Book Reviews

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

“… The characters in Anything Is Possible are shaped and sometimes haunted by their past, or trapped by the difficulties of present relationships and their inability to say how they feel…Strout is the opposite of a literary show-off: her writing has no ego and the sentences she creates are to serve the characters, rather than the author”.
— Elizabeth Day for The Guardian newspaper

Ok, I know I have written a review on a book by Elizabeth Strout previously (click here for Olive Kitteridge review), but I feel I have been a little restrained in not writing about Anything is Possible, Stouts latest release after My Name is Lucy Barton. This novel is, to me, just another example of the author’s brilliant writing – and I loved it! Possibly more than Lucy Barton, but definitely up there with Olive.

Anything is Possible is a sort of continuation of the story of Lucy Barton.  Although not a necessity to read prior to this one, it continues the story from a different perspective.  In Lucy Barton, protagonist Lucy is an author in New York.  She is ill and spending a week in hospital with her estranged mother.  This time spent with her mother brings back long and distant memories of her childhood spent in the small town of Amgash, Illinois. The hardship that they endured in their poverty, the abuse, their neighbours, those people that were kind, and those that weren’t.

All these people were alluded to in Lucy Barton, but in Strouts latest novel book Anything is Possible the author brings to the reader these characters and their stories.  It is sort of like a collection of short stories, but they are all held together in the book by their connection to Lucy. Her sister (bitter and resentful) and brother, the janitor at her local school who is nothing but goodness, a war veteran battling his demons, a lonely but caring woman searching for happiness, neighbours and others who remembered Lucy at school, but did not leave town or move on.  So many different characters and each one with their own complex issues, and their own memories of and love/hate of Lucy Barton.  When Lucy does appear in the book, she appears wanting to return home but then feeling like an outsider and unable to cope with all the memories the visit brings.

In this short book I found so much to enjoy and savour and her insights into human behaviour and their actions are an enlightenment to me.  So I shall continue to review and read her books.  No. 1 fan.

Find Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout in the SMSA Catalogue


Kathy Sale
Library Coordinator

Related Reviews

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth StroutOlive Kitteridge
Reviewed by Kathy Sale

My Name is Lucy Barton
Reviewed by Erika Samonte

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

When you join SMSA as member, you get a wide range of benefits.

Access to the SMSA Library

We are home to a unique collection of books, a highlight being our Mystery and Crime section.

Able to borrow from the Tom Keneally Centre

We are honoured to be the home of Tom Keneally’s personal collection of books, many of which have been used as research for his own works.

Access to member only events

Join a members group, share your passions, learn new skills, make new friends and get involved.

Access to member only activities such as members groups

We provide a variety of member only events, these are relaxed social occasions to have fun and make new friends.

Join as a Member

Subscribe to stay up-to-date