ll be all right. She saves her strength for the things that matter to her. She wants it like old times.”

I let up the other two blinds and lighten the dim room. “Where’d you go?” Sally asks.

“Up the old Wightman road.”

I pour myself coffee and sit down in the wicker chair that I remember as part of the furniture of the Ark. From the bed Sally watches me. “How was it?”

“Beautiful. Quiet. Good earthy smells. It hasn’t changed.”

“I wish I could have been along.”

“I’ll take you up later in the car.”

“No, we’ll be going up to the picnic, that’s enough.” She sips her coffee, watching me over the rim of the cup. “Isn’t it typical? At death’s door, and she wants it like old times, and orders everybody to make it that way. And worries about us being tired. Ah, she’s going to leave a hole! There’s been a hole, ever since we. . . . Did you feel any absences?”

“No absences. Presences.”

“I’m glad. I can’ t imagine this place without them in it. Both of them.”

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Lucille M. Zimmerman
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Why did I wait so long to read?
Reviewed in the United States on December 21, 2018
You know the type of book that reads so beautiful you want to cry? The kind of book you hold close to your chest and sigh as you read the last line? Well that''s what this book is. It''s always hard to rate books because they touch you in many different ways. I might feel... See more
You know the type of book that reads so beautiful you want to cry? The kind of book you hold close to your chest and sigh as you read the last line? Well that''s what this book is. It''s always hard to rate books because they touch you in many different ways. I might feel inspired by Jewel''s biography. Uplifted by Ingrid Fetell Lee''s Joyful. But certain books make you a better person. This is one such book.

It''s the story of two couples---two wives married to two professors---during the great depression. It is set on the shores of Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. It''s a simple story told deeply, with compassion, about quotidian lives.

There is no giant plot and no great action. And yet I never struggled to pick this book up. In fact, it had the opposite effect on me. I wanted to sit under my Christmas tree, while the day''s light faded across my couch, savoring each word.

I''ve heard of this book for over a decade. It''s been sitting there on my bookshelf, just waiting for December 2018 when I would read it.

How happy am I to learn that Stegner wrote 27 more books. In fact, I ordered his book about John Wesley Powell for my son.
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Swing You Cats
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A truly adult novel, and that''s high praise.
Reviewed in the United States on July 23, 2016
Stegner is already an eminence and he doesn''t need my Amazon review to rest comfortably, but . . . this is one of those rare adult novels that deals tenderly and honestly with adult life -- the struggle for money and reputation, the shifting dynamics and tensions between... See more
Stegner is already an eminence and he doesn''t need my Amazon review to rest comfortably, but . . . this is one of those rare adult novels that deals tenderly and honestly with adult life -- the struggle for money and reputation, the shifting dynamics and tensions between two couples; how one recovers (if one does) from a major illness, how one faces death. It is a book for grownups, only because nineteen-year olds would have no idea of what the author describes, and how hard life is even for fairly privileged people in academia. I found it very moving and, as you can tell, difficult to describe. Early on in my reading, the characters were seriously real to me, so that I ached for them and felt attached to them. It''s an outstanding book, but I fear it not flashy enough to warrant postmodern critical notice, although Stegner does shift both perspective and time. He creates a world -- no, several worlds.
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KauiTop Contributor: Historical Fiction Books
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An elegant elegy on human relationships
Reviewed in the United States on November 8, 2020
This book was lyrical - an elegy to relationships - particularly friendships and marriages - that rings true. Stegner''s prose is, as always, spare and evocative. On page 8, as the narrator listens to his wife describe a bad dream, he describes a tumbler of water on the... See more
This book was lyrical - an elegy to relationships - particularly friendships and marriages - that rings true. Stegner''s prose is, as always, spare and evocative. On page 8, as the narrator listens to his wife describe a bad dream, he describes a tumbler of water on the bedside table. "The sun, coming in flat, knocks a prismatic oval out of the tumbler and lays it on the ceiling." This is why I love Stegner so much.

The narrator and his wife have come back to the summer home of their best friends, at the behest of the dying wife. Most of the book is a reflection on the arc of the marriage Sid and Charity, a couple they meet at their first job as hopeful professors at University of Wisconsin in Madison, and their subsequent friendship. Sid and Charity are Moneyed, from Cambridge. The narrator and his wife Sally have no family nor trust fund. The couples become extremely close and their friendship crosses decades. The way the marriages and friendships are described, explored and developed is where Stegner''s artistry stands out. It is a nuanced portrait of how humans relate to each other and get their needs met, however uniquely and perhaps sub-optimally.

I highly recommend this book.
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Jane Hoppe, author
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Stegner explores friendship
Reviewed in the United States on September 7, 2017
Just what is the basis of a lasting friendship? Wallace Stegner gives us plenty of possible answers to that question in his novel Crossing to Safety. Larry and Sally meet Sid and Charity in 1938 when Larry and Sid are English professors in Madison, Wisconsin. Since the... See more
Just what is the basis of a lasting friendship? Wallace Stegner gives us plenty of possible answers to that question in his novel Crossing to Safety. Larry and Sally meet Sid and Charity in 1938 when Larry and Sid are English professors in Madison, Wisconsin. Since the final scenes of their story are in 1972 at Sid and Charity’s Vermont home, their friendship endures thirty-plus years of personal, professional, and health ups and downs. The novel lays out tensions and joys of the two couples’ enduring friendship from Larry’s point of view. Mutual acceptance and support are what prevail.
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Book Addict
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Outstanding Characterization and Descriptive Prose
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2015
He''s known for his dedication in writing about the preservation of the West of the United States, but my introduction to him came from reading his novel, Crossing to Safety. I''ve already ordered his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose because I''m enamored of this... See more
He''s known for his dedication in writing about the preservation of the West of the United States, but my introduction to him came from reading his novel, Crossing to Safety. I''ve already ordered his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Angle of Repose because I''m enamored of this gentle man''s prose and honesty in the telling of a compelling story. Isn''t that the standard to which all authors should aspire? I know it''s what I wish for myself.

From the very beginning, he drew me into his story as the narrator, Larry, and his wife, Sally awaken in a cabin in the woods of Vermont in 1972. There''s to be a meeting of some significance between their old friends, Sid and Charity, who own the property where they now find themselves.

From there, Stegner takes the reader on a journey back to the 1930s during the dark days of Depression when the two couples meet in Madison, both as young and eager professors and their wives, at the University of Wisconsin. The plot may not be filled with dark twists and turns. It doesn''t matter. The characters come alive under the lively pen of the author. Charity in particular fills the pages and overflows onto the margins and binding of the book. Her speech and her actions show us in absolute clarity that she is the queen--sometimes overbearing, but always with a heart firmly in front--of this foursome. Here''s Stegner first description of Charity when he steps into his small basement apartment:

"In the dim apartment she blazed. Her hair was drawn back in a bun, as if to clear her face for expression, and everything in the face smiled--lips, teeth, cheeks, eyes."

Charity lives beyond this first impression. Sid, her husband, pales in comparison, except when Stegner describes his physicality, which resembles that of an ancient Greek god. Larry, the narrator, provides us the view of everyone else, although he remains an enigma through most of the novel. However, it is always clear his opinion of his best friend, Sid, and his controlling, yet caring, wife Charity. Perhaps it is Larry''s love of his wife Sally that tells the reader the most of his character. Sally, a victim of the vicious polio, remains the stalwart and force behind Larry despite her challenges. She''s my hero of the novel much more so than the dominant Charity.

Characterization stands as one of the most important aspects of literary fiction because without it the reader has no reason to continue reading, no glue to keep them stuck to the plot. However, the descriptive prose of Stegner kept me attached to the story as much as the compelling characters. His love of nature shines through the story. At times, I stopped reading just to absorb the beauty and clarity of his descriptions, as shown in this description of the Vermont woods, as Larry, Sid, and their pack-horse Wizard make their way to a camp on their first day of a week-long hike.

"Dust has whitened the ferns along the roadside, gypsy moths have built their tents in the chokecherry bushes, the meadow on the left is yellow with goldenrod, ice-blue with asters, stalky with mullein, rough with young spruce. Everything taller than the grass is snagged with the white fluff of milkweed. On the other side is a level hayfield, green from a second cutting. The woods at the far edge rise in a solid wall. In the yard of an empty farmhouse we sample apples off a gnarled tree. Worms in every one. But Wizard finds them refreshing, and blubbers cider as he walks."

This example shows that descriptive prose need be neither showy or pushy to paint a portrait for the reader. In its simplicity, I floated above the scene taking in every detail, including the foam sputtering from the mouth of Wizard.

I am a fan left wondering how I missed reading Wallace Stegner before now. In his sixty-year career, he wrote thirty books, both fiction and nonfiction. Edward Abbey claimed, before Stegner''s death in 1993, that he was "the only living American writer worthy of the Nobel." He never received the honor, but he does receive my highest praise for achieving what I only aspire to do as an environmental author of outstanding fiction.
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Digital Rights
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Master of contemplation that skillfully detours away from drama.
Reviewed in the United States on May 10, 2019
Wallace Stegner''s Crossing to Safety won me at hello. Several years ago I read "Angle of Repose" and was left wanting. Perhaps a mix of a storyline, different expectations and getting a bit older evoked more in me than I expected. I loved the authentic... See more
Wallace Stegner''s Crossing to Safety won me at hello. Several years ago I read "Angle of Repose" and was left wanting. Perhaps a mix of a storyline, different expectations and getting a bit older evoked more in me than I expected.

I loved the authentic atmosphere from the depression through the 70''s. Stegner''s work is a fluid. By not trying to oversell the age he layers the story with exactly what''s needed to give a sense of place and time. Be it Wisconsin or Vermont in the 30''s, 60''s or 70''s one can be absorbed into the changing seasons and almost feel the differences physically.

I appreciated the internal voice of narrator Larry Morgan. His voice reflects empathy coupled with the limitations of knowing others. He contemplates his relationships with his wife and friends and recognizes in particular the gray area of friendship with Charity Lang as the wife of his colleague. He values his friendship with Sid and Charity and his love and respect for them is genuine. Equally he can see how is own professional success is both celebrated and somewhat of a rub against Sid and a source of friction between Sid and Charity.

Stegner almost purposely makes this book a "no drama zone". But engages the reader to live with him as he reflects. It''s an interesting style that I would argue often doesn''t work. There are points in the book where he could have added a bit of drama but it''s clear as he resolves with quick explanations that he''s after something more than a narrative about friendship.

There is a lot of meat on this bone and one that a reader can easily enjoy chewing on long after reading it.
5 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Brilliant descriptions
Reviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
As a writer myself, I can honestly say I learned more about writing from reading Wallace Stegner. His deeply analytical approach to everything makes you pause at each moment. This is the first book I have ever heard where the writing was more exciting than the plot.... See more
As a writer myself, I can honestly say I learned more about writing from reading Wallace Stegner. His deeply analytical approach to everything makes you pause at each moment. This is the first book I have ever heard where the writing was more exciting than the plot.
Stegner''s observations are thoughtfully executed in a unique fashion. In his novel "Crossing to Safety" his well drawn characters come to life. Before long, one reads each page, feeling you know these people.

I would highly recommend this book.
4 people found this helpful
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Balzac
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Old fashioned writing and sad story
Reviewed in the United States on November 23, 2020
So, if you are in the mood for reading a book that is ''famous'', but written in an old-fashioned manner, then this is your cup of tea! You do need to know that the story is NOT uplifting at all, and I personally, wanted to slap the main female character because she was such... See more
So, if you are in the mood for reading a book that is ''famous'', but written in an old-fashioned manner, then this is your cup of tea! You do need to know that the story is NOT uplifting at all, and I personally, wanted to slap the main female character because she was such an awful person to her husband and a commanding overbearing person to almost everyone else. Not a lot of positive attributes to this woman!
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Top reviews from other countries

Mme Suzanne Lageard
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The most wonderful book I''ve read in a long time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2014
I started reading this book yesterday morning very early on a bus journey I was dreading; from a few pages in, it completely changed my view of my surroundings and of the trip I was undertaking. The words in the book are so beautiful, the descriptions so vivid that from the...See more
I started reading this book yesterday morning very early on a bus journey I was dreading; from a few pages in, it completely changed my view of my surroundings and of the trip I was undertaking. The words in the book are so beautiful, the descriptions so vivid that from the start I read slowly, savouring each page. I took the time to look out of the window and to appreciate how the morning sun was illuminating the green fields around me, the mist handing on church spires in the distance. As I got deeper into the book, I got attached to Sally and Larry, and Sid and Charity, the four main protagonists, whose friendship is the underlying theme. Stegner tells of their lives, of the wonderful fun they have, in snow, on boats, in the outside; of the parties they organise, of the adventures they go on, but also of the sorrows they face. The focus is on the relationship between Sid and Charity, who have very opposing characterics. The dilemmas they face seem real, and I often paused to ask myself what I would do in a given situation. On several occasions, it also became a page-turner, making me speed up to find out the outcome of certain predicaments. Like other wonderful books such as Siri Hudvest''s What I love, it talks beautifully of art. It made me what to go to museums, to listen to music properly, to create, to develop my life. I really can''t recommend this book enough; I will definitely reread it, and then make my way through all of Stegner''s other writings.
9 people found this helpful
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EDNA
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wonderful book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 1, 2020
My sister recommended this but unfortunately she had already lent it to someone in her book club., so I ordered it. I couldn’t put it down, wonderful depiction of class, academic life and relationships in America. I passed it onto my husband and he couldn’t put it down...See more
My sister recommended this but unfortunately she had already lent it to someone in her book club., so I ordered it. I couldn’t put it down, wonderful depiction of class, academic life and relationships in America. I passed it onto my husband and he couldn’t put it down either. Beautifully written, great characters. Highly recommended
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C.Campbell
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Timeless classic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 12, 2019
Set in 1930s academia in the US, this is a story of marriage, friendship and ambition. Whilst it was written many years ago, it’s account of relationships has many contemporary echoes. Beautifully written, with a captivating plot.
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Pauline Butcher Bird
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Showed promise but then disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 11, 2014
This novel started off full of promise and I loved the story of two married academic couples bound in friendship and their early married life. But then, three quarters of the way through, the story loses its way as if Stegner had no idea how to finish it. Was there...See more
This novel started off full of promise and I loved the story of two married academic couples bound in friendship and their early married life. But then, three quarters of the way through, the story loses its way as if Stegner had no idea how to finish it. Was there something symbolic about the two wives becoming neutralised, physically damaged, while their husbands stagger on and survive, fully armed? Perhaps the answer is there somewhere but I raced through the endless boring detail and description in the latter part of the novel, detail that left ragged ends and seemed to go nowhere. Final analysis, disappointing. (Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa)
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maria
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Heart touching story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2019
Nice story of four friends, two couples. For me was a bit slow at the begining but from half the book to the end I coudn''t stop reading, engage with the characters and the story.
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