By Vanessa V. Friedman
Updated April 28, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ladder of Years

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Ladder of Years Anne Tyler (Knopf, $24) Delia, the hero of Anne Tyler’s latest novel of quiet epiphanies and family seismology, is a fortysomething housewife who has lived a lifetime of defining herself through those around her-that is, until one summer day when she wanders away from her family. After hitching a ride with a roof repairman, Delia ends up in the small town of Bay Borough, Md., where she proceeds to make a new life. The strength of Tyler’s writing- the sense that her prose has been pared to only what is necessary-makes all this, and Delia’s apparently guilt-free abandonment of her family, seem perfectly understandable. In the end, when she simply picks up where she left off, it seems the only fitting conclusion. It is left to Delia’s husband to note the bizarreness of the situation and to question what will happen to her parallel family in Bay Borough. The question is never answered, and it rankles when you close the book, a messy ending just beyond the other, neater, one. A- -Vanessa V. Friedman

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Ladder of Years

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