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Fellowship Point: A Novel (Hardcover)
July 2022 Indie Next List
“Fellowship Point was a joy to read. Alice Elliott Dark has crafted unforgettable characters in a sweeping story of friendship, family, and life as a whole. I hit pause on the real world for a bit and fell deeply in love with this gem of a novel.”
— Kaitlin Smith, Copperfield's Books Healdsburg, Healdsburg, CA
The masterful story of a lifelong friendship between two very different women with shared histories and buried secrets, tested in the twilight of their lives, set across the arc of the 20th century.
Celebrated children’s book author Agnes Lee is determined to secure her legacy—to complete what she knows will be the final volume of her pseudonymously written Franklin Square novels; and even more consuming, to permanently protect the peninsula of majestic coast in Maine known as Fellowship Point. To donate the land to a trust, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old partnership. And one of those shareholders is her best friend, Polly.
Polly Wister has led a different kind of life than Agnes: that of a well-off married woman with children, defined by her devotion to her husband, and philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She exalts in creating beauty and harmony in her home, in her friendships, and in her family. Polly soon finds her loyalties torn between the wishes of her best friend and the wishes of her three sons—but what is it that Polly wants herself?
Agnes’s designs are further muddied when an enterprising young book editor named Maud Silver sets out to convince Agnes to write her memoirs. Agnes’s resistance cannot prevent long-buried memories and secrets from coming to light with far-reaching repercussions for all.
Fellowship Point reads like a classic 19th-century novel in its beautifully woven, multilayered narrative, but it is entirely contemporary in the themes it explores; a deep and empathic interest in women’s lives, the class differences that divided us, the struggle to protect the natural world, and, above all, a reckoning with intimacy, history, and posterity. It is a masterwork from Alice Elliott Dark.
About the Author
Alice Elliott Dark is the author the novels Fellowship Point and Think of England, as well as two collections of short stories, In the Gloaming and Naked to the Waist. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry: Prize Stories, among others. Her award-winning story “In the Gloaming” was made into two films and was chosen for inclusion in Best American Stories of the Century. Dark is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is an associate professor at Rutgers-Newark in the MFA program.
"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
“With its lavish cast, textured world-building, and intricate skein of subplots, Fellowship Point consciously deploys the modes and tactics of a Victorian novel, but in pursuit of acutely contemporary themes: chiefly, environmental conservations and female self-determination. Like much of Dark’s fiction, the novel explores how women – particularly women from wealthy backgrounds, raised to be gracious and self-effacing – struggle to make lives for themselves as artists and individuals. Dark is a writer deeply consumed with questions of goodness, fairness, ethics, and honesty. She has also been, not coincidentally, a wise and insightful teacher to many writers, myself included. That same generosity of vision courses through Fellowship Point.”
—LA Review of Books
"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
“An ambitious and satisfying tale of the lifelong friendship between two women in their 80s.”
—Becky Meloan, Washington Post
"An engrossing, relatable tale about female friendship and the growing pains of long relationships."
“Marvelous . . . . Reading this novel is a transportive experience, similar to spending a long, luxurious summer on the shores of a picturesque Maine peninsula. It’s full of memorable adventures, tense moments of family drama, and opportunities for restorative contemplation. Through it all, Fellowship Point harkens back to one of Howard’s End‘s big messages: ‘Only connect.’”
—Alice Cary, BookPage (starred review)
“Into every long and lazy summer, at least one great heavyweight novel must fall. . . . Dark’s brisk, generous prose is worth the weight.”
—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly (Best of July)
"A sweeping story of lifelong best friends...you will surely want to read this book. Elegantly structured, beautifully written, and altogether diverting, with a powerful message about land ownership in America."
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
“Dark (Think of England) celebrates women’s friendships and artistic mentorship in this expansive yet intimate novel. The families and their grudges and grievances fill a broad canvas, and within it Dark delves deeply into the relationships between Agnes and her work, humans and the land, mothers and children, and, most indelibly, the sustenance and joy provided by a long-held female friendship. It’s a remarkable achievement.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"I can’t remember the last time I’ve fallen so hard for a book. Fellowship Point is about many things: friendship, secrets, legacy, love, family—but the true magic here is in the writing. Alice Elliott Dark has conjured a world so immersive I can still feel it in my bones. I mourned the finish, when I would have to leave behind the characters I grew to love. This captivating, unforgettable novel is thrillingly good.” — Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of Nest and Good Company
"Fellowship Point is a marvel. Intricately constructed, utterly unique, this novel set on the coast of Maine is filled with insights about writing, about the perils and freedoms of aging, about the great mysteries, as well as the pleasures, of life. The story about the relationships between three women unfolds, as life does, through joys and losses, confrontations and confessions, with twists along the way that change your perception of all that came before. This is a world is so closely and acutely observed that I felt I lived in it. I was sorry to leave."
—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author