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Anything is Possible Kindle Edition
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ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017
Shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2018
From the No. 1 New York Times bestselling and Man Booker long-listed author of My Name is Lucy Barton
Anything is Possible tells the story of the inhabitants of rural, dusty Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, a successful New York writer who finally returns, after seventeen years of absence, to visit the siblings she left behind.
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.
'A terrific writer' Zadie Smith
'A superbly gifted storyteller and a craftswoman in a league of her own' Hilary Mantel
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From the Publisher
"Readers who loved My Name Is Lucy Barton . . . are in for a real treat. . . . Strout is a master of the story cycle form. . . . She paints cumulative portraits of the heartache and soul of small-town America by giving each of her characters a turn under her sympathetic spotlight."--NPR
"These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response. . . . Strout hits the target yet again."--The Washington Post
"In this wise and accomplished book, pain and healing exist in perpetual dependence, like feuding siblings."--The Wall Street Journal
"Anything Is Possible confirms Strout as one of our most grace-filled, and graceful, writers."--The Boston Globe
"Anything Is Possible keenly draws a portrait of a small town where options are few, where everyone's business is everyone's business, and where verdicts rendered while young follow you your whole life. . . . It joins a vast genre, and elevates it."--Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Neither novel nor linked story collection strikes me as adequate terms to describe this book's ingenious structure. . . . Strout's sentence style fits these Midwestern folks and tales: straightforward while also seeming effortlessly lyrical, seeded both with humor and bitterness like many of our days."--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Stunning . . . Strout, always good, just keeps getting better."--Vogue
"Full of searing insight into the darkest corners of the human spirit . . . Anything Is Possible is both sweeping in scope and incredibly introspective. That delicate balance is what makes its content so sharp and compulsively readable. . . . Strout's winning formula . . . has succeeded once again. With assuredness, compassion and utmost grace, her words and characters remind us that in life anything is actually possible."--San Francisco Chronicle
"While we recommend everything by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer--like, say her recent book My Name Is Lucy Barton--this novel, which explores life's complexities through interconnected stores, stands on its own. . . . It's a joy to read a modern master doing her thing."--Marie Claire
"If you miss the charmingly eccentric and completely relatable characters from Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout's best-selling My Name Is Lucy Barton, you'll be happily reunited with them in Strout's smart and soulful Anything Is Possible."--Elle
"Strout pierces the inner worlds of these characters' most private behaviors, illuminating the emotional conflicts and pure joy of being human, of finding oneself in the search for the American dream."--NYLON--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B01M6DJO02
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (4 May 2017)
- Language : English
- File size : 1288 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 258 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1683243935
- Best Sellers Rank: 13,503 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Very well written a good command of language. thanks for an enjoyable reading experience.
Top reviews from other countries
Not an actual sequel to the author’s previous novel ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’ this book does feature her and takes us to her home town of Amgash and the surrounding area (such as Carlisle) Illinois. Here we read of other members of the Barton family, including cousins, as well as other people from the area.
Filled with various themes so we can see depression, desire and loneliness, along with desperation and gossip, and so on. As incidents occur and we find out things that are going on in the present as well as in the past, so we find characters that are skilfully drawn with scenarios that we either have experience of or can empathise with. This is beautifully written, and the people really come to life, with their warts and all, giving us a deeper insight into life and what it means to be human. None of us are perfect, and this is shown here, with flaws appearing in characters, that adds to that human touch.
You do not have to have read the Lucy Barton novel to appreciate this, and due to the structure, even if you do not normally read short story books you may soon find yourself enjoying this, as the tales interconnect, and as I have already mentioned this does have a feel of a novel about it. Giving us a greater depth than the page count may indicate this really is a pure pleasure to read.
Seemingly innocuous scenes unfold with a gradual shift in tone and mood, that are sometimes alarming and violent, sometimes touching and sad, but always moving, as a character learns something about himself or herself, or revisits a distant memory and wonders at how it has been distorted just so. Strout’s impeccable skill at fully investing in the moment such that the immediate surroundings acquire significance and become part of the character’s frame of reference for a feeling or some hard truth that he or she has to suddenly grapple with is in full force in these interconnected narratives. For instance, when a pliant wife confronts the awful crimes her husband commits and worse, that she has been complicit with, “the Hopper painting hung on the wall with an indifference so vast it began to feel personal, as though it had been painted for this moment.”
Oftentimes a simple truth uttered in the midst of tremendous hurt and pain, at the right place and time, offers a glimmer of hope and acceptance, such as this one: “And remorse, well, to be able to show remorse - to be able to be sorry about what we’ve done that’s hurt other people - that keeps us human.” And as much as we battle ourselves and the world at large each day on our own, and realise that “everyone... was mainly and mostly interested in themselves”, as a woman Patty listened to her friend turning a conversation back to her own to her own troubles, she reflected on the devotion of her late husband: “This was the skin that protected you from the world - this loving of another person you shared your life with.” The sadness and longing of that sentence was palpable in the context of all that Patty had loved and lost.
Strout may not offer any pithy answers but she expertly dissects the contradictions of this thing we call the human condition, exposing its bare bones for our reflection and examination, and it’s difficult to step out from this novel without a certain reverence for one’s life and its complicated relationships.
I struggled to figure out the relationships between the different characters - often having to go back to remind myself who a person was and what their connection was. I might get the Lucy Barton novel, as I did (in general) like the writing style, and hope that a cohesive single story line will be easier to handle!
It is 254 pages with 9 chapters that are names rather than numbered.
The book is structured in the format of 9 short stories, each one focusing on one character in the community, all linked by Lucy Barton. Lucy had a difficult childhood in the town then moved away to become successful in New York. Each chapter is perfectly formed - standing alone as a story but then linking beautifully with all the other chapters to give a complete novel.
My Name is Lucy Barton is the first book in the series and this is the second (I didn't realise this until I started reading). It is not necessary to have read the previous novel before this one although it will add back story. If you haven't read Lucy Barton then it would work to read it after this one as the story will be much more complete and you will get more historical context.
Each of the chapters start with a fairly cosy setup then quickly descend into darkness, some being quite disturbing for the characters and the reader.
Cleverly, as each chapter revealing more about it's subject, the style of writing changes to match their personality.
I was surprised which people has been chosen by the author but was fascinated to hear their voices. I wanted to know their unique stories and find out more about why they see the world in the way they do.
This is such an amazing book, structurally as well as on many other levels. There is no particular plot, just a perfect observation of a group of people connected by community.