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Ladder Of Years by Anne Tyler
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Ladder Of Years (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Anne Tyler

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2,533492,386 (3.7)1 / 131
Member:Sharkell
Title:Ladder Of Years
Authors:Anne Tyler
Info:Knopf (1995), Edition: 1st Trade Ed, Hardcover, 325 pages
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
Rating:****
Tags:America

Work details

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler (1995)

Recently added byprivate library, pistachioalmond, nbrown1617, WHOStaffLibrary, martinb1, LitaVore, AllieF

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors. She's a gentle writer, taking family situations to task and I find myself immersed in what's happening. Her characters are created to be interesting and well-developed. This book did not disappoint. It's set in the mid-1980s but at times it seemed more recent because of the timeless circumstances.

Delia is a wife and mother of three older children (high school and college). She's feeling very much underappreciated and wonders if she was ever really in love with her husband. She didn't go to college, married very young and missed the growing experience of being on her own. She was always dependent on someone, first her parents and then her husband.

Delia impulsively walks away from her family with $500 of her family's vacation money and starts a new life in a small town. She has new experiences such as finding a place to live, getting a job, making friends and living on her own. It wasn't always easy for her and she wonders if she had done the right thing. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens to Delia and the family she left. I asked myself if most women feel like Delia about just walking away from their situation. I am willing to bet they do but, before doing it, most realize the grass is not always greener. ( )
  pegmcdaniel | Feb 26, 2017 |
A mum whose family lived in her Dr father's home, suddenly walks out on them all ans sets up in a room with a new job. The book follows her learning and the family' coping until a death brings them back together
  Annabel1954 | Feb 25, 2017 |
I thought of quitting this book several times, but in the end was glad I didn't. The ending doesn't wrap everything up but I think I'm happier that it leaves it to the reader to decide how they resolved their issues. ( )
  cherilove | Jan 22, 2017 |
Delia Grinstead is married with three children and a Dr husband who works as her father did as a local GP. Feeling unrecognized and appreciates she walks off from a beach holiday and starts a new life in a little town. This is a great example of learning how she feels and thinks and later how her family coped. This author has written heaps of other books which should be worth reading.
  Annabel1954 | Jan 8, 2017 |
I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed this story and these characters. At first I was annoyed with Delia for being so self-centered, for not attempting to truly understand her loved ones, for thinking that all they said and did was a reflection of their interactions with her. But gradually & subtly she, and we, learn more about their inner lives.

By the time the book ended, I *still* wasn't sure just how it was going to... even though I read carefully, fully absorbed, savoringly. And even when I learned the ending, I had to think about it. I'm still not sure it was the ending *I* wanted, but it's the best for these characters.*

And Tyler makes it all look effortless. The theme of second chances in love is expressed in so many different characters' lives, in so many different shapes & styles, it feels like we're reading several stories at once. In that way, it somewhat resembles a Maeve Binchy book - but it's even better.

Tyler is such a good writer. All the details she drops in with such studied casualness make it easy to feel as if one knows the characters as real people. A ginger jar in the B.B Dr's waiting room, the twins' dresses the color of Crest fluoride toothpaste, buying barley for gripe water (I never heard of it before, but from those two sentences I know I want to make it).

Walking with a two year-old, at his pace, Delia felt she had never seen Bay Borough in such detail -- every plastic cup lid wheeling along the sidewalk, every sparrow pecking tinfoil in the gutter." This detail was perfect for me, because I notice litter & such one of the first times I walk through a new place. And so that's one way Delia and I differ - she's more focused on what's in front, what's significant, and I (as Tyler has made apparent) need to spend less time looking down and focusing on the negativity.

I love that Delia, at age 40, discovered the library, and started borrowing books, instead of buying trashy romances. After a bit, well before she started reading classics, she isn't satisfied by the books she used to read. And when she is caught away and needs to buy a book, (because she finds TV exhausting, as do I) she buys "something serious and believable, about poor people in Maine." (Probably [b:The Beans of Egypt, Maine|263862|The Beans of Egypt, Maine|Carolyn Chute|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389141854s/263862.jpg|464869]**)

Btw, I'll save you some research (if you want, but I'll hide it in spoilers if you don't. Very early on we learn that Delia's name is Cordelia, and when a character asks if she's "her father's Cordelia" he is referring to the youngest daughter of King Lear. And the song Delia's father sang to her as a lullaby is something I'd consider entirely inappropriate, by Johnny Cash:
Delia's Gone

Delia, oh, Delia Delia all my life
If I hadn't have shot poor
Delia I'd have had her for my wife
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

I went up to Memphis
And I met Delia there Found her in her parlor
And I tied to her chair
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

She was low down and trifling
And she was cold and mean
Kind of evil make me want to Grab my sub machine
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

First time I shot her I shot her in the side
Hard to watch her suffer
But with the second shot she died
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone

But jailer, oh, jailer Jailer,
I can't sleep 'Cause all around my bedside
I hear the patter of Delia's feet
Delia's gone, one more round Delia's gone
So if you woman's devilish
You can let her run
Or you… Full lyrics on Google Play


And probably one of my favorite passages (even though, if over-analyzed, it can certainly be rendered meaningless):
"Oh, the otherness of Delia's children never failed to entrance her! She considered it a sort of bonus gift -- a means of experiencing, up close, an entirely opposite way of being."

*Some readers' reviews question the ending. Do *not* read the spoiler if you have *any* intention of reading this book. Even after you've read it, think about the ending, come to your own conclusion, before reading what I figured out:
The idea is that she owes her first allegiance to her own family - and that she's come to realize they do need, and deserve, her. And that she does love them. Noah and Joel will be ok. Maybe even Ellie will come back - she was advised to by Delia, remember, when she confessed to D. that she wonders if she'd made a mistake, and that she missed them.

I imagine, based on clues in the text, that she'll visit Bay B. sometimes. And folks back there may visit her... after all, Nat did in his hour of need. She'll not just run away like she did the year before.

I think I was able to read carefully because I empathized. I am actually, embarrassingly, on my third marriage. I'm a slow learner - so I wanted to pay attention to this story and learn how Delia made her choice.


** Well, researching that cleared up a confusion that's been lurking in the back of my mind. [b:The Beans of Egypt, Maine|263862|The Beans of Egypt, Maine|Carolyn Chute|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389141854s/263862.jpg|464869] is *not* [b:The Bean Trees|30868|The Bean Trees (Greer Family, #1)|Barbara Kingsolver|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1362981087s/30868.jpg|1095121], though they do both have something to do with rural poverty. Yay for me figuring that out." ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cieplińska, HalinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Etsuko, NakanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flothuis, MeaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frick-Gerke, ChristineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hallén, KerstinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herrman, BjørnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Medeiros, JacquelineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pignatti, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porte, SabineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rifbjerg, IngeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soler, Carlos MillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yanḳovits, ShoshanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Delaware State Police announced early today that Cordelia F. Grinstead, wife of a Roland Park physician, has been reported missing while on holiday with her family in Bethany Beach.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
BALTIMORE WOMAN DISAPPEARS DURING FAMILY VACATION, declares the headline. Forty-year-old Delia Grinstead is last seen strolling down the Delaware shore, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To her husband and three almost-grown children, she has vanished without trace or reason. But for Delia, who feels like a tiny gnat buzzing around her family's edges, "walking away from it all" is not a premeditated act but an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting, and unimagined life. . . .
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804113475, Mass Market Paperback)

"UTTERLY COMPELLING . . . WONDERFULLY SATISFYING . . . VIRTUALLY FLAWLESS."
--Chicago Tribune

BALTIMORE WOMAN DISAPPEARS DURING FAMILY VACATION, declares the headline. Forty-year-old Delia Grinstead is last seen strolling down the Delaware shore, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To her husband and three almost-grown children, she has vanished without trace or reason. But for Delia, who feels like a tiny gnat buzzing around her family's edges, "walking away from it all" is not a premeditated act but an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting, and unimagined life. . . .

"TYLER DETAILS DELIA'S ADVENTURE WITH GREAT SKILL. . . . As so often in her earlier fiction, [she] creates distinct characters caught in poignantly funny situations. . . . Tyler writes with a clarity that makes the commonplace seem fresh and the pathetic touching."
--The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:59 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A runaway wife leaves one domestic situation, only to fall into another. She is Delia Grinstead, 40, of Baltimore, the wife of a physician and mother of three. One day she decides she's had enough of being invisible, moves to another town and gets herself a job--caring for a boy whose mother has abandoned the family. By the author of Saint Maybe.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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