I’m doing book reviews on my blog in an effort to read all the books I already own. This week I’m reviewing Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.
Where it came from….
I went to the AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) Conference this past February in Washington, DC. I got a lot of really awesome books and this one came from a great deal where I bought one book from a local bookstore (Prose and Politics) and then got a free advanced reader copy of one of several books from Random House. I chose this one. I honestly can’t remember why I chose it — I think someone said to me “Elizabeth Strout is awesome!” and so I picked it. I hadn’t read anything by her before and thought that I should.
So the plot…
This is a novel-in-stories. I’ve never read anything by Elizabeth Strout before, but apparently this is the companion novel to her book My Name is Lucy Barton. It follows the lives of many different people that live in or around the small town where Lucy Barton grew up, and all of them are connected somehow to Lucy Barton, whether directly or indirectly.
The stories follow a wide range of characters, from the janitor at the school that Lucy Barton attended to a 78 year old woman who left her 51-year marriage to move to Italy and marry an Italian man 20 years younger than her, to an actress that grew up in a tiny small town, poor, whose family discovered when their father got dementia that he was homosexual.
What did you think of it?
I really loved this book. Every single character was interesting to me. I loved reading about Dottie, who left her husband and opened her own successful B&B, and her brother, Abel, who went on a the hunt for a plastic pony his grand daughter had left in the theater when they went to see A Christmas Carol together. I loved reading about Patty, who married someone that would not have sex with her (she didn’t want it, either), and Mary, the woman who waited dutifully by her husband’s side while he suffered through brain cancer (all the while knowing he had cheated on her for years) before she left him to marry the man she loved in Italy.
They were such wonderful, complicated characters. Their stories just featured them in their everyday lives. The pain of living and the good things, too. These were my kind of short stories, where the reader gets to really explore the characters and their motivations. I loved turning back to other stories to remember where the character of the current story had originally appeared in the book.
It was just a lot of fun to read, and really enjoyable. A great book, truly, overall. I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy reading short stories. I ordered Olive Kitteredge from the library as soon as I finished it, and I can’t wait to read that as well.
Will I put it back on the shelf?
Absolutely. Wouldn’t dream of getting rid of this book. I really think that it’s something I’ll turn back to as a reference in my own writing.
Thanks for reading!