“… The characters in Anything Is Possible are shaped and sometimes haunted by their past, or trapped by the difficulties of present relationships and their inability to say how they feel…Strout is the opposite of a literary show-off: her writing has no ego and the sentences she creates are to serve the characters, rather than the author”.
— Elizabeth Day for The Guardian newspaper
Ok, I know I have written a review on a book by Elizabeth Strout previously (click here for Olive Kitteridge review), but I feel I have been a little restrained in not writing about Anything is Possible, Stouts latest release after My Name is Lucy Barton. This novel is, to me, just another example of the author’s brilliant writing – and I loved it! Possibly more than Lucy Barton, but definitely up there with Olive.
Anything is Possible is a sort of continuation of the story of Lucy Barton. Although not a necessity to read prior to this one, it continues the story from a different perspective. In Lucy Barton, protagonist Lucy is an author in New York. She is ill and spending a week in hospital with her estranged mother. This time spent with her mother brings back long and distant memories of her childhood spent in the small town of Amgash, Illinois. The hardship that they endured in their poverty, the abuse, their neighbours, those people that were kind, and those that weren’t.
All these people were alluded to in Lucy Barton, but in Strouts latest novel book Anything is Possible the author brings to the reader these characters and their stories. It is sort of like a collection of short stories, but they are all held together in the book by their connection to Lucy. Her sister (bitter and resentful) and brother, the janitor at her local school who is nothing but goodness, a war veteran battling his demons, a lonely but caring woman searching for happiness, neighbours and others who remembered Lucy at school, but did not leave town or move on. So many different characters and each one with their own complex issues, and their own memories of and love/hate of Lucy Barton. When Lucy does appear in the book, she appears wanting to return home but then feeling like an outsider and unable to cope with all the memories the visit brings.
In this short book I found so much to enjoy and savour and her insights into human behaviour and their actions are an enlightenment to me. So I shall continue to review and read her books. No. 1 fan.
Reviewed by Kathy Sale
My Name is Lucy Barton
Reviewed by Erika Samonte