Anything is Possible
By Elizabeth Strout
Read June 2018
I keep reading Elizabeth Strout for the same reason her other readers do. She provides us characters who have survived difficult to dreadful family situations as children or as adults and who become or remain real people who are living real lives and trying to make the best of it. She writes beautifully. We believe her characters could be real—people really go through these trials and people really survive them although usually not fully intact—which is true for her characters.
Strout enjoys the format of short stories that have some connection with each other and through those connections we more deeply learn about the various characters she’s chosen to consider in this particular work without being told too directly. Her previous novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, touched on some of these characters (she didn’t need to do this and in some ways the “gossip” the mother conveys about these characters is almost distracting in that book) and her readers aren’t surprised this novel follows so she can more deeply consider their stories. Strout directly brings Lucy Barton back to her home town for one of the stories of this book while exploring more about her siblings and neighbors in other stories.
Strout’s stories are heavy. Her characters are sad and struggling. But we read them because they are well written and her characters are believable. Strout gives us a little relief in the final story in which one “mature” (over 60) character strongly confronts another “mature” character. In the final sentence of the story we do believe Strout’s character when he decides” Anything was possible for anyone.”