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Anything Is Possible

by Elizabeth Strout

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lucy Barton (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6641118,995 (3.93)153
"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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English (100)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Life in Amgash, IL was anything but idyllic in this run down town. An older man, Tommy reflects on the past when he worked as a janitor for the school. He remembered Lucy as a child growing up under extreme poverty and neglect. Her mother, Lydia Barton, worked as a seamstress for the more affluent people in town. Her sister and brother resented her for leaving town when she received the college scholarship. A lot of people were surprised by Lucy’s success as a writer who didn’t have to struggle anymore. This book provides more details about the characters introduced in the first book. Honestly, I enjoyed the third book only because I read the first two. Sometimes, I can deal with storylines which don’t quite come together at the end or leave me wondering. I have to say that the first book as a stand-alone fell short due to the many characters and their challenging lives. The second book weaved the characters into the background story of Lucy Barton and the factors which influenced her life choices.
( )
  marquis784 | Nov 16, 2022 |
52. Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
published: 2017
format: 245-page Kindle ebook
acquired: October 13 read: Oct 13 – Nov 7 time reading: 6:03, 1.4 mpp
rating: 3½
genre/style: Contemporary Fiction theme: Booker 2022
locations: Amgash, Illinois and a few other places
about the author: born in Maine, 1956.

The second in the Amgash quartet. I'm working toward the 3rd, [Oh, William], on the Booker 2022 longlist.

Well, this wasn‘t anywhere near as strong to me as [My Name is Lucy Barton] (the first book in the quartet). Strout basically fleshes out all the stories told in MNiLB between Lucy and her mother. So this is a short story collection, all 3rd person narrative, linked but really each story is independent, with limited character overlap. Strout does this contrast where generally normal people do or get involved in really out-there non-normal stuff. I found it very readable but also I found it a bit much, and that left a little bit of an aftertaste with me.

It has led me to appreciate [My Name is Lucy Barton] more. Lucy is relatable and has a powerful voice. And she‘s developed, the narrative is compressed and maintained, every word in that book has a purpose. Nothing wasted. And I loved the Lucy talking to me in that book. All this is missing here, in book 2, by design.

2022
https://www.librarything.com/topic/345047#7976977 ( )
  dchaikin | Nov 13, 2022 |
Series of interrelated short stories set in the fictional rural town of Amgash, Illinois. This book is a sequel to My Name Is Lucy Barton. Lucy has now written a memoir, and we find out more about her family, neighbors, and acquaintances living in her small town. It portrays unhealthy relationships which induce feelings of shame, the lingering effects of childhood traumas, and how acquired wealth (or lack thereof) can create conflict. Marriages crumble; friendships dissolve; unhappiness reigns. These are stories about unpleasant people doing unpleasant things. I did not come to care about any of them. I like the first in this series more than the second, and prefer Olive Kitteridge to both. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
This is really a companion piece to Lucy Barton, as it consists of a series of short stories about the residents of Amgash Illinois, Lucy's hometown, all set some fifteen years after Lucy herself left for college and never returned. A range of characters introduced in Lucy Barton are featured, characters who came up in Lucy's discussions with her mother during her hospitalization. The stories are interrelated, as lives in small towns often are, and memories of Lucy and her family often surface. Strauss also explores, indirectly through the memories, and occasional realizations and insights of the town residents, as well as in the explicit memories of Lucy's siblings, the abuses that took place at that time, abuse that hangs in the background in Lucy Barton but is never brought clearly into the open.

Having just reread Lucy Barton, I found the stories rewarding and at times enlightening and the themes that are explored in Lucy Barton are given a bit more direct play here: parent-child relationships, abuse, poverty, shame and the way it affects our adult choices, class divisions, and the way we never truly escape the deep imprints of our earliest experiences.

it may sound strange, but I find that Strouts is more elegantly condensed and minimalist in the longer novel form than in the short stories and I for this reader this book does not really stand on its own, ( )
  dooney | Sep 24, 2022 |
More a collection of linked short stories than a novel, this work of fiction provides the backstories of characters mentioned in Strout’s short, fragmentary novel My Name is Lucy Barton, the first in her “Amgash” series, named for the small Illinois town where the titular character grew up. That book mostly consists of conversations between the main character—a writer, who has a prolonged hospital stay after suffering complications from an appendectomy—and the mother she hasn’t seen in years, who’s come to New York City to be with her. That first novel provides some details about Lucy and her siblings’ impoverished, dysfunctional upbringing, but much is opaque; the writing rambles and occasionally verges on maudlin. I felt that the author was trying too hard to be profound about the human condition. I did not like the book.

Strout does better in the second volume, Anything is Possible, though I admit to still having some reservations, especially about one character’s noble acceptance of the fiery destruction of his dairy farm. The reader is told that Tommy Guptill (who knew and cared about the child Lucy when he later came to serve as the school janitor) believes that God was present during the blaze that took all but his family. For years afterwards, Tommy is convinced he received divine reassurance that all would be well, even as the cows he’d tended died in agony. Guptill and the reader both learn that the fire was the result of an act of vandalism by Lucy Barton’s deranged father, a veteran of World War II and sufferer of extreme PTSD In another story, Angelina Mumford, a middle-aged woman with marital troubles, travels to Italy to see her mother who, four years earlier, left a marriage of fifty-one years for a much younger Italian. We learn Angelina, her mother’s favourite child, was so named because Mary knew early on in the pregnancy that she was carrying “a little angel.” There’s more where that came from.

In the first Amgash book, one of the criticisms that chafes Strout’s writer protagonist—whom it’s hard not to see (at least in some regards) as Strout’s alter ego—is that Lucy is “too compassionate” towards her characters. I’m not sure that’s exactly my issue with Strout’s writing; it’s more a matter of unnuanced characterization and writing that is occasionally sentimental. I think the earliest stories in Anything is Possible. also suffer from these weaknesses. Those towards the end of the collection are somewhat stronger. “Sister”, which concerns Lucy’s reunion with her siblings in Amgash after many years away, struck me as a slightly edgier narrative, more realistic and convincing. “Dottie’s Bed and Breakfast”—which focuses on Lucy’s cousin’s experience with an older well-to-do couple who stay at her guest house—is an accomplished consideration of class prejudice and a certain kind of conventional marriage.

Over the past few days, I’ve been reading Strout’s “Lucy” books for the first time as a lead-up to Oh, William! which is a 2022 Booker Prize nominee. Based on what I’ve experienced of the series so far, I think it’s inferior to Strout’s novels about Olive Kitteridge. The Amgash books are accessible, undemanding reads, but Lucy is a far less compelling character than the prickly Olive. Strout’s stories about the fictional writer and the people linked to her can be facile; they’re also too effusive for my taste. Maybe the third book in the series, the Booker nominee, will be different, but I’m doubtful. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Sep 17, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Stroutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Farr, KimberlyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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.
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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.
What puzzled Abel about life was how much one forgot but then lived with anyway--like phantom limbs, he supposed.
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.
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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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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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