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Ladder of Years

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  15,049 ratings  ·  1,214 reviews
Married with three almost-grown children, Delia Grinstead has vanished without trace or reason. But for Delia, walking away from it all is an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting, and unimagined life. Chosen by "Time" magazine as One of the Ten Best Novels of the Year.
Mass Market Paperback, 406 pages
Published March 30th 1997 by Ivy Books (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  15,049 ratings  ·  1,214 reviews

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Joe Valdez
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
If Ladder of Years isn't already one of my favorite novels, The Last Picture Show and The Remains of the Day can see it in their rearview mirrors. Taken together, each novel documents the human experience at critical points, ages 18, 45 and 65, perhaps. Anne Tyler's compulsively absorbing comic drama published in 1995 fulfills the middle chapter. Membership in that age demographic is not required to become enraptured with Tyler's effortless wit, keen naturalism or existential questioning, nor is ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maryland
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
All of my reviews of Anne Tyler's books are starting to sound the same because my experiences with her books are similar in that they are always enjoyable. She is such a reliable author, and sure you might criticize her for not really being very adventurous in her stories, but there is something comforting about her work and I find that highly enjoyable. When I pick up an Anne Tyler book I know what I am getting into, but still at times I find myself surprised by things. I appreciate that you ca ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have read quite a few books by Anne Tyler now and I have really enjoyed nearly all of them. This was no exception.
I like the way this author writes, calmly, even placidly, she steadily builds up a picture of life the way her characters live it. There are no huge dramas, no histrionics, just the minutiae of daily life and the ordinariness of everyday people. Along the way we develop an understanding of our characters and start to sympathise with them and even worry about them.
Our main characte
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My ninth Tyler novel, and my second favorite (after Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant). I recently joined my neighborhood book club and suggested this as the September read after I saw that Waterstones had made it one of their summer recommendations – even though it’s from 1995. Delia Grinstead is a 40-year-old mother of three from Baltimore. On a beach vacation to Delaware, she gets fed up with her family and walks back to their rental cottage, then on a whim gets in the van with the repairman ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Helene Jeppesen
I love all of Anne Tyler's stories. They speak to me in a comforting way, and "Ladder of Years" was no exception.
In this novel, we get to meet Delia, a 40-year-old woman who all of a sudden decides to leave her family because she's had enough. She wasn't planning on leaving; she just happened to do so on the family's yearly trip to the beach.
As per usual, Anne Tyler writes strikingly about family life and everyday problems. I grew very attached to Delia, but I also felt like some of her decisi
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I thought maybe this book would be different from Tyler's others.
I guess I'm just not that into her. It's me... I think!!
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this. Engagingly written, melancholic but also fun. The ending... I did not like the ending. But I get it, I think.
Lisette Brodey
Jan 08, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
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.
Jonathan Pool
Ladder Of Years was published in 1995 when Anne Tyler was 54. Its a book thats been thrust back into the limelight in the UK, in 2018, by Waterstones (whose local bookclub selected it as my monthly read). Tyler has written many books subsequently, and her fame has grown. In reality though, the parochial Baltimore setting has changed little and nor has Tyler's writing dated in the last twenty three years.
I feel a bit conflicted. There’s nothing wrong with writing about middle life, and small comm
Nita Kohli
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another great book by Anne Tyler that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Delia lives with her doctor husband and three almost grown children. She is at that stage of her life where everyone in the family begins to take the woman - the wife, the mother for granted. Her kids don't need her as much as they did when they were actually kids. As for her married life, well, that is settled into monotonous routine and Delia is often filled with doubts if love ever existed between the two.

Like every year, Delia and
Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)
I often find myself empathising with characters in novels, but it is rare that I can so completely identify with one in the same way as I did with Delia Grinstead in Anne Tyler's Ladder Of Years. Having pulled a similar stunt myself, albeit as a teenager, I was amazed at Tyler's apparently uncanny knowledge of how I felt at the time. " How do I get out of this then?" I suppose it must not be such an unusual experience after all. Delia's reinvention of herself from Dee - fragile put-upon and over ...more
Jul 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it
This book made me never want to get married, and never have kids.
Nicci Carrera
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This gorgeous book is my first Anne Tyler, it's about a woman who walks away from her husband and adolescent children and starts a new life in a small town. I found it riveting, it's like a delayed coming of age story because she married way too young to a much older man then left and "came of age" in her own way. Her husband was patronizing, and of course her kids at that age were (seemingly) indifferent to her very existence.

I love the way Anne Tyler writes, very detailed descriptions bubblin
May 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Robert Palmer
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Delia Grinstead has a chance encounter at the grocery store which awakens her, that perhaps she’s had enough of her 20 year marriage to her husband Sam as well of her three complaining grown up children. She takes a long walk to a nearby small town and and starts over as the unattached,no nonsense Miss Grinstead , she soon finds a new web of connections in her new town.
Delia’s story is neither tragedy nor happily ever after or maybe something in between.
I must say that any story written by Anne
Asghar Abbas
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was ok

Quirky, sure. But damn, I wanted to shake all the characters until their teeth rattle. So I guess, the book was effective. Yeah, there is that.
Karon Buxton
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up
Starts so well but oh dear ! Becomes so dull ! Life’s too short , didn’t care about the protagonist so gave up and it’s on the way to the Oxfam
book shop !
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 l
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insightful examination of the ways in which personal identity and worth can be lost and regained through the choices that women make entering and leaving relationships. As always Anne Tyler makes the ordinary small moments of life significant and carefully shines a beam on what makes us human.
Lydia Bailey
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler books are a bit like life itself; nothing much seems to happen day to day/ page to page but when you look back, a whole lot has changed. It took me an age to read this (just due to life interruptions) and it is slow paced. But this is usual for AT and it takes an adjustment to get back to reading that way. It’s not my favourite plot of hers but I love her writing, her way of depicting the realities of being human in general & being female in particular.

I particularly loved her observ
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Interpretation of Delia's character 1 1 Sep 13, 2020 03:50AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correct format 3 17 Jan 20, 2019 01:23PM  
worth reading 8 41 Sep 17, 2017 03:34AM  
Bailey's/Orange W...: March 2017 Ladder of Years 10 25 Mar 28, 2017 01:03AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler 1 9 Apr 19, 2015 07:53PM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Woman abandons her family and goes and lives in quirky small town [s] 6 48 Feb 22, 2012 06:35PM  
Ladder of Years 1 49 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. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a mem ...more

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