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Ladder of Years

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  12,299 Ratings  ·  954 Reviews
This entrancing and deeply searching novel will touch a nerve in every reader. Delia Grinstead, 40-year-old mother of three almost-grown children, on a sudden impulse, walks away from her marriage, hitches a ride into the unknown, and settles in a strange new town. But soon after she begins her impersonal, unencumbered new life, fresh responsibilities inevitably accumulate ...more
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published April 11th 1995 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 1995)
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Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
helen the bookowl
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
Oct 28, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
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!!
Nita Kohli
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lisette Brodey
Jan 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Claire McAlpine
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Jane
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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?
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
:-) 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 ;-) !
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
Aug 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women
Started off well with some nice comic moments but soon became more and more far fetched and lacking in direction and momentum. Ultimately it was difficult to understand what had motivated the author to write this novel.
Asghar Abbas

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.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Ladder of Years is definitely one of the more quirky of Tyler’s books. I would put it in the same pile as Back When We Were Grownups rather than on the pile with her more overtly poignant books, such as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.

The story is about 40 year old Delia, who married young, had children young and at 40 spontaneously decides on a family vacation to walk down the beach and simply not come back (a threat my mother made often but never followed through on). However, Delia ultimat
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Ladder of Years ist die Geschichte von Delia, die auf über 300 Seiten keinerlei Entwicklung durchmacht. Es kommen auch andere Menschen vor, die sich ebenfalls nicht entwickeln und die ich deshalb nicht extra aufzähle. Es gibt auch zwei Katzen, Vernon und George, die sind die Figuren mit den meisten überraschenden Wendungen. Vernon versteckt sich z.B. mal unterm Bett, was niemand vermutet hätte.
Während die Personen sich nicht entwickeln, gehen sie schwimmen, lesen und essen im immer gleichen Dine
Kathe Pines
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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
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“But if you never did anything you couldn't undo you'd end up doing nothing at all.” 23 likes
“The very thing that attracts you to someone can end up putting you off.” 10 likes
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