Do you ever finish a book and immediately want to go back and start it all over again? This book did that for me. Luminous, delicate, and poignant, it is the story of Agnes and Polly, two lifelong friends in their 80’s who always spent summers together at their family homes on Fellowship Point, Maine. They want to preserve their land by donating it to a trust, but must secure the approval of Polly’s children, who are not in favor of the plan. Agnes is a famous author who’s been approached by Maud Silver, an ambitious young New York editor, to write her memoirs. An extremely private person, Agnes is unwilling to share her life story with the world. Yet as she gets to know Maud, she slowly relents, exposing parts of her identity that no one has ever seen before. For her part, Polly is dealing with her husband’s stubbornness and dementia, while looking back at her life and her choices with fresh eyes. Her old friend and groundskeeper, Robert Circumstance, has been jailed for a crime he did not commit, and Polly is determined to clear his name.
This lovely, character-driven book is filled with insights about so many things: growing old, female friendship, being a woman in a man’s world, justice, and compassion. At 576 pages, it spans decades, but the women’s stories are so vital and engaging that it never felt long to me. Fellowship Point has changed how I feel about getting older – I was inspired by these characters, their strength, their resilience, and most of all, their ability to accept aging. It also has such a wonderful sense of place. The Maine coast comes alive in Elliott’s hands, beautiful and unspoiled. I have never been to Maine, but reading this, I fell in love with the place. I cannot say enough about this book – it is one of my favorites of the year.