Ladders of Years — Anne Tyler
In this novel, Tyler shows us what happens when you do what most of us have imagined doing at least once on our most stressful days: walking away from our life without looking back. This is precisely what Delia Grinstead does just a few chapters into the book.
Mindlessly, she abandons her humdrum existence with her uninspiring husband and three grown children. Rather than joining the circus or doing something exceptional, Delia settles into an equally domestic routine in a small town. We then follow how an unremarkable woman can balance a new found identity with an unresolved past.
Though the topic sounds extremely heavy, Tyler is actually particularly funny in this novel — the whole premise is just on the right side of absurd and the colourful cast of characters makes for an entertaining read (special shout out to Delia’s frugal mother-in-law who had me in stitches).
As always, Tyler nestles deep into human behaviour creating a narrative that is perceptive and relatable. There’s something about the way Tyler finishes her books that always leaves me breathless. I was starting to fear that the book was so lighthearted that I would fail to connect with it emotionally but just at the last moment, Tyler packs an emotional punch that is in no way manipulative. Delia’s actions suddenly make perfect sense just through a couple of Tyler’s astute sentences. Though I didn’t fall in love with this book as I have with some other Tylers, it’s a warm and genuinely funny read that has all the author’s signature wit and charm.