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Anything Is Possible

(Amgash #2)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  45,659 ratings  ·  5,557 reviews
Short story collection Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: one trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested
Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Random House
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Lisa C. Ragan "of my friends" is a prepositional phrase between the subject "none" and verb "has reviewed." Verbs do not agree with objects of prepositions. None is…more"of my friends" is a prepositional phrase between the subject "none" and verb "has reviewed." Verbs do not agree with objects of prepositions. None is considered a singular subject, thus, "none has..." If friends were the subject, it would be correct to say, "My friends have reviewed it."

However, it is correct to say, "None of my friends has reviewed it yet." (less)
Mary I think you can read the book without having read it, but go and read Lucy Barton after you do, and you'll appreciate it. Reading these books is like …moreI think you can read the book without having read it, but go and read Lucy Barton after you do, and you'll appreciate it. Reading these books is like moving to a small town -- it will take you a long time to really understand the interconnectedness of people in the town.

I read Lucy Barton when it came out and loved it so much that I immediately reread the book. I had borrowed it from the library. When I saw that this book was coming out, I immediately ordered both books, because I know I will be rereading them. I want to immerse myself in Strout's world.

It's hard to explain, but reading these simple stories creates in me a meditation about being alive. It makes me look at my own relationships, and at the stories I tell myself about people in my life. There is something profound that Strout is touching upon, and a tremendous human empathy. Read Lucy Barton before or after -- see what you think. You too might be drawn to reread both books.(less)

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Elyse  Walters

Elizabeth Strout begins with Tommy Guptill who once owned a dairy farm in Amgash,
Illinois. The house had burned down. His family had to move to a more run-down town. Their family went from having their home be a place that class trips came to-- --to having to see their father push a broom as a janitor at their school.
The kids were now grown, his wife 82 years old.....and as Tommy said...
"Well, they had all lived through it".

This is a wondrous book, it is my first read by Elizabeth Strout and I was just so impressed. It is a beautifully written collection of 9 short stories set in Amgash, Illinois. We encounter Lucy Barton through the perspectives of others, where she comes across as a wonderful woman, she has survived difficult circumstances, to become a renowned writer of a well received memoir. I get to finally meet her in Sister, where she finally returns to Amgash only to find it is more than she can bear. Stro ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linked stories from Lucy Barton's home town and the people that made up the town. First story features Charlie, former maintenance man at the school the Barton children attended, an elderly man who remembers Lucy and tried to be kind to her, though many didn't. The Barton's too poor and in fact Lucy's brother Pete still lives alone, in the dilapidated house of his youth. Charlie makes a point to visit this lonesome and strange man though he has good reason to write the whole family off as you wi ...more
Larry H
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars here.

I don't know about you, but people watching utterly fascinates me. It's really amusing to watch the dynamics of families and groups of friends, but what's even more fun is making up stories about those we see, developing a narrative about their relationships, challenges, and victories. (It would be great to find out how far from the truth these stories are, wouldn't it?)

Reading Elizabeth Strout's new collection of linked stories, Anything is Possible , feels l
Angela M
Elizabeth Strout is one of our best contemporary authors, so I was thrilled to get an advanced copy of this book. I was especially excited to read it because this book is a continuation of My Name Is Lucy Barton, which was moving in so many ways. I was definitely not disappointed. This is a collection of connected stories and probably could be read as a stand alone, but I have to admit that my enjoyment and appreciation of it was enhanced by having met Lucy previously.

Some of the unspoken things
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, 2017, netgalley

Once again, Elizabeth Strout has exquisitely examined and shared the life of a small group of people in a small town in this lovely compilation of intermingled stories that form this novel. If you’ve already read My Name is Lucy Barton, you’ll be familiar with many of them, and with Lucy.

In “Anything is Possible”, the focus is again on the relationships, in this case most are relatives of one degree or another of Lucy. Siblings. Cousins. Parents. Strained relationships in o
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Art refreshingly revealing how anything's possible when one person honestly, authentically connects with another.
"Lucy, Lucy, Lucy B, where did you go to, how did you flee?"

Following the critical success of Olive Kitteridge and My Name Is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout strops her razor-sharp discernment of human psyche, its nuances, uncertainties and frailty, and in conflict with itself in confronting moral depravity. Anything is Possible is a collection of nine interrelated stories set around Lu
Firecrackers in my soul!!!

Socks knocked off AGAIN! My feet are cold, but my soul is on fire. This collection of stories goes directly to my all-time-favorites shelf. Brilliant, just brilliant. I can barely sit still just thinking about it.

I wasn’t super hot to try this collection, because even though I gave My Name Is Lucy Barton 4 stars, I wasn’t all a-gush. I had loved its subtle tension and its introspection, but I had had sort of a hefty Complaint Board. My biggest gripes were that Lucy and
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Once again, here is another book I read for a Goodreads challenge on audio. And it's another one I'm going to buy and add to my collection. BUT! I need to buy the first book (Lucy Barton) first. I had no idea this was the second book in that story line.

I loved everything about this book as well and the narrator was awesome!

I absolutely loved it!

Happy Reading!

Mel ♥
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strout has quickly become for me a go-to-author. She creates memorable and complex characters for the simplest of stories.
Everything is Possible is an attestation to this. She links the character from my Name is Lucy Barton and weaves her into vignettes of the townspeople she grew up with. Those who knew of her as she was able to flee the stifling small town and successfully move on from her own sadness and despair. Themes of forgiveness, redemption and love of family and friends, because quite
Always Pouting
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read My Name is Lucy Barton but after finishing this I totally want to, also maybe if I would have read it before hand I'd have given this five stars. I really enjoyed the writing style, I actually felt the difference between chapters when the point of view shifted to that of another character which is amazing in my opinion because everyone has a certain writing style and because of that a lot of the characters end up being written similar enough that you don't really feel the shift as ...more
Susanne  Strong
After having read “Olive Kitteridge,” I quickly decided to snap up every book by the esteemed Elizabeth Strout that I could. There is something about Elizabeth Strout's writing that I adore. Her ability to understand and delve into the human psyche, dysfunction and family is truly insightful. Her writing style is brilliant, beautiful, masterful - yet sometimes sad and devastatingly honest. Having just finished “My Name Is Lucy Barton” I knew that I needed to read the next book in the series, “A ...more
Jim Fonseca
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

A collection of inter-connected short stories by the author of Olive Kitteridge, which I have previously read and enjoyed. Olive was set in small-town Maine; this book is set in a hard-up small farming town in Illinois.


An underlying theme in a lot of the stories is about class and, to a large extent, as I’ve written about the novels of Richard Russo, about movers and stayers. In Strout’s stories those who left did well and they tend not to have been back
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

There is something so wonderfully absorbing and enthralling about Stout's books. I am absolutely certain that Stout could write a book about watching pain peel off a wall and I would read it. I love her writing. I read books and think that they are good and then I read Stout and think "Yes! Yes! Yes!" I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it is that draws me to her writing. She has a gift. She is a brilliant Author who can take people and their lives and add a certain type of bril
Elizabeth Strout has written a remarkable book that communicates 9 different, but intertwined stories. There are various threads running between each story and the dialogue is superbly written to create a telling glimpse into the characters’ lives. Anything is Possible presents a wonderful range and balance between character variety, background and intrigue.

Beautifully depicted are the normal everyday tales we hear from husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and between siblings, ne
I feel so compelled to have your attention right now. Have your attention, but not have it for me, or my words or my ego. . . but for you and your soul and for this book of Ms. Strout's.

Wow. Damn it. It's been a long time since a book has caused me to feel this agitated, this moved, this conflicted.

I had to force myself to walk outside, at a brisk pace, circling my yard several times, before I could commit to sitting down and writing this. Even so, I still feel edgy, irritated, worried that I wi
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2017-completed
This book is a series of related short stories, linked to each other, but also linked through connections to Lucy Barton. Raised in extreme poverty, Lucy Barton manages to escape the confinement of her class through education, hard work, and most of all by leaving the environment of her origins. Whether the connection is direct or peripheral, the people in this book know Lucy Barton, or know of her, or know people who know people who knew Lucy Barton.

Through sadness, contentment, pain, joy, sorr
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I could understand things, like about the human heart, from a very young age." – Elizabeth Strout

My copy of this astonishing, soul-penetrating collection includes a question and answer session with Elizabeth Strout at the end. When asked about her sense of creativity, she completes her response with the above revelation. There can be no other reason why her writing is so compelling and affecting! This in essence sums up what makes her work so truly special and superior to nearly all of the cont
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
4.5 Stars

Anything is Possible is the sequel to My Name is Lucy Barton and is read as short stories. In these unforgettable wise, simple and gracefully told short stories we learn more of the siblings and neighbours known to us from My Name is Lucy Barton as they share gossip, judgement and their sadness and disappointments. I found My Name is Lucy Barton to be more of quieter story while Anything is Possible felt a bit louder with more things said as we learn the characters stories of disappoint
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved My Name is Lucy Barton!
Anything is Possible, focuses on different characters, in each chapter, from Lucy's hometown of Amgash, Illinois. There is quite a lot of sadness and pain in these stories, but these characters and their situations were so well written, that I really felt like I knew them. I had a few favorites, and I am glad that Lucy made an appearance, and, the way the book ended, wow, what a way to go out!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC!
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read "My Name Is Lucy Barton" last year, which was my introduction to Elizabeth Strout's writing style. All I remember about that book were the feelings it provoked in me--unresolved feelings that were all too familiar with my own mother. I became so caught up in the strained relationship between Lucy and her mother and the hurt that had been festering all those years that I don't remember any of the people from Lucy's hometown who were mentioned. I only remember the small talk, taking the pla ...more
4.5 Stars

Oh. Boy. Elizabeth Strout does it again in this sequel to MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON. She takes a group of unexceptional folk and interweaves an exceptional group of short stories as we revisit the small impoverished town of Amgash, Illinois. We even get to have a sit-down with Lucy herself.....albeit a somewhat difficult one.

Bad times and sad times are in abundance here though with dysfunctional families and their dark personal secrets, but a couple characters actually brought a smile to

Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I loved Elizabeth Strout's My Name Is Lucy Barton. It was a short tight novel about an author reflecting on her harsh childhood and adult life while lying in a hospital bed with her mother at her side. There was something about Lucy that really touched me. My expectations were therefore high for Everything Is Possible. It's a collection of connected stories that are also linked to My Name Is Lucy Barton -- stories about people from Lucy's childhood town, bringing a different perspective to Lucy' ...more
Iris P
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anything Is Possible

★★★★★ 5 Convincing Stars!

“Sarah Payne, the day she told us to go to the page without judgment, reminded us that we never knew, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully."

― Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton


I received a free advance e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

In My Name Is Lucy Barton, the critically acclaimed 2016
Just stellar, as always. Elizabeth Strout, how I love thee!

This amazing collection of 9 short stories revolves around the community of Amgash, Illinois, the hometown of Lucy Barton, the leading lady of Strout's previous novel ("My Name is Lucy Barton"). You don't necessarily need to read "Lucy Barton" first to tackle and enjoy this collection, but I highly recommend it. Lucy's backstory does illuminate several of these narratives.

Strout's characters are all loosely connected in some way across t
A masterful collection of nine connected stories. They all feature people with origins from a fictional rural northern Illinois community, Amgash, and triangulate with Lucy Barton, who moved away and became a successful writer. They were all affected one way or another by one in their midst who survived such abject poverty that she and her two cousins resorted to eating out of dumpsters. Now seventeen years later, her friends, family, and former enemies have all moved on in their lives, some cha ...more
I expect I'll be the odd one out on this book. While I see glowing accolates and many 4.5 and 5 star reviews, I just had a hard time connecting with it. I cannot put my finger on the exact reason. Strout's My Name Is Lucy Barton was extraordinary, and this book is written in a similar vein. Strout takes us to Lucy's hometown where we meet people from her past as well as her siblings. Every person is so completely *human* -- flawed, imperfect, and in this book, profoundly sad (perhaps that was my ...more
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: Tommy knew many things as a result of being the janitor in that school for more than thirty years: he knew of girls' pregnancies and of drunken mothers and cheating spouses, for he overheard these things talked about by the students in their small huddles by the bathrooms, or near the cafeteria; in many ways he was invisible, he understood that. But Lucy Barton had troubled him the most. She and her sister, Vicky, and her brother, Pete, had been viciously scorned by the other kids, and ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018, modern-lit
This was my 147th and last book of 2018, and my first review of 2019. This collection of stories is a companion piece to the Booker longlisted My Name is Lucy Barton, and I came very close to awarding it 5 stars.

This collection is largely set in the rural backwater of Amgash, Illinois, the small town from which Lucy escaped her impoverished childhood to become a writer in New York. Each of the stories is self-contained, but there are links both to the earlier book and to other stories in this on
Disclaimer. Elizabeth Strout is one of my favourite writers and I loved My Name Is Lucy Barton, so I was predisposed to enjoy this. And I did. She catches people when they are most vulnerable.

Lucy, her family and other townsfolk she and her mother reminisced about in the previous book feature in separate stories and occasionally appear in each other’s. Whether you connect all the dots or not doesn't really matter, but of course when you do make the connections, it multiplies the enjoyment. Ah,
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Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteri ...more

Other books in the series

Amgash (2 books)
  • My Name Is Lucy Barton

Articles featuring this book

The Anything Is Possible author says she learned to write by reading the great Russian novels. Here are some of her favorites.
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“This was the skin that protected you from the world—this loving of another person you shared your life with.” 37 likes
“To listen to a person is not passive.” 15 likes
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