The End of the Point
By Elizabeth Graver
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062184849, March 2013, 352pp.)
The Short of It:
Although places and people can change with time, memories can linger on forever.
The Rest of It:
The year is 1942 and the Porters have arrived at their summer home on Ashaunt Point, a tiny piece of land along the coast of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. With them, are their three daughters, Dossie, Helen and Janie. Dossie and Helen, the teens of the family arrive with a new sense of independence whereas young Janie still requires the help of Bea, their Scottish nanny. Although they always look forward to the trip each summer, this particular summer is different. Soldiers have taken over several of the homes on the Point, fences have been installed and roads have been laid. The landscape has changed, perhaps permanently. Nevertheless, the Porters do their best to vacation as usual but when something happens to Janie their time there is cut short.
This is a sweeping, multi-generational saga that spans nearly sixty years! The story is told in four parts and takes us from 1942 to 1999. As the Porters struggle with the effects of war, mental and physical illness and the births and deaths throughout the years, what remains true is the peace and solace they find at the Point. What makes this a bittersweet tale is that after the summer of ’42, the Point they know and love is really only present in their memories. The shifting landscape and the development over the years is something that the family notes, but chooses not to dwell on. To them, it will always hold the magic that it did many summers ago.
This was quite a story but a story that centers specifically around people and place. To say that nothing much happens, would be an understatement. There are wars fought, children born, degrees earned, and family members struggling with mental illness. These are large issues with the potential to make or break a family but Graver doesn’t choose to dwell on any one aspect for too long, which gives this novel a slight domestic air yet at the same time drilling into you that our time on this planet is brief. I found the passage of time to be alarming and sad and by the end of the book, I was exhausted for this family.
Of the four parts, the beginning and the end were the most poignant to me. Graver’s handling of the characters and of time in general was impressive throughout, but the ending really did me in. It was powerful and touching and written with such a keen sense of place, that I could literally smell the sea air. It took me right back to when we’d rent a beach house as a family and spend summers gazing out at the ocean. My kids were so little then and it’s been years since we’ve done that, but I can still recall, quite vividly, the way the breeze felt upon my skin and how the sand felt beneath my feet. Those years are golden and always will be.
If you love multi-generational tales or have ever held a place dear, you will love this book.
Good news! I am giving away a copy! Details below.
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This giveaway is for one copy of The End of the Point and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from the publisher. Only one entry per person. Giveaway closes on March 31, 2013 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.