Fellowship Point

Alice Elliott Dark. Marysue Rucci Books/Scribner, $28 (592p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3181-4

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. (July)
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