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About The Book


“Engrossing...studded with wisdom about long-held bonds.” —People, Book of the Week
“Enthralling, masterfully with social and psychological insights.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A magnificent storytelling feat.” —The Boston Globe

The “utterly engrossing, sweeping” (Time) story of a lifelong friendship between two very different “superbly depicted” (The Wall Street Journal) women with shared histories, divisive loyalties, hidden sorrows, and eighty years of summers on a pristine point of land on the coast of Maine, 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, a philosophy professor with an inflated sense of stature. She strives to create 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.

“An ambitious and satisfying tale” (The Washington Post), Fellowship Point reads like a 19th-century epic, but it is entirely contemporary in its “reflections on aging, writing, stewardship, legacies, independence, and responsibility. At its heart, Fellowship Point is about caring for the places and people we love...This magnificent novel affirms that change and growth are possible at any age” (The Christian Science Monitor).

Reading Group Guide


After a cancer recurrence, children’s book author Agnes Lee decides to secure her legacy by completing the final volume in her Franklin Square book series—a string of literary novels published under a pseudonym. Meanwhile, and just as time consuming, is her plan to protect a majestic stretch of land along the Maine peninsula known as Fellowship Point. To do this, Agnes must convince shareholders to dissolve a generations-old land trust. And one of these shareholders happens to be Agnes’s best friend, Polly.

Unlike Agnes—who is childless, irascible, and independent—Polly Wister is a well-off, married woman who is devoted to her husband and three sons. She often defers to the wishes of her family, and her loyalties are torn when she is forced to decide who to support. Is it Agnes, her lifelong best friend? Or is it her family? What is it, really, that Polly wants herself?

Their relationship is further complicated by the appearance of Maud, a young and enterprising book editor who wants Agnes to complete a memoir. Agnes resists, but her long-buried memories and secrets begin to resurface, with far-reaching consequences for all. Deep and emphatic in its portrayal of women’s lives, Fellowship Point is a masterwork that reckons with history, posterity, class, and, ultimately, the friendships that sustain us.


1. Evaluate the themes of gender, feminism, and domesticity in Fellowship Point. How do characters, like Agnes, subvert expectations of womanhood? How does Polly, and how does Maud?

2. Early in the novel, Agnes describes the project of fiction as seeking “to reveal what a particular person [is] bound to do under explicit circumstances” (6). Do you agree with her? If not, how does your idea of fiction’s project differ?

3. Do you think Agnes’s idea evolves or changes over the course of the book? Alternatively, what would you imagine to be Polly’s idea of fiction? Maud’s?

4. The act of writing appears throughout the novel, often in different iterations. As readers, we encounter book synopses, letters, academic papers, and more. Discuss the significance of this, taking into consideration the secrets characters are willing to reveal on the page, but not to each other.

5. Class is another theme in Fellowship Point. Track where it shows up, and how, and explore its relationship to gender. For example, is it significant that many of the landowners in this novel are women?

6. Art, literature, and the creation of both appear to be recurring motifs in the novel. Characters write, read, comment on art, struggle to produce it, etc. What do you think the author is saying about artistry in this novel—especially as it pertains to work and womanhood?

7. Discuss the two epigraphs that open the book. How do they inform your interpretation of the novel’s different themes?

8. How would you characterize Agnes’s friendship with Polly? How do you think that friendship evolves throughout the novel—especially with the introduction of Maud—and what do you think the book is saying about how well people know each other?

9. Fellowship Point opens with a map of Cape Deel—one that foregrounds many of the novel’s important settings. As a reader, did you notice any location that isn’t represented on this map? Conversely, are there locations that are represented on the map, but which then play smaller roles within the narrative?

10. Discuss the shifting viewpoints in Fellowship Point. How does the arrangement of them, as well as the fact that we travel across time (from 2000 to the 1870s) and space (from Philadelphia to Manhattan), affect our experience of the story?

11. Evaluate the themes of conservation and environmentalism in the story. How does it intersect with the novel’s other themes, like that of gender? Class? How might you characterize the people seeking to preserve Fellowship Point, and the ones seeking to redevelop it?


1. Imagine if Fellowship Point were narrated by a single character. What would the story look like if it were filtered through Polly’s point of view? Agnes’s or Maud’s? How would the book change—in plot and sensibility—if it were told through the perspective of one of the male characters?

2. Write a story about an important place in your life from your own point of view. Then write it from a friend or family member’s perspective. Does your idea of that important place change? Why, how, or why not?

3. Draw a map that foregrounds the important locations in your neighborhood and life, taking into consideration the places you might have to omit. Compare it with a map one of your book club members drew. How do they differ? What settings, if any, recur?

About The Author

Photograph by James Leng

Alice Elliott Dark is the author the novels Fellowship Point and Think of England, as well as two collections of short stories, In the Gloaming and Naked to the Waist. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerHarper’sThe New York Times, Best American Short Stories, and O. Henry: Prize Stories, among othersHer award-winning story “In the Gloaming” was made into two films and was chosen for inclusion in Best American Stories of the Century. Dark is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is an associate professor at Rutgers-Newark in the MFA program.

Product Details

  • Publisher: S&S/Marysue Rucci Books (July 5, 2022)
  • Length: 592 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982131869

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Raves and Reviews

"Enthralling, masterfully written . . . Fellowship Point is a novel rich with social and psychological insights, both earnest and sly, big ideas grounded in individual emotions, a portrait of a tightly knit community made up of artfully drawn, individual souls.”
–Kate Christensen, New York Times Book Review

"Fans who devoured 'In the Gloaming' and other, earlier works, rejoice. Striking from the first for its clear, sharply intelligent voice, streaming wisdom and wit on nearly all of close to 600 pages, Fellowship [Point] embodies a magnificent storytelling feat."
Boston Globe

“Exquisitely written, utterly engrossing . . . It is hard to write about this novel without gushing. You sink into it with a sigh of contentment, as into a hot bath. Its characters, settings, and deftly woven plot pull you right in, the better to soak in its reflections on aging, writing, stewardship, legacies, independence, and responsibility. At its heart, Fellowship Point is about caring for the places and people we love . . . Fellowship Point has the complexity, pace, and length of an absorbing 19th century epic . . . [and its] various plotlines dovetail with amazing grace, culminating in a moving, well-earned climax . . . This magnificent novel affirms that change and growth are possible at any age.”
–Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor

“With its lavish cast, textured world-building, and intricate skein of subplots, Fellowship Point consciously deploys the modes and tactics of a Victorian novel, but in pursuit of acutely contemporary themes: chiefly, environmental conservations and female self-determination. Like much of Dark’s fiction, the novel explores how women – particularly women from wealthy backgrounds, raised to be gracious and self-effacing – struggle to make lives for themselves as artists and individuals. Dark is a writer deeply consumed with questions of goodness, fairness, ethics, and honesty. She has also been, not coincidentally, a wise and insightful teacher to many writers, myself included. That same generosity of vision courses through Fellowship Point.”

—LA Review of Books

"Engrossing... studded with wisdom about longheld bonds."
People Magazine, Book of the Week

"An utterly engrossing, sweeping work."
TIME, Top 10 Books of July 2022

“Friendship is tethered to geography in Alice Elliott Dark’s capacious novel Fellowship Point. . . . . The sense that these characters are still growing, despite their old age, contributes to the novel’s wonderful texture, its feeling of depth and ongoingness. Both women are superbly depicted.”
–Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“Longing for an old-fashioned 19th century novel – but without the time travel? FELLOWSHIP POINT earns its nearly 600 pages with a quietly complex structure, starring two octogenarian women whose long friendship is entangled with their families’ landholdings in coastal Maine. As they seek to save the acreage from development, Agnes Lee and Polly Wister must also confront their past choices and find some peace in the present.”
Los Angeles Times, 10 Books for July

“An ambitious and satisfying tale of the lifelong friendship between two women in their 80s.”
—Becky Meloan, Washington Post

"An engrossing, relatable tale about female friendship and the growing pains of long relationships."
—Real Simple

“Marvelous . . . . Reading this novel is a transportive experience, similar to spending a long, luxurious summer on the shores of a picturesque Maine peninsula. It’s full of memorable adventures, tense moments of family drama, and opportunities for restorative contemplation. Through it all, Fellowship Point harkens back to one of Howard’s End‘s big messages: ‘Only connect.’”
—Alice Cary, BookPage (starred review)

“Into every long and lazy summer, at least one great heavyweight novel must fall. . . . Dark’s brisk, generous prose is worth the weight.”
—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly (Best of July)

"A sweeping story of lifelong best will surely want to read this book. Elegantly structured, beautifully written, and altogether diverting, with a powerful message about land ownership in America."
Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Dark (Think of England) celebrates women’s friendships and artistic mentorship in this expansive yet intimate novel. 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.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"I can’t remember the last time I’ve fallen so hard for a book. Fellowship Point is about many things: friendship, secrets, legacy, love, family—but the true magic here is in the writing. Alice Elliott Dark has conjured a world so immersive I can still feel it in my bones. I mourned the finish, when I would have to leave behind the characters I grew to love. This captivating, unforgettable novel is thrillingly good.”  Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of Nest and Good Company

"Fellowship Point is a marvel. Intricately constructed, utterly unique, this novel set on the coast of Maine is filled with insights about writing, about the perils and freedoms of aging, about the great mysteries, as well as the pleasures, of life. The story about the relationships between three women unfolds, as life does, through joys and losses, confrontations and confessions, with twists along the way that change your perception of all that came before. This is a world is so closely and acutely observed that I felt I lived in it. I was sorry to leave."
Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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