Fellowship Point is a special book. It is one that will resonate with those who love long (almost 600 pages), involved and involving stories. The characters are fully fleshed out and I often felt that I wanted to speak with them, to comment on their life choices and, indeed, to be a part of their lives. The sense of place and concern for the environment were also big draws. Readers will find themselves around Philadelphia, in Maine and New York City.
Interestingly and unusually, two of the books most important characters are in their 80s; Agnes and Polly are lifelong friends who followed different paths and trajectories. Agnes never married. She is the successful author of a book series for children that has become iconic. The “Nan Can” titles, written and illustrated by Agnes, have always portrayed girls as capable; now, they are being studied academically. Agnes is not sure that she is interested. Under a pseudonym, Agnes has written a series of adult novels that portray the lives of women who live on Philadelphia’s Main Line. She wants to finish the last in the series but is suffering from writer’s block when the story opens.
In contract to Agnes, Polly has diligently followed the rule book on being a good wife, mother and homemaker. She has abnegated her own needs and wishes (which she may not always even know), to those of her husband and progeny. Polly’s husband is a self-absorbed professor who profoundly lack insight. He wants Polly present whenever he wants her but also feels free to ignore her whenever that suits him.
There is also a young woman, Maud. She is in her 20s, has a three year old, and works in publishing. She hopes to complete a project with Agnes. Her life is also three dimensional in its presentation. Maud has a precocious child and a mother with mental health issues.
Around these central characters are many others whom readers will get to know over a period of years. This novel travels back and forth in both time and viewpoint. Central is the issue of preserving a very special peninsula in Maine. Not all have the same goals for it.
I very highly recommend this engrossing novel. It may just be my best book of the summer.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Scribner, and Simon and Schuster for this title. All opinions are my own.
This title has been published. It received a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
“Enthralling, masterfully written . . . Fellowship Point is a novel rich with social and psychological insights, both earnest and sly, big ideas grounded in individual emotions, a portrait of a tightly knit community made up of artfully drawn, individual souls.”
–Kate Christensen, New York Times Book Review
“Fans who devoured ‘In the Gloaming’ and other, earlier works, rejoice. Striking from the first for its clear, sharply intelligent voice, streaming wisdom and wit on nearly all of close to 600 pages, Fellowship [Point] embodies a magnificent storytelling feat.”
“Exquisitely written, utterly engrossing . . . It is hard to write about this novel without gushing. You sink into it with a sigh of contentment, as into a hot bath. Its characters, settings, and deftly woven plot pull you right in, the better to soak in its reflections on aging, writing, stewardship, legacies, independence, and responsibility. At its heart, Fellowship Point is about caring for the places and people we love . . . Fellowship Point has the complexity, pace, and length of an absorbing 19th century epic . . . [and its] various plotlines dovetail with amazing grace, culminating in a moving, well-earned climax . . . This magnificent novel affirms that change and growth are possible at any age.”
–Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor
“Engrossing… studded with wisdom about longheld bonds.”
—People Magazine, Book of the Week
“An utterly engrossing, sweeping work.”
—TIME, Top 10 Books of July 2022
“Friendship is tethered to geography in Alice Elliott Dark’s capacious novel Fellowship Point. . . . . The sense that these characters are still growing, despite their old age, contributes to the novel’s wonderful texture, its feeling of depth and ongoingness. Both women are superbly depicted.”
–Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“Longing for an old-fashioned 19th century novel – but without the time travel? FELLOWSHIP POINT earns its nearly 600 pages with a quietly complex structure, starring two octogenarian women whose long friendship is entangled with their families’ landholdings in coastal Maine. As they seek to save the acreage from development, Agnes Lee and Polly Wister must also confront their past choices and find some peace in the present.”
—Los Angeles Times, 10 Books for July