Summary and book reviews of The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver

The End of the Point

By Elizabeth Graver

The End of the Point
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2013,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2014,
    368 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

A place out of time, Ashaunt Point - a tiny finger of land jutting into Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts - has provided sanctuary and 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. The children's Scottish nurse, Bea, falls in love. And 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 chaos of 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 probes the hairline fractures hidden beneath the surface of our lives and traces the fragile and enduring bonds that connect us. With subtlety and grace, Elizabeth Graver illuminates the powerful legacy of family and place, exploring what we are born into, what we pass down, preserve, cast off or willingly set free.

Excerpt
The End of the Point

On the stillest, emptiest days, you can almost but not quite imagine the place when it was lived on by its earliest people, the trapping and fishing, tying and smashing, the waves the same, the rocky beaches too, but no army base, no bisecting road or fighter planes up from Otis Air Force Base, Code Red. No houses unheated, built for summer, or mansions with heat, Wi-Fi and central air. No blinking eye on a metal gate (no gate). Neither headstones nor written alphabet. Later: Here Lies John Cornell. Here Lies Tabitha Brown. Here, a stone fishing weir at the foot of the creek. Here, a summer wetu; inside, a woman labors upright, giving birth. Did they dunk the baby in the creek, wrap him in a new red blanket, dress him, as he grew, in a pair of woolen breeches? One year, they had to find another place to grow him into a man.

A deed appointed to be recorded. New Plymouth. November the 29th 1652.

Know all men by these Presents, that I, Wesamequin, and ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The End of the Point begins with an epigraph from William Starr Dana's Plants and Their Children. How does this quote set the tone for the novel? How does it reflect the story's themes?

  2. The novel is told through three main points of view - Bea's, Helen's, and Charlie's?over a period of more than fifty years. What does each perspective and timeframe bring to the story? What would the book lose or gain if the author had set it in one era and/or followed a single character's perspective?

  3. What is Bea's relationship to various members of the Porter family? How does it evolve over time? Discuss Bea's bond with her charge, Jane. Is she too close to Jane—closer than Jane's biological mother? Do you think such a deep and close bond ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

The End of the Point is poetic and profound. Again and again, Graver's characters either articulate or exemplify the idea that, whether they understand why or how, it's only at Ashaunt Point that they are truly themselves at their most authentic, largely removed from the dramas that might characterize the rest of their lives. Readers will likely come away from Graver's novel reflecting on the special places in their own lives, longing to reconnect with or revisit them, to introduce their meaning and beauty to new generations.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (971 words).

Media Reviews
New York Times Book Review

Eloquent ….Graver’s engaging, expansive storytelling allows us to take up residence inside the minds of a host of different characters, watching as they create their own pictures of the world around them, as they invest certain places and people with mythic significance.

The Boston Globe

With her fourth and most emotionally textured novel, Graver proves herself a master chronicler of the ever-spiraling human comedy. The End of the Point is a work of uncommon gracefulness, as much in its boundless empathy as in the luminosity of its prose.

Publishers Weekly

Graver is incredibly good at evoking past, present, and future, and the ways in which they intersect..her control of time, her ability to evoke place and define character - are immense.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A lovely family portrait: elegiac yet contemporary, formal yet intimate.

Booklist

Starred Review. With a style and voice reminiscent of William Trevor and Graham Swift, Graver's powerfully evocative portrait of a family strained by events both large and small celebrates the indelible influence certain places can exert over the people who love them.

Author Blurb Stewart O'Nan, author of A World Away and Wish You Were Here
The End of the Point is intimate and rich and compelling, a sprawling saga that evokes both the wildness and fragility of the New England coast.

Author Blurb Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others
Elizabeth Graver is an uncommonly fine writer: dancingly in command of language, yet always, foremost, faithful to something quieter and more essential - call it the complexities of truth. The ambitious scope of her new novel is beautifully matched by her largeness of spirit. I would read anything this author writes.

Author Blurb Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Is it possible for a novel to be at once cunning and magnificent, epic and compressed, topical and timeless? Yes, yes, yes, in the case of Elizabeth Graver's gorgeous The End of the Point.

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Buzzard's Bay

Buzzards BayElizabeth Graver's novel is set on a (fictional) point jutting out into Buzzards Bay, which borders Massachusetts and is tucked in between the southwest coast of Cape Cod, Plymouth and Bristol Counties on the mainland. New Bedford, which was the world's leading whaling port in the nineteenth century, is the most major city on the bay.

Buzzards Bay was, as Graver suggests in her forward, originally occupied by the Wampanoag tribe and was sold to a group of thirty-four Colonial shareholders in 1652 for "30 yards of cloth, 87 moose skins, 15 axes, 15 hoes, 15 breeches, 8 blankets, 2 kettles, one cloak, 2 English Pounds in Wampum, 8 pairs of stockings, 8 pairs of shoes, 1 iron pot, and 10 shillings." The bay was given its name by colonists ...

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