The well-packaged family drama has always fascinated me. Perhaps it is because I grew up in a large family. I seek to compare the experience of others, certain it is bound to be more exciting than my own. So I read and wonder and imagine. I must say that I did my best (still do) to create family drama where there is none. Hence my undying interest in fiction.
The End of the Point (2013) sounds like just the story to arouse my interest. The fourth novel of Elizabeth Graver chronicles the lives of the affluent Porter family during summers spent on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts from World War II through the end of the twentieth century.
The East Coast has a special fascination for me, as a native Californian. And to spend the summer on the ocean was my dream as a child.
This saga begins during World War II. An army base has been established near the summer colony. The eldest child of the Porter family, son Charlie, is away training to be a pilot. Helen and Dossy are teenagers, and Jane, the youngest daughter, is under the care of the nanny, Bea. It is a summer of change and disruption.
The characters take turns narrating this decades-long tale that follows four generations of family members. Jan Stuart reviewed The End of the Point in The Boston Globe Books section.
“Graver limns her characters’ strivings with an acuity at once poetic and anthropologic. If we feel rueful that Helen’s and Charlie’s turbulent narratives end up sidelining the more mundane trajectories traversed by Janie and Dossy, that might reflect our own closet desire to reverse the clock to a time, say 1942, when life choices and family roles seemed simpler, if not preordained. As the young Helen writes when her future dangles in the balance, “I would like to stay just where I am, or go backwards.” Her words strike a chord of wistful ambivalence that resounds throughout this lovely novel and echoes beyond its final page.”