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.
Dark (Think of England) celebrates women's friendships and artistic mentorship in this expansive yet intimate novel. At the age of 80 in the year 2000, Agnes Lee is thinking about her legacy, especially following her third breast cancer diagnosis. While celebrated for writing a series of feminist children's books centered on a plucky character named Nan, Agnes is also secretly the author of a literary series for adults, published under a pseudonym. The fifth volume is due, but she's suffering from writer's block. Meanwhile, Agnes seeks support from her lifelong best friend, Polly, on her mission to donate a valuable stretch of land along the Maine coast held jointly by their families, rather than pass it to the next generation and risk it falling into the hands of developers. Blunt and self-reliant Agnes, who has no children, finds herself at loggerheads with Polly, who has several and who, much to Agnes's everlasting frustration, invariably defers to her husband. 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.