Anything is Possible
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018
From the No. 1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton
Anything is Possible tells the story of the inhabitants of rural, dusty Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer who finally returns, after seventeen years of absence, to visit the siblings she left behind.
Reverberating with the deep bonds of family, and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout's place as one of America's most respected and cherished authors.
'A terrific writer' Zadie Smith
'A superbly gifted storyteller and a craftswoman in a league of her own' Hilary Mantel
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
All the luminous stories that make up Anything Is Possible have some connection to the main character of Elizabeth Strout’s 2016 bestseller, My Name Is Lucy Barton. It’s fun to discover these links—some obvious, some more tenuous—but you don’t need to have read Lucy to be completely absorbed in these rural and small-town vignettes. They burst with wistfulness and heartache, but are also exquisitely drawn portraits of mostly decent people struggling to overcome adversity and connect with their neighbors. It’s an engaging theme that feels particularly timely and wonderful.
In her latest work, Strout achieves new levels of masterful storytelling. Damaged lives can be redeemed but, as she eloquently demonstrates in this powerful, sometimes shocking, often emotionally wrenching novel, the emotional scars can last forever. If some readers felt that Strout's previous novel, My Name Is Lucy Barton, was too subtle and oblique about Lucy's hellish childhood, here Strout reveals specific details of the horrible circumstances in which Lucy and her siblings were raised, as recollected by some of the inhabitants of Amgash, Ill., and the surrounding communities. Using the novel-in-stories format of Olive Kitteridge, Strout again proves Tolstoy's observation that each family is unhappy in its own way. Except for one episode in which Lucy herself comes back for a tortured sibling reunion, she is the absent but omnipresent thread that weaves among the dozen or so characters who are have suffered secret misery and are longing for love and understanding. Some are lucky: one of the five Mumford sisters reunites with her runaway mother in Italy; another, an angry young girl, is suddenly able to see the way to a brighter future. Others, including a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and a rich woman who is complicit in her husband's depraved behavior survive despite the baggage of tortured memories. "They had grown up on shame; it was the nutrient of their soil," one character acknowledges. Strout's prose is pared down, yet rich with implication. It is left for the character in the final episode, Lucy's cousin Abel, who despite a similarly deprived childhood is now a happy and successful business executive, husband, father, and grandfather, to observe, in what may be his final moments, that "Anything was possible for anyone."