Anything is possible by Elizabeth Strout – book review

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Anything is possible – it’s a great book title and a great motto for life, isn’t it? It’s similar to my mantra last year when we renovated our home – there’s always a way.

This book has a lovely textured cover with a green edging around the spine which makes it look elegant. But it’s the elegant writing inside the covers which makes it a wonderful read.

I didn’t know anything about Pulitzer prize-winning Elizabeth Strout before I read this book, but as soon as I finished it, I tried to borrow her earlier books from the library. There are fifteen reserves for her My name is Lucy Barton!

Even with just over five months of reading pleasure before the end of the year, I’m pretty sure this book will make it into my top ten books for the year.

Anything is possible reads almost like a collection of short stories, except that all the characters are linked together. They all live, or have lived in the rural town of Amgash, Illinois. Strout writes with perception and insight, which made me care about all her characters and the various tangled threads of their lives. When I read each chapter, I felt fully invested in each character, no matter how small or large their story.

With a fangirl crush, I headed to Strout’s website to learn more about her. There are quite a few interviews which offer a glimpse into her writing process. In an interview with Waterstones she says:

I would say most of my fiction is drawn from that very tension of the inner life versus the outer life.  We all live with some kind of inner life, and it is often not known to others, and so their perceptions of us are just partly real. My job as a fiction writer is to show that strange relationship between peoples’ perceptions of others and the inner reality a person lives with daily.

Even though the above quote refers to Strout’s earlier book, My name is Lucy Barton, it’s appropriate for Anything is possible. While there is one main character in each chapter, each character is referred to at least once in another character’s story. So as a reader, you see the inner world of each character, as well as how they are viewed by another character in their town. Anything is possible is a companion book to My name is Lucy Barton, but I don’t think it matters which order you read them in – particularly if your library is anything like mine and you have to wait for Lucy Barton!

Strout writes of her book – I hope by reading Anything is Possible you are able for a few moments to transcend the life you are living and to understand – and see – people who may live very differently, but who have similar desires for love and safety and the friendship of others, in whatever form that may take.

This book would be a fabulous bookclub book – so much to discuss.

6 comments

  1. Lucy has been on my list for 2017, so I’m now eagerly going to add this to my collection for 2018. Anything is possible, that’s true! Thanks for the great recommendation, Karen.

  2. I loved My Name is Lucy Barton. I’ve currently loaned it to a friend but happy to pass it on to you – think I should get it back this week. It’s a quick read. My mum bought Anything is Possible after reading My Name is Lucy Barton and it’s on both of our ‘to read’ lists.

    1. We do have good taste in books, don’t we Carolyn! Thanks so much for your offer – the library emailed me yesterday – it’s available now for me!

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