First edition cover
|Media type||Print ("Hardback & "Paperback)|
|Preceded by||"Saint Maybe (1991)|
|Followed by||"A Patchwork Planet (1998)|
This is a novel about a woman, Delia Grinstead, who finds her own self-identity and battles with familial relationships. As a spontaneous act of deep sadness and anger, she walks out on her family during a beach vacation. Not only does she put herself in a dire financial situation, she also places herself in a psychologically damaging situation with her family and husband. The narrative follows her as she deals with entering the workforce and considering what is most important in her life. As she deals with these issues, she comes to terms with herself.
Cathleen Schine, in her 1995 review in The New York Times, analyzes Delia—and the dilemma Tyler has created for her—in this manner:
"If the reader is never quite sure why Delia deserts her life, neither is Delia herself. All she can say to explain herself when her family finally tracks her down is, 'I'm here because I just like the thought of beginning again from scratch.' [She] strips herself bare and exiles herself in the scrappy little town of Bay Borough, and it is she who tests the love of her family, she who waits for a declaration. The novel examines marriage -- there are all sorts of marriages Delia comes across in her adventures, good and bad -- as well as aging and independence, but finally it is a book about choice. All those years ago, Sam chose Delia, the youngest sister, the one on the right. But whom did Delia choose? Pulled yet repelled by her past, by her complicated and idiosyncratic family, and lured by a new town with a new complicated and idiosyncratic family, what will Delia choose now?"
Nat Moffat, Noah's grandfather, describes his retirement home, Senior City, to Delia: "We're organized on the vertical. Feebler we get, higher up we live. Floor below this one is hale-and-hearty....Fourth floor is total care. Nurses, beds with railings....Something about the whole setup strikes me as uncomfortably, shall we say, symbolic. See, I've always pictured life as one of those ladders you find on playground sliding boards-a sort of ladder of years where you climb higher and higher, and then, oops! you fall over the edge and others move up behind you."