This is a "coming of age" of a woman who nearly waited too long. How a woman seeks and finds her own worth is a marvel of terrific writing. This IS NOT a "chick book". It is for anyone, anywhere who has ever asked themselves very hard questions - with no idea how to answer them.
A woman leaves he family on a spur of the moment decision, with very little money, and wearing only a bathing suit. A thoughtful book about a subject that every mother probably ponders at some point in life.
I never miss an Anne Tyler book. Published in 1995, this is the story of a wife and mother of three almost-grown children who on a sudden impulse walks away from a family vacation and the sense of being expendable that it has engendered. She finds a small town that attracts her, rents a room, and settles in to see what she can make happen next. An intriguing look into what might have happened if we'd ever had the nerve to do it...
Wow....second novel in a row that I have read and the endings make no sense. This one was at the point of culmination when the story ended. The resolution, which was NOT inevitable but certainly the most likely, occurred. But why? It's as if the author had this book "almost done & stashed way away" for a long time and the publisher was pressing for a manuscript so Ms. Tyler picked it up, wrote about 1200 words, and called it done. Good grief. The tone changed that abruptly.
Another irritation in the book -- "anyhow." The phraseology caught my attention early b/c it's a dialect phraseology. The more common usage is "anyway." Well, "anyhow" appeared all the time. Enough of the anyhow. It was not infrequently used.
The actual story kept me reading until the last 30 pages when I got bored. Delia, the main character, lost whatever luster she had by that time. Different circumstances, but I separated from my family at about the same age, so I thought I could relate. But I don't think Delia ever gained any insight into herself in this book. She just breathed air on a daily basis....
But I did finish reading the book. Had to give Delia that chance to tell her story. Not sure why...
Delia's impulse to escape her disapproving physician husband and three surly children turns into an adventure that sweeps her from her staid Baltimore orbit into a new existence as Ms. Grinstead, spinster, in the Delaware community of Bay Borough. It's the unexamined life that's Delia's problem, and when she finally strips away layers of hurt, resentment, guilt and anger, she confronts her inner self and begins to deal with the chronic insecurity that has kept her childlike, flighty and dependent. Gradually, she becomes part of her new community, and has the courage to take a job caring for Noah Miller, an appealing 12-year-old whose mother has also run away from home and family. Over the course of a year, Delia discards her timorous personality and gains an understanding of the person she wants to be. One of the satisfactions of this novel is Tyler's evocation of typical family life. While in the past some of her characters have been too eccentric or fey, Delia and her family and friends all have both feet planted in the real world, even if their heads and hearts are sometimes elsewhere. Some readers may have difficulty accepting Delia's ability to absent herself from her children, but Tyler engages our sympathy and growing respect for a character who finally realizes that "the ladder of years" is a time trip to the future.
At 40, Delia Grinstead seems more likely to have an attack of anxiety, or of whimsy, than to become a runaway wife. Yet, in Tyler's 13th beguiling novel, Delia's impulse to escape her disapproving physician husband and three surly children turns into an adventure that sweeps her from her staid Baltimore orbit into a new existence as Ms. Grinstead, spinster, in the Delaware community of Bay Borough. It's the unexamined life that's Delia's problem, and when she finally strips away layers of hurt, resentment, guilt and anger, she confronts her inner self and begins to deal with the chronic insecurity that has kept her childlike, flighty and dependent. Gradually, she becomes part of her new community, and has the courage to take a job caring for Noah Miller, an appealing 12-year-old whose mother has also run away from home and family. Over the course of a year, Delia discards her timorous personality and gains an understanding of the person she wants to be.
This was my first Anne Tyler novel and I really enjoyed it. I will be reading more of her novels. I recommend it this book if you enjoy a good story about a strong woman and her struggle to find herself.
Great story line of woman who "runs away" from her life and starts fresh (who hasn't wanted to take that route at some point in their lives?!) Ending a little undeveloped. Nice book to take to the beach for a light read!
I have yet to read anything by her that I have not loved immediately. This is the story a woman who faces a midlife crisis and feels unappreciated (sound familiar ladies) by her family. She leaves town while they are family vacation. Full of surprises.
The storyline was hard to digest as to why a mother would just walk out on her 3 children....even though they were almost grown. The author states the "woman leaves her family only to find in the end that she is just trying to figure out how to say good-bye when they leave her". Overall the book was an enjoyable read even though not too realistic in my opinion.
An excellent story of what happens when a woman chooses to re-create her life in the middle of it. Anne Tyler has a real gift for creating realistic characters with whom the reader can immediately identify.
I loved this story when I read it back in the early 90s about a housewife who leaves home, dressed only in a swimsuit and her beachbag. She is done with that life and ready for another. I lived vicariously through those pages.
"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 premeditated act but an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting and unencumbered life.
In a nearby town, Delia reinvents herself - getting her first job, finding her first place, and buying her first business suit. She becomes a serious and independent-minded woman with no ties. However, soon after Delia begins her exciting, unencumbered life, fresh responsibilities inevitably accumulate.
I really enjoyed this story. It drew me in completely and I was curious to see how the story would eventually turn out for all the characters. I give this book an A+! and look forward to reading more books by Anne Tyler.
Anonymous reviewed Ladder of Years; a novel (Abridged audiocassettes) on
Excellent read. I am always intrigued by the idea of suddenly leaving without any specific goal, no preparation and with nothing much in the way of possessions. Anne Tyler has a unique style of writing which held me in its grip throughout. A marvelous novel.
Large Print Edition
Once again she dazzles us with her magic. "One cannot reasonably expect fiction to be much better than this." The story of a 40-year-old woman with three almost-grown children, who on a sudden impulse walks away from her marriage, hitches a ride into the unknown, and settles in a strange new town. And so Delia begins her new, impersonal life as Ms. Grinstead. But, inevitably the world crowds in. New friends, new responsibilities, accumulate - from a stray cat who craves a home to a sad, deserted husband and his little boy who need her to fill a hole in their lives. "Beautiful, incandescent, heartvreaking, and exhilarating...It leaves one aching with pleasure and pain."
I enjoyed this book but thought the ending was a little weak - and a little disappointing. It is a very light weight read - not too believable - requiring not much concentraton, so an ideal book for the end of the day, or on vacation.
From Library Journal
"Delia Grinstead begins a new life... by simply walking away from her family's vacation at the beach.
She spends the next year reinventing herself, no longer the doctor's faithful and timid wife, the dutiful mother of three, the practical sister.
Finally, she discovers a life of her own; for the first time she is independent, away from the home and practice her husband inherited from her father.
The detachment the author puts Delia through is common Tyler territory: at times surprising, at times perfectly mundane as Delia re-creates a life and an identity...Tyler fans will appreciate the familiar twists on the commonplace and the author's endearing characters."
Baltimore woman disappears during family vacation, declares 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.
One summer day on a sudden impulse, Cordelia quietly walks away from her marriage, her family and her domestic routine of more than 20 years, closes the door behind her, hitches a ride to the unknown, and settles in a strange new town to start a whole new life.