“All-Weather Friends”: me on Wallace Stegner

at Acculturated:

All three novels of marriage I’ve looked at so far have a certain sense of the privacy of marriage, which can become isolation. In fact, the focus has narrowed with each novel: Extended family and community are essential parts of Kristin Lavransdatter, but its heart remains with Kristin’s marriage and home; the isolation of the married couple is part of the point of How to Be Good; and Gilead gains much of its force from the sense that the dying narrator is increasingly separate from his wife, child, and best friend. Something is missing here. Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety is a terrific portrayal of that missing piece of marriage: the way it intertwines with friendships, the way one’s own marriage isn’t solely one’s own.

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