Longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction
Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts, has anchored life for generations of the Porter family, who summer along its remote, rocky shore. But in 1942, the U.S. Army arrives on the Point, bringing havoc and change. That summer, the two older Porter girls—teenagers Helen and Dossie—run wild while their only brother, Charlie, goes off to train for war. The children’s Scottish nurse, Bea, falls in love. And youngest daughter Janie is entangled in an incident that cuts the season short.
An unforgettable portrait of one family’s journey through the second half of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Graver’s The End of the Point artfully probes the hairline fractures hidden beneath the surface of our lives and traces the fragile and enduring bonds that connect us.
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My new novel, The End of the Point, begins in 1942 and ends in 1999 and is set almost entirely in a summer community on a two-mile long spit of land on Massachusetts' Buzzards Bay. Inhabiting this story was, for me, an intricate and steady pleasure. Some of the time, I became the Scottish nanny character, Bea. Other days, I was a troubled young man, Charlie, born into privilege, trying to find himself during the Vietnam War, or his mother, Helen, a restless, fiery intellectual who loses her brother in World War II and later pins her highest hopes on Charlie, her eldest son.
Through all the time travel and imagining, my mind kept returning, again and again, to the paths, rocks and wind-scoured ledges of the little peninsula--the "almost island" of Ashaunt Point. Ashaunt takes its inspiration from a real place where my husband's family has spent summers for generations; my relationship to both the real place and my invented one began as that of an outsider. Over time, as my writing brought me closer, I began to experience Ashaunt Point as the fourth central character in my book.
If place is central to The End of the Point, so, too, is the power of the written word. The people in this novel read. They read Wallace Stevens and W.H. Auden, nature guides, A Farewell to Arms, A Secret Garden, Anna Karenina, the Johnny Chuck books. They read romance novels, newspapers, real estate ads, and--oops!--each other's diaries. And they write. Diaries, but also nature journals, letters of complaint, love letters, war letters. Postcards. Protest signs. Elegies. Messages in bottles, bobbling out to who knows where.
Place. The written word.
It is with particularly keen pleasure that I picture this novel making its way into the world, where it can meet its readers. Thank you for welcoming it.
A place out of time, Ashaunt Point in Massachussetts has provided sanctuary and anchored life for generations of the Porter family, who spend their summers along its remote, rocky shore.
But in 1942, the U.S. Army arrives on the Point, bringing havoc and change. The two older Porter girls—teenagers Helen and Dossy—run wild. The children's Scottish nurse, Bea, falls in love. And the youngest daughter, Janie, is entangled in an incident that cuts the season short and haunts the family for years to come.
As the decades pass, Helen, and then her son Charlie, return to the Point, seeking refuge from the rapidly changing times. But Ashaunt is not entirely removed from events unfolding beyond its borders. Neither Charlie nor his mother can escape the long shadow of history—Vietnam, the bitterly disputed real estate development of the Point, economic misfortune, illness, and tragedy.
An unforgettable portrait of one family's journey through the second half of the twentieth century, The End of the Point artfully illuminates the powerful legacy of family and place, exploring what we are born into, what we pass down, and, what we preserve, cast off or willingly set free.
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