Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ladder Of Years

Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler
$7.99 at Amazon.com
ISBN: 0804113475
One of the best books I've read with a female protagonist, Ladder of Years is about a woman named Delta. She's in her early 40s, has a beautiful family from Baltimore, and a pretty sweet life.
Yet she remains unfulfilled, and so while on vacation at a Delaware beach, she impulsively abandons her family wearing only a bathing suit and carrying a purse containing $500. Under these peculiar circumstances, she decides to start a new life.
She sounds dreadful, but she's actually a very kind and sensible woman. Anne Tyler (right) wrote Delta's character so perfectly that I not only understood why Delta did what she did, she actually led me to a deeper understanding of the women in my life. Hopefully you will, too.
After purchasing clothes, Delta finds an apartment and job in a shore community, mainly through resourcefulness and thrift. The police find her and she calmly explains that she is fine, didn't wish to worry anyone, and asked her family for some privacy.
This all seems a bit bizarre: you'd think she was a nut, or stupid, but she's neither. It's interesting how often in literature dad runs off, rarely is it mom as in this book. She's not a villainous character at all, just a rebel who plays no one's rules but her own.
Much of the story revolves around the people in her adopted town. They're polite yet understandably curious about the lady who was in all the newspapers (her disappearance was highly publicized by the local media). A 12-year old boy from town becomes a curious friend to her; curious since the boy is motherless and she cares for him while neglecting her own children.
Of course her family gets in touch with her eventually, asking if she ever intends to come home. She tells them she probably will.
"A woman's prerogative" is a phrase that kept coming to mind, an idea I'm beginning to grasp. A queer dude is like any other dude: I don't really understand women. Thanks for some enlightenment, Anne! Wonderfully suspenseful, this book is a treat for the senses.

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