Book Review

Anything Is Possible


I am not a short story person.  I far prefer to sink my teeth into a book and let a single, cohesive plotline take me away.  But I loved My Name is Lucy Barton, and my book group will be discussing Anything is Possible this season, so while I was driving to and from the lake this summer, I listened to this one.

Positives first.  I loved reuniting with and learning more about the characters from Lucy Barton.  Strout is amazing when it comes to delving deep into each character, and being able to do it in a short story is extraordinary.  She also captures small-town America with exquisite detail and grace. Her prose is clean, fresh, and precise;  I have always admired that about her work.   And another positive about this book?  It is short.

That said, I wasn’t riveted to Anything is Possible. The stories were well-crafted; the characters were different enough.  But, novel-lover that I am, I kept looking for a unifying theme, and the only one I could come up with was the complexity of life as it explained depression.  Even Lucy Barton, whose appearance I relished and who seemed good at first, ended up an emotional mess.  I was touched by some of the stories, especially early on.  As I continued reading, though, I just felt dragged down.

If you all, like me, judge a book by its meaning and the enjoyment it brings, you’ll understand why I gave it only 3 stars.  That puts me in the minority of reviewers.  Everywhere else I looked, the reviews were glowing.  But then, Strout is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so she has to be good, right?  Clearly, the reviewers saw more than I did, which may be my own limitation.  Or did they not see more, but want to?  Was it a case of the emperor’s new clothes?  Or is that my cynicism speaking?

Whatever, I’m looking forward to the discussion of my book group to help me find cohesiveness in this one.


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