THE INTENTIONAL TOURIST

ANNE TYLER PUTS HER COMIC SPIN ON A BORED HOUSEWIFE'S ESCAPE

When the sheer dailiness of ordinary life seems terminally humdrum, who has not entertained the fantasy? Just cut and run. Go somewhere else, find a clean slate, and start over. And this time, try to get it right. That relatively few people actually follow up on this impulse may testify to the power of inertia or the naggings of conscience, or to some tedious combination of both.

Thanks to the magic of Anne Tyler's fiction, Delia Grinstead, the heroine of Ladder of Years (Knopf; 326 pages; $24), is largely freed from such constraints. Married straight out of high school to a...

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