Oh dear, it’s not a particularly good photograph for this review of what is a particularly good book from a truly excellent storyteller.
Elizabeth Strout is one of my favourite authors. It’s not a very small club to be in to be honest but it is quite a difficult one to get in to. All members of my ‘favourite authors club’ are there because, in my opinion, they write beautifully and are also brilliant storytellers.
I first came across Elizabeth Strout when I read Olive Kitteridge, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2009. It is an absolute delight of a book and one which I must read again soon.
I then read Oh William! and loved that too so I have been buying others as and when I see them and currently have My Name is Lucy Barton and Olive Again on my over-burdened To Be Read shelves.
Anything is Possible is a collection of nine interlinked short stories about the inhabitants of a town called Amgash, Illinois, which happens to be the childhood home of Lucy Barton of My Name is Lucy Barton fame.
The characters can take a lead role in one story and a secondary or tertiary role in another but they are all linked by the fact they a residents of Lucy Barton’s home town – a town she hasn’t visited for 17 years.
We have the school janitor who used to be a farmer until his dairy farm burned to the ground and he’d had to move his family to Amgash. We meet the Nicely sisters, one of whom works as a school counsellor and who has a run in with one of her students but then helps her to achieve her goals. Then there’s Charlie whose regular trips to see a prostitute lead her to ask him for money to bail out her son who owes money to drug dealers. But he’s married and has a family.
We even meet Lucy Barton and her brother and sister who have not escaped Amgash, Illinois like she did but have remained in the town during their sister’s long absence.
The joy of Elizabeth Strout is that she creates characters that you know, that you feel wrapped up in, as if you’ve seen them walking down your own street for years. They are the embodiment of small town American life, or small town life anywhere.
And her writing makes you feel as though you are also a member of the community, walking down the same main street, seeing the interactions between the characters and eavesdropping on their conversations.
I just find myself drawn into the world she creates. Isn’t that the sign of a great writer?
Anything is Possible is the lives of the population of the small farming town of Amgash, Illinois – which is famous only for being the hometown of Lucy Barton – dissected warts and all.
And it is brilliant…
And you should read it.
2 responses to “REVIEW: Anything is Possible”
I love your style. Very straight, not too many words. Well said!
That’s very kind. Thank you