7 Sept 2015


Book Review / At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

In her stunning new novel, Gruen returns to the kind of 
storytelling she excelled at in Water for Elephants: a historical timeframe in an unusual setting with a moving love story. Think Scottish Downton Abbey.

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). 

Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

Published:     31st March 2015
Publisher:  Spiegel & Grau
Author Website:  Click here
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher


PLOT/STORYLINE:  A very compelling read.  This is a slow paced story with not too many twists and turns, which usually I don't get on well with but I loved this.   First off is the era, 1940s.  It is not a place in time I tend to visit much in books so don't have too much experience with it but after reading this I am definately wanting to see if there are any more stories out there from a similar time period.  At the start you have a 'threesome' type dynamic (but without the sexyness).  You have Maddie and Ellis who are a couple and you have Hank who is their friend.  The story starts in Philadelphia and continues in Scotland.  In Philadelphia, you see a life of 'High Class Living' in the 1940s, very much a man's world and as you travel through the story and end up in Scotland you see a very different style of living.  Honestly, for me this was very much a story about character development rather than plot and suspense etc. and the part of the story about the Loch Ness Monster was really a very small side line story that, to be honest, I didn't really focus that much on in the story.  Admittedly this is why they went to Scotland in the first place so it does need to be in the story but its definitely more about what the characters do and how they react before and after they get there. 

CHARACTERS:  Now this was the best part of the story for me.  By a long shot, my favourite character is Maddie in this story.  We see her at the beginning in this very 1940s high class man's world just towing the line and going along with what she thinks she should do.  As the story goes on we see her having to make a lot of decisions that she probably wouldn't have done if she hadn't made that journey to Scotland.  She is a character that is far more stronger than you expect her to be and I was definitely rooting for her!

SUMMARY:  I really enjoyed this story by Sara Gruen.  I had hoped that I would have since I loved Water for Elephants.  A great drama.  Even if you are not sure you like 1940s fiction, give this one a go it might surprise you...

(from Goodreads)

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.