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Anything Is Possible

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lucy Barton (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9271238,687 (3.93)157
"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"--Amazon.com.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
I expect I'll be the odd one out on this book. While I see glowing accolates and many 4.5 and 5 star reviews, I just had a hard time connecting with it. I cannot put my finger on the exact reason. Strout's [b:My Name Is Lucy Barton|25893709|My Name Is Lucy Barton|Elizabeth Strout|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1450653428s/25893709.jpg|45584499] was extraordinary, and this book is written in a similar vein. Strout takes us to Lucy's hometown where we meet people from her past as well as her siblings. Every person is so completely *human* -- flawed, imperfect, and in this book, profoundly sad (perhaps that was my issue. Right book, wrong time. Perhaps I just couldn't handle the deep melancholy that pervades the book right now).

Strout is one of America's best living writers, but I found myself avoiding this book rather than savoring it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for a galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  jj24 | May 27, 2024 |
rabck from rubyrebel; Short stories, all set in or related to Amgash, Illinois. with the people in each kind of strung together due to current events or their childhood. Then title comes from the ending of Abel Blaine's story - "Anything is Possible" he thinks as he's rushed off to the hospital after suffering another heart attack. ( )
  nancynova | May 20, 2024 |
I haven't read 'My Name is Lucy Barton', but I sense this may not matter. Lucy features in this short story collection, as does her home town and community of Amgash, Illinois. Each story here features someone in the locality, and is at least loosely connected with one of more of the other characters. All of them are in some way damaged and flawed, and that this became something of a theme gave the book a certain greyness, a certain predictability. I've been a week getting round to writing this review, and I find I have little recall of the stories in this book. It's well written: Strout has an eye for the telling detail, and an ear for conversation. But I'm now in no hurry to read 'My Name is Lucy Barton'. ( )
  Margaret09 | Apr 15, 2024 |
A fine collection of short stories featuring characters mentioned in Strout’s novel My Name is Lucy Barton. Beautifully written and, for me, far more engaging than the novel as the stories are more unexpected and wonderfully varied.
As well as tenderness and humour, Strout can maintain tension in these seemingly simple stories, just because you as a reader are unsure where Strout wants to take you. For example, the final story about Abel Blaine (Lucy Barton’s cousin) should (you think) mirror the goodwill of the play of a Dickensian A Christmas Carol, but in about 30 pages Strout creates multiple ways in which the story might develop. ( )
  CarltonC | Oct 27, 2023 |
"The Barton family had been outcasts, even in a town like Amgash, their extreme poverty and strangeness making this so. The oldest child, a man named Pete, lived alone there now, the middle child was two towns away, and the youngest, Lucy Barton, had fled many years ago, and had ended up living in New York City."

Elizabeth Strout’s Anything Is Possible is a lovely collection of nine stories revolving around characters mentioned in her novel My Name is Lucy Barton. These interrelated stories are set in the small run-down town of Amgash, Illinois, Lucy Barton’s hometown. Though many of the characters have moved on from Amgash the events in their past have left an indelible mark on their lives and as they recall significant memories they are all taken back to their life in Amgash. Most of the characters will sound familiar on account of them being mentioned in the conversations between Lucy and her mother in the previous novel. Only one of the stories, Sister, features Lucy Barton and her siblings as the main characters but we get to know more about Lucy’s townspeople such as Vietnam War veteran Charlie Macauley ( The Hit-Thumb Theory), the Nicely family (Windmills) and the Mumford family( Mississippi Mary), her school janitor, Tommy Guptill ( The Sign), and her cousins, Abel Blaine (Gift) and Dottie (Dottie’s Bed and Breakfast. As we learn more about the lives, relationships, backstories and struggles of some of the past and present residents of Amgash, each of their stories contributes to a better understanding of Lucy Barton and her story.

Elizabeth Strout’s writing is elegant, her characters are real and relatable and her prose is beautiful and the narrative flows smoothly. The structure and style of this collection are similar to the author’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. Though many of these stories are heartbreaking and revolve around unhappy moments and memories, touching upon themes such as poverty, parental neglect, PTSD, infidelity and trauma, the author writes with compassion and a great understanding of human emotions and complex relationships.

I strongly recommend reading My Name is Lucy Barton before this collection of stories to understand how and where these stories connect to Lucy and her story. ( )
  srms.reads | Sep 4, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Stroutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Farr, KimberlyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Dedication
For my brother, Jon Strout
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Tommy Guptill had once owned a dairy farm, which he'd inherited from his father, and which was about two miles from the town of Amgash, Illinois.
Quotations
This was the skin that protected you from the world--this loving of another person you shared your life with.
And you have always taken up so much space in my heart that it has sometimes felt to be a burden.
Right behind it was the last of the day's full light; generously, the colors from the setting sun sprayed upward over the open sky.
Panic, like a large minnow darting upstream, moved back and forth inside him.
He observed the way her eyes would not look at him directly, and he thought that he hated dishonesty—or lack of courage—more than anything.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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"--Amazon.com.

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Book description
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.

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.
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