Elizabeth Strout’s Anything is Possible is on the short list of a Goodreads Choice Award but it had a waitlist at my library so I picked up My Name is Lucy Barton instead and was pleasantly surprised.
“My mother told me in the hospital that day that I was not like my brother and sister: “Look at your life right now. You just went ahead and…did it.” Perhaps she meant that I was already ruthless. Perhaps she meant that, but I don’t know what my mother meant.”
The timeline is a little wacky; Lucy appears to be writing this from the present day but the bulk of the narrative is set around Lucy’s estranged mother visiting her in the hospital while she recovers from a severe infection following surgery. The Bartons were very poor when Lucy was growing up which directly impacted Lucy’s future. The lack of heat in her family home, in Amgash, Illinois, lead to her staying late at school to study which got her a full ride scholarship to college where she met her husband who came from a wealthy family and had an entirely different upbringing. Lucy’s mother is an interesting character and during her visit she shares colorful stories about the people who were part of their lives while Lucy was growing up. These portions were the strongest since Mrs. Barton, a superstitious woman who believes her dreams tell the future, and her gossipy nature were incredibly entertaining. Lucy was a bit whiny at times, life threatening infection notwithstanding, but I could have listened to her mother gossip for pages.
The more recent past/ present day stuff, like how Lucy started her writing career, was fine but not as captivating but overall Strout’s writing is strong and she filled her world with colorful descriptions and quirky characters. I anxiously await getting to Anything is Possible.