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"Fellowship Point" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab

Agnes Lee and Polly Gardner are lifelong friends who own shares in a vacation spot on a peninsula jutting out from the coast of Maine into the cold Atlantic Ocean. “Fellowship Point” opens in the winter of 2000 when the two are celebrating their 80th birthdays at Agnes’ Philadelphia apartment. As they reminisce, they decide it is time to plan their legacies.

The two women are most concerned about the future of Fellowship Point, the 145-acre stretch of pristine land in Maine which includes a salt marsh abounding with a wide variety of birds, meadows of native plants and a rocky beach. As the novel unfolds, the issue of determining the future of The Point threatens their cherished relationship.

Agnes, who has no children, wants to permanently protect the “Edenically wild” summer retreat, which has been in her family for three generations, by donating it to a land trust that would preserve the land and the animals from developers. She is confident she can persuade Polly, and the third shareholder, her cousin Archie Lee, to agree with her plan.

However, Polly has lived the sophisticated life of a wealthy married woman with children, utterly devoted to her philosophy professor husband. The urban matron is torn between acceding to her best friend's wishes or those of her eldest son, James, who is in line to inherit her share of The Point. And, readers soon learn, that Cousin Archie has a gold-digging wife who wants him to sell his share to a developer for a high-end resort, thus forever destroying this unspoiled site.

Agnes’ plans are further complicated when Maud Silver, a book editor, encourages the octogenarian to write her memoirs. As Agnes resists, and then haltingly begins to write about her life, she confronts long-repressed secrets and incidents which lead to profound ramifications for all involved.

“Fellowship Point” addresses contemporary themes of friendship, love, secrets, personal legacy, family, aging, ownership, and the stewardship of the earth. It is an intelligent, sweeping novel that raises many questions about morality and ethics.

This 579-page narrative, that resolves this investigation of personal relationships within these broad human themes, also is a true pleasure to read and contemplate. The writing is so elegantly structured, with paragraphs that are works of art, that I was sorry to finish it.

About the Author: Alice Elliott Dark is the award-winning author of “Think of England’ and two collections of short stories, “In the Gloaming” and “Naked to the Waist.” Dark is a past recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Literature Fellowship and is an associate professor at Rutgers-Newark in the MFA program.

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