Friday, October 29, 2010

Ladder of Years- by Anne Tyler

Ladder of Years- by Anne Tyler

As I was sitting a month or so ago, twiddling my thumbs at Parent-Teacher Conferences, since I rarely have parents show up, one of my assistant principals came down to my room to chat with me. We somehow got started talking about books and our family lives and she recommended this book to me. She said it was one of her favorites, and promptly sent a student with a copy for me to borrow the next day. I'm always intrigued by book recommendations, especially since I get them surprisingly rarely, so I dove in and hoped for the best.

Ladder of Years features Delia (coincidentally the name that I chose for myself in high school Spanish class), a middle-aged housewife who feels rather, well, beige about her life. She married Sam, the doctor set to take over her father's practice, right out of high school, promptly had three children and now that her kids are mostly grown and her husband completely settled in his practice, she doesn't have much to do with her time.

The book opens at the grocery store, where an attractive young man asks Delia to pretend to be his girlfriend so he doesn't have to encounter his estranged wife and her new boyfriend. She is secretly thrilled by this little escapade and when she later bumps into him on the street, begins a clandestine, though small affair. Her building dissatisfaction with her home life comes to a head when she is with her extended family on their annual trip to the beach. She's fed up, so she picks up her beach tote and walks away without ever looking back.

Now, in theory, I should have loved this book. I have upon many occasions, since the age of oh... nine or so, fantasized about simply running away from my life to try something new. Not that my life is particularly dissatisfying, or bad in any way, but there's just something about how beautifully free I would feel walking away from it all. So, I should have liked this book. I should have related to Delia and her plight to start from scratch. I should have, but I didn't. At all. I was rather disappointed by the whole thing. The writing was lovely, but I had a really hard time getting a sense of time in the setting. The book itself was published in 1995, but the social morays and way people acted felt more like 1950 something. But, then there would be other indications that it was more recent, computers, medical stuff, etc. It probably shouldn't have bothered me as much as it did, but I just felt lost in time. The characters also felt flat to me. Now, that may have been the point, showing how Delia was really nothing in her world, felt see-through, blah, blah, blah. It still didn't work. The plot was meh and the end really left me wanting something more substantial.

I may not have connected as well to this book as the middle aged housewives this book was geared towards would have, but who knows. It just didn't speak to me. It was interesting enough, I guess. I did keep turning the pages because I wanted to see what was going to happen to Delia, but it's not a book that's going to stick with me. So, I guess, in the end, I would probably recommend this book to anyone who has kids, a husband and not much else on their reading list. Otherwise... skip it.

Read my other reviews HERE.

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