This sprawling saga featuring two octogenarian protagonists reads like a 19th century novel. Agnes Lee and Polly Wister have been friends their whole lives, growing up alongside each other in Philadelphia Quaker families and summering together in Maine. Agnes is beloved by the world as a bestselling children’s author, but not a living soul—including Polly—knows she also pens the popular and critically praised Franklin Square series. Polly knows Agnes sees her as a pushover, especially when it comes to her family, but Polly never lets on she’s wiser than her friend gives her credit for. When an enterprising (and nosy) young editor begins pestering Agnes to write a memoir, she sets in motion a chain of events that tests the women’s lifelong friendship, and threatens to expose the long-buried secrets each has so carefully kept from the other. If you want a big, rich, and immersive novel to sink into this summer, this 592-pager is just the ticket. For fans of Virginia Hume’s Haven Point and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale.
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.