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Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout Event

Elizabeth Strout is out with a new book that is a companion work to her Booker Nominated novel, My Name is Lucy Barton. Keep reading to see what I thought of this book.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★
Find it here: Anything is Possible

This ARC was provided by Penguin Books UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: From #1 New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout comes a brilliant latticework of fiction that recalls Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity. Written in tandem with My Name Is Lucy Barton and drawing on the small-town characters evoked there, these pages reverberate with the themes of love, loss, and hope that have drawn millions of readers to Strout s work.

“As I was writing My Name Is Lucy Barton,” Strout says, “it came to me that all the characters Lucy and her mother talked about had their own stories—of course!—and so the unfolding of their lives became tremendously important to me.”

Here, among others, are the “Pretty Nicely Girls,” now adults: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband, the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. Tommy, the janitor at the local high school, has his faith tested in an encounter with an emotionally isolated man he has come to help; a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD discovers unexpected solace in the company of a lonely innkeeper; and Lucy Barton’s sister, Vicky, struggling with feelings of abandonment and jealousy, nonetheless comes to Lucy’s aid, ratifying the deepest bonds of family.

With the stylistic brilliance and subtle power that distinguish the work of this great writer, Elizabeth Strout has created another transcendent work of fiction, with characters who will live in readers’ imaginations long after the final page is turned.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Having read and enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton last year, it was a no brainer for me to pick up this companion read.

This is a collection of interlacing short stories based around the background characters from My Name is Lucy Barton and despite my no re-reads vow I admit I have re-read Lucy Barton purely so I could let you all know whether or not you need to have read Lucy Barton to appreciate this book. The answer is that it helps to have read the first book as Lucy is mentioned constantly, however, this could also be read just as a short story collection. I would recommend reading both in whatever order you like, as the order doesn’t matter.

In this book we explore the history of characters who are only briefly mentioned in Lucy Barton. Here they get their own voices and their own stories. They are no longer reduced to gossip and anecdote. While we spend less time with each character, they are all unique and well rounded.

This book gives us a greater insight into Lucy’s childhood from the point of view of those who knew her as a child. We also learn a lot more about her immediate family and how they were viewed in their home town.

Who would like this? I would recommend this to anyone who read and enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton, those who enjoy short stories (I don’t normally but I liked this collection), and anyone who likes character-driven books.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Anything is Possible

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Interesting, I just won this in a Goodreads giveaway but didn’t realise it was a companion piece to Lucy Barton (which I haven’t yet read). So you’ve reassured me I could still enjoy it as a standalone.


    May 2, 2017
  2. I loved this book so much! I’ve been hesitating to write a review as I feel like no matter what I write, it won’t be enough.


    May 2, 2017
  3. I read a few articles over the weekend about this book including an interview with Strout where she indicated that as she was writing Lucy Barton she was already writing Anything is Possible. She’d write a section of Lucy Barton and mention a character – then go to the other side of her table where her Anything is Possible notes were placed, and begin writing at that character but within the new novel. A rather different way of writing!


    May 3, 2017

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