The End of the Point

Those lucky enough to grow up with a regular "summer place"--be it a lake cabin, a beach house or, in Elizabeth Graver's The End of the Point, a compound on Massachusetts's Buzzards Bay--know how memories of indolent days spent amid nature take on a mythic quality later in adulthood. Spanning three generations of the WASP-y Porter family, Graver mines that vein of longing in a novel redolent of wild blackberries and keenly aware of the entitlements of privilege.

Through the innermost feelings and experiences of Helen, a rebellious teen who over time becomes a demanding mother to the fragile Charlie, and Bea, the family's Scottish maid, Graver makes the Porters' summer residence a stage on which her characters act out the cultural shifts of the second half of the 20th century. By the time Charlie enters adulthood--during the drugged uncertainty of the Vietnam era--the idyllic getaway spot has degenerated to a place where, after dropping out of college, he can hole up in a rustic cabin with a stockpile of books and Valium.

As Graver points out in her introduction, the land that provides Charlie with succor was, of course, chiseled away from Native Americans centuries earlier. But the potential loss to Charlie when real estate development threatens to alter his childhood touchstones is palpable, regardless of his ultimate claim on the place. This sprawling, wise novel is a reminder that summer memories can pull on the heart like no others. --Cherie Ann Parker, freelance journalist and book critic

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