Saturday, 19 September 2015

52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge - Week 37 - The Ladder of Years by Ann Tyler

September and the children are all back to school and the book groups, scrap booking classes etc all start up again. First book for this season's book group was The Ladder of Years by Ann Tyler.

The book group I lead has to choose books from a supplied list. To be honest some are better than others and none of them are what we would call current books. We tend to choose a book by an author who has a new book out. Hence, we have no chance of reading A Spool of Blue Thread, reviewed by me here, but we can read The Ladder of Years. The Ladder Years was published in 1995 so anything but current. As I write this it seems A Spool of Blue Thread has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Delia Grinstead is a middle aged woman, pretty invisible to most of her family, as is obvious by the vague description issued to the police. She gets fed up and one days walks along the beach seemingly never to return. She does what we in our house refer to as "doing a Reginald Perrin"* or what today's generation will refer to as doing a "canoe man".

She doesn't actually go that far in a physical sense, but she completely reinvents herself and makes a new life. At first she avoids personal contact and physical possessions, but gradually she gathers friends and a few limited things to make her life more comfortable.

I'm stopping now as I don't want a spoiler, but you can guess what happens pretty much.
Is it an enjoyable book?
Has it lasted the last 20 years?
Is it true to life?
No but yes. At first I thought, how can that happen after that time? But you know what? It probably can. Happy or sad outcome? Depends on what side the marital bed you are on I suppose.
Did our book group enjoy Ladder of Years?
Yes we did.

*David Nobbs wrote the hilarious Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin which was made into a BBC tv series. Reggie knew he was ready to leave work when he started imagining his work colleagues as animals. One day he just faked his suicide. But, he missed his wife so came home as a tramp. RIP David Nobbs who died this month.

Reginald Perrin as played by Leonard Rossiter

*Canoe man is a real life story of a British man who inspired by Reggie Perrin faked his own death to claim the life insurance. Unlike Reggie the courts did not find this funny and he was found guilty and imprisoned.

Helen x
linking up with 52BooksIn52WeeksChallenge


  1. I do love Anne Tyler, it is so long since I read 'Ladder of Years', might be time for a reread. Also I used to love Reggie Perrin and his hippo mother in law!

  2. Well I quite enjoyed A Spool of Blue Thread, so I am now adding this one to my list of Books to Read! I am loving A Man Called Ove--no clue how I came to have it on hold (I know how to put books on hold, I just don't recall doing that for this one, nor do I recall what exactly made me put it on hold!!! Oh to be in my head...there's lots of room, ha ha). Anyhow my point is that you should maybe read it...I know it's before I met you, so you can't have recommended it, as I've been waiting since early spring for it!


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