Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Book Review - Ladder of the Years; Anne Tyler

 

1995 - Vintage
(eBook downloaded from the library)

I love the stories Anne Tyler creates with everyday people and towns and places that are so easy to envision.  It recently came to my attention that I missed several of her earliest books - note to self to remedy that in 2022. Ladder of the Years was one of those books.

Cordelia (Delia) Grinstead is a Baltimore housewife and mother to three almost adult children.  Married 20+ years, her husband, Sam is a doctor and, at least to outsiders and friends it appears the couple has a good life. Sometimes she feels invisible -- or as she describes it --QUOTE--sometimes she felt like a tiny gnat around her family's edges.

On an annual family beach vacation a couple things happen that makes her do something on the spur of the moment - dressed in her swimsuit, beach coverup and carrying a beach bag containing $500 of vacation money, she hitches a ride from a repairman to Bay Borough where, without saying a word to her family, she rents a room, buys a few essentials and gets a job in a law office.

Eventually, things happen and of course, Delia must make a decision whether to continue with her new life or return to the life she left behind.

QUOTE---"The thing of it is, you ask yourself enough questions--was it this I did wrong, was it that? --and you get to believe you did it ALL wrong. Your whole damn life. But now that I'm nearing the end of it, I seem to be going too fast to stop and change.  I'm just SKIDDING to the end of it."

QUOTE--"The thing that attracts you to someone can end up putting you off."

My Thoughts - There was much to love about this novel for me: marriage, motherhood, expectations and even (2) cats and, bonus - the dream of starting a new life just for you (yes, have had that dream.)  I loved the people she met and the new life she created in her small town whether it was her landlady who became a friend, the folks at the diner where she would stop to eat, the border at the rooming house where she lived, her almost daily library visits and so much more.  This would have been an almost perfect read for me but, I felt the ending was too rushed.  Still, I highly recommend this one.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

24 comments:

  1. That sounds like a very good story!

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  2. Anne Tyler is a favorite writer of mine.

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    1. Me too Deb - I actually have several must read authors - but love that her books are just about every day people.

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  3. I read this years and years ago and still think of it on occasion. Delia's escape from her "perfectly fine" life in which she felt invisible and the courage of taking off and trying on a new life fascinated me. Maybe most of us at times have considered running away--not from something tragic or frightening--but from a life that feels unfulfilled. Delia, who seemed so practical, taking that risk just floored me, but I cheered her on. :)

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    1. Jen, me as well - to go from a had-it-all in terms of security and material possessions to starting anew with just $500 and doing fine.

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  4. I added this one to my reading queue when I realized I had missed it. After reading your review, I may have to move it forward a few places.

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  5. I read this one a long time ago too. Honestly don't remember too much about my reaction, but your review made me get a glimmer of remembrance regarding the story. A new life with only $500? Seems a little scary to me, but as you say, she's doing fine.

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    1. Yes, I know even though the book was written 27 years ago.

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  6. It's been forever since I've read one of Anne Tyler's books. And I don't think I ever read this one. But I like the sound of it and Delia and her impulsive escape from her regular life. I'll have to check this one out. :)

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    1. I would like to think you would enjoy this one as much as I did.

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  7. I really need to give Anne Tyler's books a try.

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  8. I looked back on my blog and see that I read this in 1998. No, I wasn't blogging back then, obviously, but I posted one of my "Looking Back" reviews for the book. I gave it a 4-star rating, but I sure don't remember anything about it now!

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    1. LOL - that happens to me as well Les, but this one resonated with me at times.

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  9. Reading your review reminded me of how much I enjoyed this book! I think I mentioned that it was the inaugural selection when our playgroup transformed into a book club in the mid/late 90s. Tyler has a new novel coming out this spring... already looking forward to it!

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    1. How cool that this particular Tyler book was a first for your play/book group. Yes, it initially released in 1995. I could see it making a great discussion book.

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  10. I'll bet most of us have fantasized about walking away and setting up a simpler life somewhere else (but, of course, not really being all that serious about the idea). How fun to read a book about someone who does it well.

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    1. True Helen, but how many would leave all the comforts of home for (1) room and shared bath at a rooming house? LOL - not my kind of new start.

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  11. I am looking forward to Anne Tyler's new one French Braid soon. Maybe she is a cat person?!

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  12. Love Anne Tyler and could have sworn I read this one but Goodreads says no. Hm.

    stacy

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