NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by #1 bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.
Winner of The Story Prize • A Washington Post and New York Times Notable Book • One of USA Today’s top 10 books of the year
Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.
Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times bestseller) returns to visit her siblings after seventeen years of absence.
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.
Praise for Anything Is Possible
“When Elizabeth Strout is on her game, is there anybody better? . . . This is a generous, wry book about everyday lives, and Strout crawls so far inside her characters you feel you inhabit them. . . . This is a book that earns its title. Try reading it without tears, or wonder.”—USA Today (four stars)
“Readers who loved My Name Is Lucy Barton . . . are in for a real treat. . . . Strout is a master of the story cycle form. . . . She paints cumulative portraits of the heartache and soul of small-town America by giving each of her characters a turn under her sympathetic spotlight.”—NPR
“These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else.”—The Washington Post
“In this wise and accomplished book, pain and healing exist in perpetual dependence, like feuding siblings.”—The Wall Street Journal
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."
Anything is Possible
I love that each chapter of this book reads like a short story; and each story is a treasure.
I read her “Olive” books first and loved them. I then read “ I am Lucy Barton” and now this follow-up. I found them both to be exhausting. The continuous sentence breaks and thoughts that become so difficult to keep straight was manic. The upside is that I like the stories and the characters.
I loved this book. Growing up in small-town America, I strongly identified with Strout’s portrayal of the quiet repression’s, undercurrents, and struggles of people in “forgotten” places. The series of vignettes implies more than it says, and strikes an excellent balance of humour, hope, and frustrated yearning. By far the best book I read this last year.