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The End of the Point

3.17  ·  Rating Details ·  1,793 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
Elizabeth Graver’s fourth novel, The End of the Point, is a family saga in a summer community on Buzzard’s Bay from 1942 to 1999. Of the new book, her publisher writes:

“For the Porter family, summers at Ashaunt Point – a mile and a half long finger of land on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts – have anchored life, providing sanctuary for generations. But in 1942, everything ab
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jaclyn My feelings exactly, Judy and Val. This is one of the worst books I've ever attempted to read. I pushed to get through it but finally had to give it…moreMy feelings exactly, Judy and Val. This is one of the worst books I've ever attempted to read. I pushed to get through it but finally had to give it up when I got to a chapter that I thought must have been taken from some other book. Nothing matched with anything that I'd read that far, or was that just me?

Community Reviews

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Sluggish Neko
Oct 12, 2013 Sluggish Neko rated it did not like it
This is what I get when I randomly pick books off book award lists: white people whining about their privileged, over-educated lives in post-war America. Oh, it's so hard having a summer home overrun with soldiers and having too much money or having too many babies and then having those babies grow up and constantly disappoint you. Whatevs.

Look, I enjoy a well told story-- even if it's about pointless, rich people-- but this one meanders all over the place. I liked Bea, the Scottish nanny who gi
Mar 15, 2013 Patricia rated it did not like it
This novel is inaccurately titled - it should have been entitled, What is the Point? I hung in there and finished the book, but it was somewhat of a slog through spring mud. After reading the early sections of the book, I thought that it was going to be a multi-voiced view of a beloved summer destination as seen through the eyes of several family members. It started out that way, but then Graver abandons the really compelling and likable characters, leaving us with the shrill, harsh, self-center ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Naomi rated it it was ok
Read my full review:

My opinion: I felt this book started off incredibly strong, but rapidly dropped off following the period of WWII. I could never quite get into this book or grasp what this book was about after this period of time and felt that the author tried to cram too much of a storyline/periods of time into too short of a book. Because of this, I couldn't connect with any of the characters past 1942 either. My recommendation would have been to either make the book lo
Rebecca Foster
(See my full review, and interview with Elizabeth Graver, at Bookkaholic.) In an astonishing historical sweep, from Ashaunt Point’s first colonial settlers through the cultural upheavals of the twentieth century, Graver’s family saga with a difference questions parent-child ties, environmental responsibility, and the dictates of wealth and class. Her complex, elegiac tale, reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Liza Klaussmann’s Tigers in Red Weather, offers multiple points of vie ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Judy rated it it was ok
Ashaunt Point on Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts is the location. The year? 1942. That is when it begins with Scottish nursemaid, Bea, her charge, young Janie Porter, Janie's older sisters, Helen and Dossy, and brother, Charlie. Each summer at Ashaunt Point brings changes, both good and bad. Love, heartbreak, illness and sometimes brand new lives. There are storms, both physical and emotional. This is the Porter-family chronicle through the year 1999.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The writi
Apr 25, 2013 Catherine rated it really liked it
This novel satisfied my New England Beach House fetish and love of intricate characters, covering the long-established Porter family tradition of summering on Ashaunt Point in Massachusetts. It begins in 1942, from the point of view of Bea, the Scottish nanny to the youngest daughter, Jane, as she makes a difficult choice about her future. The book then jumps ahead five years, to the oldest daughter, Helen, attending college in Switzerland. This section is told in diaries and letters--not my fav ...more
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
Feb 26, 2013 nomadreader (Carrie D-L) rated it it was amazing
(originally published at

The basics: Spanning three generations of the Porter family and fifty years of their relationships with their hired help, The End of the Point focuses on the family at four different times in history, beginning in the 1950's. Much of the novel takes place at their summer home in Ashaunt, Massachusetts.

My thoughts: Reading The End of the Point made me realize how much I love present-future narrators. As the story of the Porter family unfo
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Mar 05, 2013 Lori L (She Treads Softly) rated it really liked it
The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver is a family saga that basically covers three generations, with the connection being their summers spent at the coast in Ashaunt, Massachusetts. Graver opens the novel with a brief passage about the arrival of the first Europeans to the point. Then she proceeds to 1942, when the Porter family, three daughters and entourage arrive at the coast to find the army occupying a large portion of it with barracks and viewing platforms. This portion of the narrative ...more
Feb 19, 2013 Suzanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"On the point you can still find bones - fox sculls, rabbit femurs, porpoise vertebrae, and, on the shore in the crevice between two hard-lodged stones, a milk tooth lost by a child no longer a child."

A tale spanning generations, The End of the Point immerses the reader in a specific geographic location - Ashaunt Point, which is a tiny peninsula reaching into Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts. From 1942 to the present day, author Elizabeth Graver takes the reader on a journey where we witness the P
Jun 12, 2013 Mom rated it it was ok
A multi-generational story of a wealthy New Jersey family with a summer house in Massachusetts at "the end of the point." The writing was satisfactory, and the first section of the book, about the family during World War II, was interesting. The character Bea, a Scottish woman who worked for the family as nanny, is a delightful character and her story intrigued me.

Unfortunately, as the story jumped forward to the 50's, the 70's and finally the late 1990's, the focus shifted to other characters
Jun 02, 2013 Margerywieder rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's a family saga that focuses on a few members of a large extended family and moves back and forth in time a bit. I guess some people aren't comfortable with that, but for me, it provides a richness that many more plot-driven novels don't. Watching characters grow from childhood to adulthood (and into grandparenthood and beyond) got me thinking about life's inevitable transitions, sometimes in a sad, but always real and thought-provoking way.
Gloria Bernal
Jul 15, 2013 Gloria Bernal rated it did not like it
Rarely do I not finish a novel but just couldn't find myself caring about any of the characters enough to continue when I got about halfway through this. The ratings and reviews indicated we could expect gorgeously written, exquisite prose, and that Graver's writing is simply stunning on every page (?) that it dazzles and illuminates?? As a reader, I felt totally misled, but maybe that beautifully written prose was all in the second half.

In the first half it starts out with The Porter family and
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
A touch of Upstairs Downstairs here because one of the main story lines follows a long-serving Scottish nanny as well as generations of the family she serves, set largely at their summer house on Ashaunt Point in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts. Time period: from World War II thru to more present times. I admit I sometimes got a little confused when the points-of-view changed or the time period suddenly jumped forward. The Porter family obviously had money, but they don't flaunt it, and nowhere is t ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Virginia rated it it was amazing
THE END OF THE POINT is a moving and impressive novel. I loved how Graver uses a slow accumulation of detail to layer the story. The setting becomes more and more vivid with each scene as we see how much this summer home and landscape means to several generations of a family. The three principle characters--a Scottish nanny, an ambitious and complex mother, and her troubled son--are each unique and beautifully drawn. Years pass, and I felt I knew them through it all.

As a fellow novelist, I foun
Jul 09, 2012 Casey rated it it was amazing
The lyrical flow of this novel reminds me of Graver's short story "The Mourning Door," one of my absolute favorite stories. She seems to effortlessly ground the reader in the real — the war, the Summer of Love, the Buzzards Bay oil spill — while at the same time, weaving together these three characters' stories in a poetic, almost ethereal way. I thought each third was my favorite until I read the next. As each character's arc linked with the others, so too did they stand independent of one anot ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Kristen rated it liked it
Judging by the fact that I have a bookshelf/tag specifically for books set in my home state, it seemed pretty likely that I would read this. Granted, it takes place in a fictional town, but with knowing the area and knowing a decent amount about the Cape, it was easy to figure out a generalized location.

The book is good. I enjoyed it, reading the whole thing in a day. I loved seeing street names that I recognized (looking at you, Dartmouth Street), an amusement park that used to be just on the
Nov 22, 2013 Cynthia rated it liked it
For me "End of the Point" is a difficult book to react to. I enjoyed it but didn't love it. It's mostly about a place, an island off the coast of New Jersey, where a family gathers each summer and has adventures. They love the place and have memorable times there but ultimately the story feels circular. Maybe it's because there is so much disappointment while the characters seem to have lots of privileges that most of us don't have but waste them. To her credit Graver is exemplary at portraying ...more
Pamela Barrett
Jan 21, 2013 Pamela Barrett rated it really liked it
The End of the Point takes place on Ashaunt Point in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts; a place once owned and traded by American Indians. It’s a beautiful wild coastline populated by a few old money families who summer there. Unfortunately the peace and the terrain of the Point is changing; first because of the war in 1942 when the army puts up a Base and Look Out for German and Japanese attacks, then in later years when developers start buying the land. The story centers on one family, the Porters, ...more
Kristin Strong
Apr 21, 2013 Kristin Strong rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for family stories, especially if they involve a seaside vacation home (see "Maine", by Courtney Sullivan, among many others). This one is a gem. Told from the points of view of a mother, a son, and a nanny who worked for the mother's family for many years, the novel weaves their stories and their changing lives with the traditional retreats to the family retreat in Ashaunt, Massachusetts. Although the jacket copy mentions an incident that takes place in the first part of the book, ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Sallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't been this captivated by a novel in a very long time. Graver's technique of differentiating generations in one family is extremely effective and extraordinarily well executed. I love how she makes a scene easily accessible and immediate--then throws in a little tidbit about the future to oddly satisfy a niggling concern the reader is having at just that moment. Her depiction of an upper-class, old-monied New England family is spot on, with its secrets, its anomolies, and its predjudices ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Clara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The End of the Point is an interesting book, neither fish nor fowl. Part diary entries, part history of an extended family, part love song to the special place -Ashaunt- that binds the characters together. Like the characters, the land is both powerful and fragile, subject to war, weather, development, oil spills and, of course, the sea. But even as the world changes, the families of the point hold tight to their traditions -Beetle cat races, picnics on a favorite rock, children free to wander f ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Bonnie rated it really liked it
A portrait of a New England family who spend summers on Ashaunt Point in Massachusetts. The Porters are wealthy, but place emphasis on family above all else. In 1942, the U.S. Army arrives bringing havoc and change. The two older girls, Helen and Dossy, run wild, their Scottish nurse falls in love and Janie is involved in an incident that haunts the family for years. As years pass, Helen and her son Charlie return more often than the others and Helen begins keeping a journal about the flora. She ...more
Dec 19, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a real gem. I didn't care for it at first and wondered why my daughter recommended it to me, but by picking it up determinedly, I began to see its beauty! It is more than a family saga, it is a time capsule of events, some of which I can only feel by reading and comparing to what I have been told by my own parents. I loved that it was not a tedious diary of what this family did all day, every day, but that the decades passed and the people aged and changed in large spans of time . I ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Janet rated it it was amazing
This book has a quiet beauty that made it a true pleasure to read. I always gravitate toward books set in New England, and although this is set on a "fictional" point of land that is a summer playground for wealthy New England families, the details make it easy to figure out the location on Buzzards Bay. The characters are complex, but never tedious, and the interplay between the different generations of this family and the land itself makes for a great story, and well told. Graver's language fl ...more
Angela M
Oct 24, 2013 Angela M rated it liked it
3 stars - I liked it but didn't love it . I could connect with Bea , the Scottish nanny but the only member of the Porter family , I really liked was Mr . Porter for most of the book . Although , in the end we learn through Charlie what the summer home has meant to the family and what they meant to each other . This wasn't always evident early in the book and I found it hard to really like these people .
Apr 18, 2017 Jean rated it liked it
I can see why a lot of people rated this book so low - if you are looking for a book with a beginning, middle and end this is not it. This book felt much more like getting small snippets into a family's lives and legacies and if you don't like it when books jump around or focus more on characters rather than plot you won't like this. I found the book oddly comforting (maybe because I read it on an island on the east coast) and just enjoyed getting lost in it, although I would have trouble tellin ...more
Mar 01, 2013 Jan rated it liked it
The End of the Point is a well-chronicled story of members of the Porter family and their relationship with the land, sea, and each other at Ashaunt Point, Buzzards Bay, MA, where they spend summers.

Elizabeth Graver divides the novel into four sections, starting in 1942 and spanning nearly 60 years. Since quite a few years pass between sections and there are many characters, we delve into the lives and minds of some, only glimpse others. One we follow is Bea, a gentle Scottish nurse to the Porte
Apr 17, 2013 Sandie rated it really liked it
The year is 1942, the place Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts. The reader is introduced to this place where well-to-do families summer, and to the Porter family. In this first section, the Point has new residents. The Army has built a compound where soldiers train and watch for spies or enemies trying to land. The Porter family is there, as always. The two oldest girls, Helen and Dossy, run wild. The son is in the military and posted overseas. The littlest Porter, Janie, is coddled and raised by the ...more
Mar 21, 2013 Eileen rated it it was amazing
The End of the Point revolves around the rambling Buzzards Bay summer home of the wealthy Porter family.
‘Aug 1. Everyone is arriving today with cars and help, and it feels like an actual change of season. I had the strange idea as the cars came down the road that the children and I were the native animals, and now the actual humans will arrive and spoil our peace’.
Spanning sixty years, the story is related in several segments - part diary, part narration. Overall, I was beguiled, and hated to
RoseMary Achey
Mar 28, 2013 RoseMary Achey rated it really liked it
In Elizabeth Graver’s new novel The End of The Point the Porter family's Summer Home on Ashaunt Point, Massachusetts is truly the novel's main character. This home is where three generations of the Porter Family come to celebrate, to live and to die. Ashaunt Point lives and breathes like a main character; and it is subject to outside influences such as World War II, Oil spills, the dot com bubble and the Vietnam War.

The book opens in 1942 as the Porter family begins their summer holiday. They fi
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Elizabeth Graver’s most recent novel, The End of the Point, is set in a summer community on Buzzard’s Bay from 1942 to 1999. The novel was one of ten works of fiction selected for the long list for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction and received glowing reviews from the New York Times (where it was an Editors' Pick), Seattle Times, Bos
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“Largely, now, it was not anger he felt, but rather a kind of bone-scraping, quiet, ever-present sorrow. To come to the place that was supposed to stay the same, to come and find it changed. Dr. Miller had warned him against what he called the 'geographic cure.' You can't fix yourself by going somewhere else, he'd said. You'll always take yourself along.” 0 likes
“Table salt hardens here. Books mildew. Diaries flip open. Private Property: Please Turn Around.” 0 likes
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