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In Alice Elliott Dark’s second novel, “Fellowship Point”, Agnes Lee and Polly Wister have been friends for about 80 years. Their intertwined families own homes on a Maine peninsula, and part of the book’s drama stems from their efforts to preserve the land and keep it out of the hands of developers.
“The issue of land, land ownership, land conservation has always been of great interest to me,” Dark says in this week’s podcast. “I got there pretty quickly as I developed this story. I decided I wanted to write something like a 19th-century-style novel, and I wanted it to be modern. Women didn’t own land in the 19th century. They didn’t make decisions about the land, even if they owned it, and having women landowners deal with these issues seemed to me like a modern version of a great older novel. 19th century old.
Katherine Chen visits the podcast to discuss her new novel, “Joan,” which imagines Joan of Arc as a born fighter who becomes a vengeful warrior.
“I think the central image that fascinates us with Joan of Arc all these years later is the mental image of a woman in armor on horseback going off to war,” Chen says. “I think that image keeps us captivated to this day because it’s as startling and surprising as it is empowering.” We also remain captivated, says Chen, by the “sheer improbability” of Joan’s story.
Also on this week’s episode, Elizabeth Harris has some news about librarians caught up in the culture war over banned books; and Elisabeth Egan and MJ Franklin talk about what they read. John Williams is the host.
Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:
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