“To listen to a person is not passive.”
-Elizabeth Strout, Anything is Possible
Hey guys! Not too long ago, the lovely Elke at Penguin sent me a copy of Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. It’s a beautiful looking hardback-very old-fashioned and I love that because it looks like I’ve picked it up in a vintage shop or uncovered it in an old book shop! (Side note: Does anyone else love second hand book shopping?)
Anything is Possible is set in the tiny, rural town of Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of one Lucy Barton, who left seventeen years ago and became a successful writer in New York. As you can imagine, the two existences are worlds apart, and when she returns home to visit the siblings she left behind and repair their fractured relationships, we find out whether it’s true that anything is possible.
At only 254 pages, separated into 9 chapters, each chapter takes on the viewpoint of someone different living in Amgash, bringing a collection of characters with entwining lives to life in the reader’s hands. The loss of someone in Amgash is felt, reverberating through each of these characters’ viewpoints as they all live their daily lives and reflect on the past and other characters, including the enigmatic Lucy Barton, whose return is one of the catalysts of this novel. I presumed that the entire novel would be written from the narrative of Lucy Barton, but was pleasantly surprised to find that each chapter was narrated by a different character, bringing the reader to a deeper understanding of the community in Amgash and how their lives intersect with others. For a short novel, Anything is Possible takes on a wide scope and offers the reader a deeper introspective into these characters’ histories and lives.
With themes of hope for reconciliation, family and home, Anything is Possible rings with truth that Strout’s writing brings to life with startling clarity. It is heartwarming and sad and funny in turns and I’d recommend it to fans of literary fiction who are interested in the characters at the heart of the novel.
That said, although I really appreciated this novel and thought that Elizabeth Strout was a great writer, I just didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to! So it’s 3/5 stars for me for this one, which is a shame, but it didn’t resonate with me unfortunately.
Has anyone else read this one? What did you think of it? And what are your favourite literary fiction books?