At the Water’s Edge: A Novel
by Sara Gruen
I don’t usually read a book like At the Water’s Edge. I lean more toward action thrillers and mysteries, but I thought that a change of pace might do me good. I’m glad that I went out on a limb and read this. I don’t know exactly how to describe At the Water’s Edge. It takes place in Scotland near the end of World War II, so that would give it a historic label. The story involves a trio of wealthy twenty somethings from the states who are spoiled rich kids on a quest to find the Loch Ness monster, while staying well lubricated from morning ’till night; so I guess that At the Water’s Edge might be called a buddy film if it was a movie. But then Maddie starts to realize that this party life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and begins to discover the real side of life and love, so maybe it could be called a coming of age novel, or maybe a romance. And then there are some mystical elements and even the possibility that the Loch Ness monster is real. So what can we call it? Amazon gives it two main labels, Historical, and Literary. While edelweiss.com adds Contemporary Women, so I guess that you will have to figure it out for yourself.
Ms. Gruen brings this story to life. It felt like a peek into a lifestyle that I only know from film and fiction. Hank and Ellis (Maddie’s husband) think that the world is divided into two groups, the wealthy and everyone else, whose sole purpose is to serve their privileged class. When Maddie sees that everything isn’t quite the way she always thought; she starts to doubt that she can continue live that way. She connects with the common people, and that threatens her relationship with Ellis. He can’t have his wife becoming a commoner.
Is this a great book? Not quite, but it was very enjoyable. It gives you a lot to think about. I imagine that At the Water’s Edge would make a great book club selection. It would have a plenty of ideas to discuss.
I give At the Water’s Edge 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you liked the movie Water for Elephants, then I’m sure you will be captured by At the Water’s Edge.
I received a Digital Review Copy from Netgalley.
In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.
After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.
The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.
As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (March 31, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1 pound
About the Author
Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Water for Elephants, Ape House, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. Water for Elephants was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011.
She lives in Western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.