Wallace Stegner's lovely book Crossing to Safety explores the friendship between two couples that forms during the Depression and continues through the decades until death intrudes. Larry and Sally are a young couple starting out their married life in 1937. They pull into the college town where Larry will begin teaching college; they meet Charity and Sid and suddenly they are part of a bigger world than they previously inhabited.
Stegner's turn of phrase and compelling imagery put you in a time and place that you have to shake your head when you look up from your book to remind yourself that you are not really there. "There" could be a midwestern college town in Wisconsin, a mountain camp in Vermont, or a piazza in Italy.
The quote that inspires the book is from Henry Adams, "Chaos was the law of nature; Order was the dream of man." Several key scenes explore this notion. Best-laid plans and all of that. It's each character's reaction to the loss of order and the onset of chaos in their lives that keep you turning the pages.
I think my very favorite part is where Larry as narrator relates to us that this is the story of a friendship. As a writer he recognizes that this is the point where the story should encounter some drama such as an affair or something, but he tells us that this isn't that kind of story.
Not a new book, Crossing to Safety was new to me. I hadn't read Stegner before, and I will definitely give his other books a read. I’m still mulling over the significance of the title. If someone who has read it wants to give me some insights, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Who is Crossing to Safety? Where is that?