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Ladder of Years

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  9,843 ratings  ·  776 reviews
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 rea
Paperback, Large Print, 562 pages
Published April 11th 1995 by Random House Large Print (first published 1995)
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Why I Quit Reading Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler has been around a long time and when her books first came out I read them religiously, but I finally lost interest after "Accidental Tourist." "Ladder of Years" reminded me of why.

When Tyler first started publishing in 1964, there was something fresh and unusual about her style. She didn't judge her characters; didn't seem to be using them to symbolize anything. She simply seemed to like her characters, there was affection for them on the page. At the time
Anne Tyler is my go-to author for easy, enjoyable fiction. I don't do chick lit or romance novels, so Anne Tyler is my vacation reading. (Side note: About 8 years ago, I decided I could make my fortune writing romance novels. Easy, right? My first step was to familiarize myself with the genre, so I hopped on down to B&N and bought myself a Danielle Steel book. Good grief. It was painful, even with the semi-steamy sex scenes. I made it about a third of the way through before chucking the book ...more
I did not relate well to the main character, a woman who married directly out of high school who lived in the same house her entire life and regretted never having set out on her own at any point in her life. So, I dragged through the plot, which sent the main character to start an anonymous life in a new town and abandoning her children, to find something interesting (because I read Tyler's When We Were Grownups and I remember liking it, so I thought that there must be a pearl in this book, too ...more
The idea of this book - a woman who just walks away from her family during at beach vacation - was very intriguing. Who hasn't thought about getting in a car and driving away at some point? But the direction of the story meanders and I despised the ending. It seemed like Tyler just got tired of writing it and didn't know how to resolve the plot. There was no feeling of some essential insight gained by the main character. This critical flash of insight, a culmination of all that's gone before, is ...more
Claire McAlpine
Recommended to me as I was reading her latest A Spool of Blue Thread, a line that reappears in Ladder of Years even though it was written many years before.

Delia goes for a walk while on holiday with her family and walks right out of their life. Where she ends up, she begins to create another life, another version of herself, someone she has perhaps long wished to discover, the free woman, whom she never was before.

Along the way people she meets share their thoughts, circumstances, invitations a
I believe I read this book right before Jesse and I got married. It was a long time ago.

I got it as a book club selection and fell in love instantly. There is something romantic about just quietly walking off one day, leaving it all behind to start anew. How would you get along without your comfortable life and surroundings? Could you do it on your own?

Would you go back?

Wow, I seem to like kidnappings and runaway stories. Hmmm do I have abandonment issues?

I read this book at least once a year. I
Lisette Brodey
It's been a long time since I read this book, but unfortunately it was my first Anne Tyler book and I did not care for it.

As a writer, I don't have a problem with almost any theme, because for me, it's how the story is told. Not everyone is going to like every book, no matter how well written, no matter how much mass appeal. Such is virtually impossible.

In this book, the main character, Delia Grinstead, decides to walk away from her life as she knows it. Delia is on the beach with her family an
Dec 29, 2012 Mary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
"Baltimore Woman Disappears During Family Vacation" declares the newspaper headline. Forty-year-old Cordelia Grinstead is last seen strolling along a Delaware beach, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To her husband, Sam and three almost-grown children, she has vanished without trace or reason. However, for Delia, who feels like a tiny gnat buzzing around the edge of her own family, "walking away from it all" is not a preme ...more
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I think I might have something different to say about this book 10-20 years from now.

I am a big fan of Anne Tyler's writing. Her characters are endearingly flawed and this protagonist is no exception. I don't have much good or bad to say about this book. I wish it had ended differently, but this is why I am saying that I might feel differently in 10 years. The resolution was expected. The character did the right thing, but just because a person's absence causes necessary changes, doesn't mean i
This was a light and enjoyable read. I had a hard time relating to the protagonist, though. Delia is a 40-year-old Desperate Housewife of sorts who, fueled by some serious middle-age angst, abandons her family to finally discover the kind of person she wants to be. I found myself cheering Delia on while scoffing at her unbelievably sheltered, flighty, and childlike persona. I recognize that my critiques of her say something about me. As a twenty-something graduate student, settling down to have ...more
I've had this book for over ten years and just now have gotten around to reading it. It's been a long time since I've read Anne Tyler, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ladder of Years. I couldn't put it down. I hope women today go into marriage with a little more sense and self-assurance than in the day of our protagonist, Delia, but I think there is still a lot we can learn from this story. Delia, without a conscious thought, deconstructs her life and begins it again, trying to rebuild it with a kind o ...more
I've held this up in my mind, mentally referred to it, fondly remembered it for many years and this summer returned to it for a re-read. Happy to say it absolutely lived up to the memory, was just what I needed right now, and I had actually forgotten one wonderful aspect-which is just what a good writer Anne Tyler is. Such beautifully crafted sentences, such thoughtful word choices. There's something about this book that goes straight to my heart.
:-) she had me at a five star rating
-Loved this book-
Until the last 3 pages with a Disney ending.
I 'll just pretend they did not happen ;-) !
I haven't been this conflicted about a book in years. I'm not quite sure where to begin, so perhaps I'll ramble.

This is an intriguing page-turner, centered around themes of abandonment and identity. The protagonist, Delia, is a stranger to both her family and herself, which results in a painful quest to find what is missing.

This novel runs the gamut of being quirky and humorous to being downright depressing and dark. What Delia does, and how her family responds, is just. . . sad.

Delia is, at t
Anne Tyler specializes in female characters who don't have much control over their lives. The protagonist in Ladder of Years leaves her family - just wanders down the beach - on day, sure that they won't care, and that they probably won't notice for days.

The characters are well-developed over time, and described in an amusing tone of voice. "Her hair curled at the bottom like the S-hole in a violin" (paraphrase) comes to mind first.

I particularly appreciated how the protagonist comes to terms
How can anyone leave their entire family, just walk away, during a beach vacation. She spends a year, building a new life, not visiting her family for birthdays, Christmas or any holidays. She is content with her new, emotionless, Ms. Grinstead life... I can understand the impulse, but not the action. I never warmed up to this book, despite its Eastern Shore/Maryland setting.
My first Anne Tyler book...the one that got me hooked with reading her books. I read this when I was about the same age as Delia. I thought, "Wow! She did what a lot of married women think about doing but don't have the nerve to do." How many women feel unappreciated by her family like she does?
Se vi chiedete cosa molto probabilmente succederebbe qualora un bel giorno decideste di lasciare la vostra vita per andarvene da qualche altra parte ad iniziarne una nuova, allora leggete questo romanzo e lo saprete.

Uno dei migliori della Tyler, senza dubbio.
Ladder of Years is a story about a woman (you'd want to call her a girl, she's so lively and ingenuous) who married straight out of high school and brought up three children but, for obvious reasons, didn’t have time for settling her own personality. And now she does. She escapes to a new world -- utterly fictional, terribly precarious (and, frankly, quite as boring as that of a housewife’s) but it’s only hers, and she at last gets a grip of living on her own. Her family are outraged and she her ...more
Anne Tyler really knows how to write about family dynamics and drama. This time around she tells the story of a 40+ woman, who walks away from her family while on a beach vacation. Delia's kids are grown, with only one left in high school, and she is suddenly faced with the realization she only exists through her relationships with her family. No one sees her as an individual. Would anyone really miss her or even care if she was gone?

Although a little far-fetched at times, I couldn't help but r
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patricia Devereux
I've always been delighted that Anne Tyler's novels are always a lot less fluffy than they seem, given the plot synopses on the back of my paperbacks.

The truth is, Tyler better captures more than almost any other author the inner lives of regular folks. I was surprised to find myself and constantly eager to find out what would happen to the protagonist, Delia, after she walks out on her family.

Delia's motivations are in no way cardboard, as they might be in the hands of a lesser novelist. They a
Deborah Markus
This is a book I reread often. The premise is simple: Delia Grinstead, a vaguely unhappy forty-year-old homemaker, runs away from home without any conscious intention of doing so. The tone is humorous, even upbeat, but it's impossible to lose sight of the fact that she abandons her family. Every step of her journey is an accident, a stumble; but she allows each step to carry her away. Is she forgivable? After at least a dozen readings, I still can't answer that.

I do know that the writing here i
The author has a natural writing style and just pulls you into the story. At the start of this story I totally understood Delia, I couldn't really blame her for leaving.
With that being said, by the middle of the book I was screaming in my head, "They are your children, no matter what, they are your children! You have to go back to them. No matter how old they are, they are your children." I could understand why she wasn't responding to her husband, he should have asked her to come home. Honestly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was nineteen when I first picked up Ladder of Years. Although well-versed in feminist prose at the time, I remember feeling taken aback by the concept of a modern, 90’s mother abandoning her family in Nora Helmer fashion. In a culture firmly cemented in women’s rights, how could an educated, upper-class woman entrap herself in an unwanted life? I was unnerved by Delia’s erratic behavior- of her leavening her life with nothing but a beach robe and a tote, of planting herself in a foreign town, ...more
I totally agree with another reviewer: I am plodding through this book. I almost gave up on page 75. Well, I'm halfway through, and am actually involved; but, despite liking Anne Tyler a lot in the past (I couldn't wait to get back to her), I find this book very disappointing. I thought: have I changed that much? This book is rather trite. So I don't think the writing is that good. I also don't like the main character much.I think I'm involved because I like her escape. A new place, what that me ...more
This book was a bookcrossing wild catch, found out in the open at Hatton Station near Warwick, so I was lucky to find it before the weather took it's toll.

It was total karma as the local bookcrossers then decided to make it our bookcrossing meet up bookclub book - which we will discuss at the next meeting.

This book really struck a chord with me. The way a Mum can be so invisible that when she goes missing they can't even remeber her eye and hair colour, let alone what she was wearing. ( I know t
Tracy O
Jan 16, 2010 Tracy O rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any Anne Tyler or John Updike Fan
I will show my ignorance with this review. At first, I thought Anne Tyler was riffing on King Lear with the 3 daughters (one named Cordelia) and the tension between the 3 girls over the family pile. So, I was expecting some kind of a pattern there and if there is one I wasn't able to discern it. This author's characters are always so real you feel like you'll bump into them at the grocery market - she's just so gifted in that way. And, she makes ordinary family issues so interesting - she examin ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler 1 5 Apr 19, 2015 07:53PM  
worth reading 7 29 Sep 23, 2014 11:14AM  
Ladder of Years 1 45 Feb 08, 2008 10:31AM  
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts a ...more
More about Anne Tyler...
The Accidental Tourist Breathing Lessons Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Digging to America Saint Maybe

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“But if you never did anything you couldn't undo you'd end up doing nothing at all.” 16 likes
“She saw herself riding in the passenger seat, Sam behind the wheel. Like two of those little peg people in a toy car. Husband peg, wife peg, side by side. Facing the road and not looking at each other; for why would they need to, really, having gone beyond the visible surface long ago. No hope of admiring gazes anymore, no chance of unremitting adoration. Nothing left to show but their plain, true, homely, interior selves, which were actually much richer anyhow.” 8 likes
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