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Monday, December 18, 2006

Ladder of Years

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

September 17, 2005

I found "Ladder of Years" to be deeply unsatisfying. My basic problem is the same one I had with Tyler's later "Amateur Marriage" in that everything in "Ladder of Years" seems to be cobbled together from earlier works. I haven't read all of Tyler's works, but this one seems mostly an amalgamation of "The Accidental Tourist" and "Breathing Lessons" in that Delia is pretty much Maggie Moran from "Breathing Lessons" who ends up leaving her spouse and living with someone else like Macon Leary in "Accidental Tourist." So at the end of the day I feel I haven't seen anything new, which I find very disappointing.

The story on its own is the typically plodding Tyler yarn. Delia gets fed up with her husband, kids, and relatives during a trip to Ocean City. Finally she leaves the beach and gets a ride to Bay Borough, Maryland, starting a new life there as Miss Grinstead. Eventually she becomes the "live-in woman" for Joel the school principal and his 13-year-old son Noah. She maybe starts to fall for Joe when she goes to her daughter's wedding to find her family falling apart. And pretty much that's where the book leaves off.

It's unclear to me what Delia plans to do from there. Is she going back to Bay Borough and stay with Joel? Is she going to stay with her husband and children? Is she going somewhere else entirely to start over yet again? I prefer to believe the first option, but there is no concrete resolution, which always annoys me. These "non-endings" as I call them I always find irritating.

My question to wrtiers everywhere is this: why do you write the story if you have no intention of ENDING the story? What is the point in taking me along through 326 pages and then just leave me hanging?

Well anyway, as I said before, I didn't feel I got anything NEW from this book that I hadn't already seen in Tyler's other works. There are all the Tyler staples of Baltimore, the scatter-brained wife, the stoic husband, and the spinster sister living with the family. So much of the story is composed of these staples that Tyler injects very little that is NEW.

However, if you haven't read Tyler before it's not a bad place to start. As I said earlier, the pace is plodding but you do feel emotionally attached to Delia so you want to find out what's going to happen to her.

If you have read Tyler's other books, then I think you can just skip this rerun.

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