Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler

Title: Ladder of Years
Author: Anne Tyler
ISBN: 0449910571
Publishers:Fawcett Columbine/1996
Pages: 326

This is my first book by Anne Tyler and I am going to pick up more books by her. I started it today morning and finished it a while back. It has been rightfully called a page turner.

Forty-year old Delia Grinstead has everything going for her. She is married to a well known Doctor, Sam Grinstead and she has a daughter, Susie in final year college, and two sons, Ramsay in first year college and Carroll, still in school. Socially they are very well known and do not lack anything as Sam has a good practise. She has been the perfect wife and mother but no one appreciates her. She does not feel wanted anymore.

For no apparent reason, Delia disappears during a family vacation which consists of her husband, three children, her two sisters and two twin nieces. She is supposedly wearing a bathing suit and has five hundred dollars tucked in her beach tote bag. She has walked away from her family on an impulse. She only wants a few hours for herself.

On reaching Bay Borough, she gets down from the car she had taken a ride in and somehow ends up looking for a place to live. After getting a room, she goes out to shop for clothes as she has nothing to wear, not even underwear. She even manages to land a job with a lawyer whose secretary had left without warning and he needs one immediately.

Delia is traced by her family but she is not willing to get back. Her family just leaves her as she is and that cuts into her deeply. She assumes they do not care.

Delia slowly comes out on her own. She deliberately does not think of her family. She makes good friends at Bay Burrough. She even changes her job looking after a twelve year boy Noah. It seems like the perfect family she never had.

Then one day she gets a letter from daughter Susie inviting her for her wedding. And she goes back, she finds all her family is there and they do not ask her any questions. They do not communicate. However, they behave as if she was never gone. "Mom," Carroll says, "could we just eat?" The big question is, is she home for good? Was she on a time trip?

Although I liked the book still I felt how could she just walk away and did not even think much of her family. She even starts to like the various people she meets. Her family's reaction too is very odd. They are baffled and hurt but none of them ask her to come back. Maybe they felt that it was her choice if she wants to be back or not.

The almost dissociated and passive feelings make the novel worth reading. It is a comedy, tragedy and very touching. Anne Tyler knows how to weave words.