At the Water's Edge

by Sara Gruen

Hardcover, 2015

Call number




Spiegel & Grau (2015), Edition: 1st, 368 pages


Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER � 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. Praise for At the Water�s Edge   �Breathtaking . . . a daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII.��Harper�s Bazaar   �A gripping, compelling story . . . Gruen�s characters are vividly drawn and her scenes are perfectly paced.��The Boston Globe   �A page-turner of a novel that rollicks along with crisp historical detail.��Fort Worth Star-Telegram   �Powerfully evocative.��USA Today   �Gruen is a master at the period piece�and [this] novel is just another stunning example of that craft.��Glamour.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member -Cee-
Though it was predictable and a little awkward shifting between storyline and WW II events, I found this an engaging book. The Scottish country setting around Loch Ness - with a wee bit of the supernatural - blended well with abundant emotional undercurrents.
A really good "comfort" read.
LibraryThing member Micheller7
I very much enjoyed Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, so I hoped that At the Water's Edge would be a good read as well. I must say that I was a little leery about the plot line - young, wealthy married couple and his friend go off to Scotland during World War II to find the Loch Ness monster.

Show More
the beginning, I found it stilted with unsympathetic characters who were not at all likable. Where was this going? Told entirely from the perspective of Maddie, the wife, we learned about her difficult childhood, culminating in the suicide of her mother, for which she blamed herself. Now in what seemed like a loveless marriage, off the three of them go to Scotland. But I kept reading and as Maddie got to know the staff at the inn they were staying at and developed friendships there, I was drawn in more and more. Ultimately, I got to really like this strange story. With a bit of mystery, some supernatural elements and of course a love story, it became a satisfying read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member wagner.sarah35
I started off uncertain about this book - I didn't even really like the narrator as a I got to know her. But by the end, I liked her, I loved the story, and really appreciated the slow transformation of the characters throughout the course of this novel. I would highly recommend this book to anyone!
LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
Although the book is very readable, it was a little too simplistic, almost like a fairy tale. On the other hand, the tale did hold my interest most of the time. There are several characters, and the author’s descriptions enabled me to picture them well in my mind. One of the major characters,
Show More
Maddie Pennypacker, the wife of Ellis Hyde, seemed very weak-minded and predictable, often allowing herself to be manipulated by others. She was almost too naive to be credible, making foolish decisions under the guise of protecting others. Her family background was not up to standard according to the Hyde family, and they did not approve of their son’s marriage to her. Although she was financially well off, due to her mother’s poor reputation her social standing received short shrift.
Ellis seemed like a ne’er do well whose only accomplishment was his station in life which was due to his fortunate upper class circumstances. He was spoiled miscreant who ordered people around, expecting to be served and kowtowed to, at all times. He was an unpleasant person much of the time. One night, in 1945, after he insulted his parents with some pretty rude and disrespectful comments, both he and Maddie were tossed out of their Philadelphia home: lock, stock and barrel. Both his parents were just as arrogant and haughty as he was, if not more so, for he learned how to behave at their knees. He looks down on others beneath his station, treating the “help” without any respect. To him, they were unworthy of his attention.
Ellis’s friend Hank, seemed like an untethered soul, lacking any kind of grounded principles. He tended to make light of everything, hoping to smooth over even the worst infractions of behavior that he witnessed. Together Hank and Ellis were irresponsible scoundrels who had no idea how to work for a living and believed it was beneath them to do any physical work anyway, even the simplest task of hanging up one’s clothes was to be handled by servants! Both men were ridiculed for not being in service fighting for their country. They were classified as 4F.
Desperate to find a way to reconcile with his family and guarantee his continued financial support, Ellis and his friend Hank Boyd concocted a scheme to go to Scotland to redeem Colonel Hyde’s reputation. Years before, the pompous Colonel had falsified pictures and made fictitious claims about sighting the Loch Ness monster. He was found out and eventually disgraced. He was persona non grata in the village of Drumnadrochit, Scotland, where the monster is supposed to reside. Together with Maddie, they made the trip across the ocean to Scotland in a foolhardy attempt to film the creature. It is wartime and the trip was unpleasant and dangerous. Up until Maddie witnessed the sight of the wounded and was attacked on the sea, she had considered herself above the fray. Soon, she began to look at life differently.
Once in Scotland, they found their lodgings disappointing. Their friend Freddie had made the arrangements for them. The Inn had no electricity, a shortage of food because of the war rationing and when Ellis was recognized as his father’s son, they were a bit unwelcome as well. The Inn was run by Angus Grant and his two helpers, Anna and Meg. Soon, Maddie discovered that she preferred their convivial company to that of Ellis and Hank. She also began to suspect that both men had lied about their draft status and questioned their personal relationship to each other. She began to feel like their foil. When Ellis noticed her change in attitude toward him, he warned Maddie not to fraternize with those beneath her position. It would give them the wrong idea. If she persisted in behaving improperly, he threatened her with medical confinement and an extreme treatment for the nervous condition with which she had once been diagnosed, although Ellis was the only one taking her pills. She rarely took medication, but went along with the charade to save face for the Hyde family.
Underlying the major idea of the book, which is the search for the monster, there are themes of class struggle, homosexuality, marital infidelity, grief, loss and substance abuse. In some way, the book felt like a Cinderella story, without the pressing financial issues. The unhappy girl finds someone even unhappier, a grieving prince of a man, and they live happily ever after making out better than all those who once ridiculed them. The moral of the story is that good will out. Happiness is possible for everyone when all the ends are tied up neatly. It is a quick read good for some brief entertainment while on vacation or commuting to and from work.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pegmcdaniel
I received a digital copy of this novel from Random House via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!

Sara Gruen is able to describe the Scottish settings in such detail in this novel that you feel you are there with her characters. For me, that wasn't enough for more than 3 Stars
Show More
because I though the storyline was lacking. World War II was raging through Europe so what kind of American citizens would go to Scotland to look for the Loch Ness Monster? Seems a bit far-fetched to me. True, the main characters are spoiled, rich, upper-crust members of Philadelphia society, but somehow, even for them, this trip could have waited until after the War.

It was difficult for me to like any of the American characters. After putting this novel down, I didn't care if or when I picked it up again. I really wanted to enjoy this book and thought I would since I loved 'Water for Elephants.' Just didn't do it for me.
Show Less
LibraryThing member librarian1204
Read as an ARC from NetGalley.
A quick read that will keep you engaged. The setting is Scotland in the final months of WWII. Specifically along the shores of Loch Ness. In disgrace and disinherited by his family, Ellis and his friend Hugh, come to Scotland to bring back pictures of the monster.
Show More
Pictures Hugh's father had attempted to take years before and had been accused of fabricating his monster pictures. With the two men is Ellis's wife , Maddie. This is not what she wants to be doing.
The trio are used to the very good life of the idle rich. They expect to be waited on and catered to. This is not going to happen at the rustic hotel they will use as their base camp. All 3 will change as they interact with the people at the inn and with each other.
Very descriptive, WWII historic material, interesting characters come together to make another good book for Ms Gruen.
Show Less
LibraryThing member NickiSlater
Sara Gruen's book centers around a woman in an abusive relationship that doesn't become obvious until she's thousands of miles from home and help. I was so engrossed in Maddie's slow recognition of the awful person her husband Ellis truly was. I was proud of the strong woman she found herself to be
Show More
in the end.
Show Less
LibraryThing member nicx27
I was really eager to read this book. I loved Water for Elephants and At the Water's Edge is set mostly in Scotland, a country I love, and has an interesting storyline, so all seemed poised for a great read. But sadly I was disappointed. The story and the writing just came across as silly and the
Show More
characters are so annoying it's untrue. The three main players, in particular, are like caricatures and nothing about them rang true. In the end, I just didn't care about what happened to any of them. Shame......
Show Less
LibraryThing member nbmars
This gripping story about three young wealthy effete socialites begins in Philadelphia at the end of 1944, when they are celebrating the New Year. Ellis and Maddy have been married for four and a half years, and Hank is the third musketeer of this inseparable group. Neither of the young men have
Show More
gone to war; Hank was flat-footed (at that time, a flat foot kept you out of the armed serves on the theory, since refuted, that flat feet caused injuries during training and physical activity), and Ellis was rejected for color blindness.

Ellis’ father is contemptuous of his son for not serving, but Ellis claims his father brought his own shame on the family by faking pictures of a Loch Ness Monster. At New Year’s, the three friends drunkenly agree to take off for the Scottish Highlands so Ellis can reclaim his honor vis-a-vis his father by capturing “authentic” photos of the monster. Money being no object, the three crossed the Atlantic, and settled into a rooming house of considerably less luxury than they were accustomed to expect.

On the ocean voyage, the three encounter men injured horribly by the war, but only Maddie is affected. Moreover, when Maddie gets to know the hard-working people who run the inn in Scotland, she finds that they have a lot more character than the two men she is with, who not only consider themselves superior to “help,” but spend most of their time goofing off and getting drunk.

As Maddie comes to understand that the monster in the Highlands is the one to whom she is married, it puts her life in peril much more than any antediluvian creature, mythical or otherwise.

Discussion: The dangers to Maddie, as a woman and a wife in the 1940’s, are real enough, and ones today’s women are fortunate enough not to have to endure. This is a lovely story, with characters both horrible and wonderful, but none of them caricatures. All of them are hard to forget, especially the courageous people Maddie befriended, and who befriended her, in the Highlands.
Show Less
LibraryThing member tmsaguid
I received At Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.

I will admit that upon picking up this book and realizing that in the beginning, it is about 3 people trying to discover the Loch Ness Monster, I was a little turned off to the story. Once I realized it
Show More
was written by the same person who wrote Water for Elephants and although having to do with the Loch Ness Monster was somehow a love story, I was certain I would love it. How does searching for the Loch Ness Monster in the middle of World War II become a love story you ask? Well, it doesn’t begin that way.

It’s high society Philadelphia and the year is 1942. Maddie and Ellis Hyde find themselves cut off financially by Ellis’ father who is already skeptical of his son’s inability to serve in the army due to being colorblind. Ellis along with his best friend Hank, decide they need to go to Scotland to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster in order to get back in his dad’s good graces. Apparently his father had tried this before to no avail. Each day the two men go off to search for the Loch Ness Monster while constantly leaving Maddie behind. Maddie begins to see how others live and recognizes the ridiculousness of her situation. Her husband whom she begins to realize may have never loved her dragged her across the ocean in the middle of a very real and very dangerous war to serve his own selfish needs.

Throughout the course of the novel, Maddie learns how to love and truly be loved in return, experiences how her actions and the actions of her selfish husband affect others, and how to make a very real difference for others just by showing compassion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you liked Water for Elephants, you will like this book as well. Sara Gruen did not disappoint. Although I wasn’t excited about the Loch Ness Monster bit in the beginning of the story, it only helps you to understand how ludicrous Maddie’s husband can be as well as how blind he is to the needs and situations of those around him. In the end, it flowed nicely into a tender-hearted romance. Well Done.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dpappas
And so, because of my husband's war with his father and their insane obsession with a mythical monster, we'd crossed the Atlantic at the very same time a real madman, a real monster, was attempting to take over the world for his own reasons of ego and pride.

This was a book that I stayed up late to
Show More
finish (definitely later than I should have). Once I started reading this and was transported to Scotland, I just couldn't put it down. While I was reading this book I was in love with it and its characters (well except for Ellis and Hank) but once I finished and really started to think about it, certain things began to lose their shine.

I admit that in the beginning I really loved Ellis and Hank. I really loved their sense of humor. The more I read the more I began to hate them. They were absolute jerks and some readers may not be able to get past that. I really grew to love Maddie so I was extremely angry at the way they treated her. I was dying for Maddie to stand up to them and was glad when she did.

The other secondary characters really add a lot to the story. I fell hook, line, and sinker for the relationship between Maddie and Angus while reading the book. When I really thought about it afterwards it seemed a bit too much like instalove at times. I liked seeing Maddie grow as a person as she became friends with Anna and Meg.

Overall this was an enjoyable read that will transport you to Scotland during WWII to follow complex and compelling characters.

[I received this book from a Librarything Early Reviewers giveaway. The content of my review is not affected by that.]
Show Less
LibraryThing member lostinthebb
I received a copy of Sara Gruen's 'At the Water's Edge' from the Early Reviewers program. It's a novel about three very privileged young Americans who go to a tiny village near Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, in Scotland at the beginning of 1945. The two young men, who look healthy, were
Show More
both declared 4-F and one is cut off from his family fortune when his father a Colonel is ashamed of his son’s color-blindness and inability to enlist. The third traveler is the wife of that young man and the protagonist, Madeline ‘Maddie’ Hyde, who’s always been a part of the pranks that her husband and his best friend pull. Their plan is to photograph the legendary monster of Loch Ness and prove that the Colonel really saw it years before. Once they arrive Maddie begins to see her husband in a new light. The villagers see all three Americans as spoiled, arrogant tourists.

I really enjoyed the way the novel unfolded, as Maddie saw her husband and his friend in a different light and began to spend more time with the villagers as the two men disappear for days at a time on their quest. There is some Scottish folklore, which I loved, and the novel itself felt rather cold and damp, which is appropriate for late winter in Scotland, especially during a blackout. I’ll read it again, which is only true of one other Sara Gruen novel so far, which was 'Ape House: A Novel'.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mwagers

I'll admit, this was my first book by Sara Gruen so I came in with no expectations. It sounded like an interesting story so I decided to give it a shot.

I was not disappointed! I loved how I slowly sunk into the book until I was totally engrossed. By the end of it, I felt like I had
Show More
gone through all the same realizations that Maddie had. It was beautifully written. Sometimes authors get too long winded when describing the scenery and what not, but Gruen was able to give you rich detail without halting the story or dragging you down. It was as if you were literally looking through Maddie's eyes and experiencing everything with her.

I would loosely call this book Historical Fiction. I feel like that implies a lot more history than what this book gave. For me, this was more of a Coming of Age novel -- just the young adult version. I'm not sure that it specifically says, but Maddie is roughly mid-20s. But teens aren't the only ones who go through major revelations about life!

This was just the book I needed to read, to help me be okay with discovering new things about myself and realizing that it's never too late to be happy.
Show Less
LibraryThing member arielfl
After having previously enjoyed Water for Elephants I was really looking forward top this book and it did not disappoint. If you enjoy historical fiction then you will want to pick up Gruen's new novel.
LibraryThing member bymerechance
Sara Gruen’s new novel, about a young American woman who gets dragged along to a Loch Ness monster chase in the Scottish Highlands by her frivolous husband and his friend, does not stand up to her earlier work, in my eyes. Ellis and Hank, wealthy playboys who aren’t serving in the war due to
Show More
medical conditions, are utterly oblivious to the war still raging and killing unfathomable numbers in the winter of 1945. Meanwhile, Maddie’s slow awakening to the war’s reality and Ellis’s unpredictable behavior is only slightly less exhausting. I found myself wishing all three Americans would leave and allow the focus on their Scottish hosts, Meg, Anna, and Angus, although truth be told I didn’t feel their characters were sufficiently developed either. The pace was also quite slow, with very little action until the second half, at which point several major plot points were thrown in haphazardly.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Misses_London
It didn't take many pages of reading before I was absorbed in this book. It's "historical fiction" if one uses that term somewhat liberally, and I do. About the first half of the book is setting the scene and building suspense, after which time the story begins by comparison to fairly race along.

Show More
enjoyed it in its entirety. I love Scotland and am familiar with the 21st century version of the scene. For me the author's descriptions of the sights and sounds and rain and damp of the area were effective enough without bogging down the pace of the story. I actually felt the main characters were believable. Ellis and Hank were perhaps a bit caricatured, but this was not something that distracted me while reading. I found the antagonists just despicable enough to keep reading late into the night while hoping with each page turn to read of their downfall.

The plot had some weaknesses, but there was nothing there distracting enough to spoil the story nor the reading experience for me. The second half of the book, as mentioned by other reviewers, does become rather gothic and romantic. That could be a turn-off or irrelevent, all depending on.

I really enjoyed the book and have since bought one of the author's other books [Water For Elephants]. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction and/or romance.

I received this book as a Library Thing Early Reviewer, but that did not influence my review.
Show Less
LibraryThing member porch_reader
I read [Water for Elephants] years ago and remember enjoying it. I wasn't as excited about Gruen's follow-up [Ape House], but I was intrigued by the description of this book. Set during World War II, [At the Water's Edge] is the story of Maddie Hyde, a newlywed who goes with her husband Ellis and
Show More
his friend Hank, both of whom have been kept out of the war by disqualifying medical conditions, to search for the Loch Ness monster. But once they arrive in Scotland, Maddie realizes that the monster is not the only mystery that she's is faced with. In fact, nothing in her life is as it seems. But the friends that she makes at the inn where they are staying give her the strength to figure out what's real and what's just an illusion.

This story required me to suspend disbelief a few times. I would have liked a bit more of the historical context to be reflected in the story. But I highly enjoyed this book because I liked Maddie. She was easy to root for. Together with the women that she meets at the inn, she is a force to be reckoned with. This was an enjoyable story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member dizzyweasel
In this novel Maddie, her husband, and their friend, all privileged New Englanders, travel to Scotland at the tail end of WWII to boost Maddie's husband's reputation. Both he (Ellis) and Hank (the friend) have been turned down for military service (or at least say they were), so to avoid being
Show More
thought cowards, they determine to find the Loch Ness monster. In America, the war seemed like a distant fantasy, something to be talked of politely, but not real to the ranks of the upper class. Maddie enjoys a life of wealth and privilege, though she bears the emotional scars of childhood abuse by her perfectionist mother and absentee father. When the trio travels to Scotland, Maddie finds herself through her relationship with the women working at the inn and her attraction to its mysterious innkeeper. As Maddie drifts further away from her vacuous life of dissipation and privilege, she develops empathy, responsibility, and a greater understanding of the world around her. Her husband and Hank, by contrast, sink deeper into their alcoholism and careless dismissal of the life and death struggles of the people around them.

It took me a very long time (150 pages, not kidding) to figure out that the above is basically the extent of the plot. If you're waiting for something to "happen", let me save you the trouble: it doesn't. Not really. The book has a breathless climax of sorts, but the narrative action is mostly absent. We instead follow Maddie as she grows as a person incrementally, first feeling ashamed of herself and her companions for lolling around all day while everyone else toils hard to make ends meet, then moving to help around the inn, to becoming an important part of the lives of those around her. Through her awakening to the struggles and feelings of the townspeople, she discovers the great contrast between them and her husband.

Sara Gruen's strengths have always been more in her ability to evoke feelings and ambience rather than complex characterization or big themes. This is a tidy, pleasant historical novel intended to appeal to readers who enjoy tidy, pleasant historical novels. Gruen succeeds. The monster, the war, the suffering are all background set dressing to Maddie's personal journey. Ellis and Hank are one-dimensional (villains at worst, immature man-children who need to check their privilege at best). The townspeople are good salt-of-the-earth sorts, but we are more told than shown. Maddie's greatest strengths are probably her cognizance of her upper class privilege and her apology for it. At the Water's Edge is an enjoyable, if a little fluffy, novel.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Kikoa
I loved "Water for Elephants" and "Ape House". I was delighted to be able to have a chance to read "At the Waters Edge". Thank you NetGalley.
Immediately upon starting chapter one I was met with the gang of aristocratic, elitist, contrived characters that I hated. Hank and Ellis at the top of the
Show More
list. I read a review that referred to the main players as Caricatures that don't ring true. And I can not agree more. The last fourth of the book was easier to take, but this novel does not live up to the other above mentioned. I can ,however, see it as a movie.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jennyifer24
Madeline Hyde, her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank travel across dangerous Atlantic waters in early 1945 to hunt for Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster. Partly to prove himself to his father, and partly to get as close to the war as possible to regain his honor after color-blindness
Show More
prevents him from serving in the war, Ellis "needs" this trip, and so Maddie and Hank agree to go. They are not welcomed warmly in Scotland and the tension and action builds from there.

This book was right in my happy reading place and I spent a couple of late nights unable to put it down. I'd read anything set in WWII Scotland and this book combined WWII storylines with Loch Ness monster-hunting in an interesting and believable way. There were parts that seemed a little cliche or predictable, but the storyline, strong character development and the details of the time period and setting easily made this book a great read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member susiesharp
Rich party kids Ellis, his wife Maddie and their best friend Hank could care less that there is a war going on, all they want to do is party, but when a night of partying goes a bit too far and Ellis causes his parents some embarrassment they are tossed from the family home. To try to get back into
Show More
his parent’s good graces the threesome decides to travel to Scotland to find the great monster that caused quite a stir when Ellis’ parents were involved in the search years ago. What starts out as a whim turns into something completely different.

Both Ellis and Hank are exempt from fighting in the military Ellis is color blind and Hank has flat feet so they both seem so oblivious to the fact that there is a war going on that they travel by ship into Nazi infested waters to the great Loch ness but what they see on the ship and in Scotland still has no effect on the two men but Maddie is starting to see the world, her husband and his friend with very different eyes. Once in Scotland we see a very different side to Ellis and it is not a pretty side he seemed like a happy-go-lucky party boy but there is a dark side a very dark side and Maddie does not like what she sees.

I loved Maddie's journey throughout this book from party girl without much will of her own to a strong woman on her own two feet. I really enjoyed this book and read it very quickly, I enjoyed the growing friendships Maddie made in Scotland and the side stories about the locals.

The writing of this book, the descriptions of Scottish countryside and how the war affected the locals were so good it gave a bit of a day in life of these people so affected by the war. Plus we have the loch ness monster and who doesn’t enjoy a loch ness story.

All in all I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it.

4 Stars

I received this book from Netgalley and the publisher for a fair and honest review.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Set in the final months of World War II, At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen explores love and loss in a changing world. One does not need to look far for real-life monsters given what is happening in Europe, but Ellis, Hank, and Maddie find themselves crossing the ocean to do just that. This
Show More
inexplicable journey sets up the rest of the story as Maddie must reevaluate everything she thought she knew.

There is no doubt that Ms. Gruen can write. As she sets the stage for everything Maddie faces, there is a poetry to her words which are mesmerizing. However, in this particular novel, the writing cannot make up for the flat story. There is a heavy-handed use of convenient plot twists that make the story more of a fairy tale than a realistic piece of historical fiction. One can make an argument that the story is magical realism, which makes sense in many ways. However, the general impression is that Ms. Gruen’s intention is for this to be a serious historical fiction piece with a little magic thrown in for good measure. This makes the fairy tale aspect unexpected and out of place.

The other disconcerting element of the novel is how quickly everything happens. Maddie realizes the truth about her marriage, falls in love with someone else, and makes life-altering decisions all within a matter of pages. In the case of falling in love, she does so without speaking more than a few words to her new love interest. The whole scenario is just odd, and as with the convenient plot devices, feels inauthentic to the underlying story.

Sara Gruen will always be synonymous with her breakout novel, Water for Elephants, and with good reason. It is the perfect marriage of beautiful writing, a fascinating setting, interesting characters, and a compelling story. Unfortunately, At the Water’s Edge fails to measure up to her previous success. As beautifully written as it is, there is a lack of connection between the characters which keeps them aloof. The setting is gorgeous, but it never becomes anything more than a backdrop. Also, the characters fail to remain static and loosely developed, The rapid pace of the story prevents it from becoming anything more than a superficial romance and diminishes any of the otherworldly elements. Had Ms. Gruen not had such a spectacular first novel, At the Water’s Edge would be perfectly decent in spite of its flaws. However, knowing what she is capable of writing does nothing but highlight the story’s deficiencies and make a reader wish for what could have been.
Show Less
LibraryThing member reb922
After a disaster of a New Years Eve party that leads to a fight between her in-laws and her husband Madeline finds herself in Scotland with her husband Ellis and their best friend Hank at the tail end of WWII. The three friends are from money, the men had been medically excused from fighting and
Show More
all seem woefully ignorant of what had been going on in Europe. Either unaware or just dense the men felt this was a good time to resume a hunt for the loch ness monster abandoned by Ellis's father decades ago. Maddie begin to grasp the danger and stress these people have been through and begins to take control of her life. The two men are pretty awful and their insensitivity and attitude makes them pretty intolerable. The change in Maddie and the supporting characters save this book for me. However I credit Gruen in her ability as a writer that she can write such a loathsome character as Ellis.
Show Less
LibraryThing member melaniehope
This was a pretty good book, but definitely not at the caliber of Sara Gruen's other books. This story takes place during WW2. Maddie, her husband Ellis and their best friend, Hank are all very privileged and spoiled. When Maddie's father in law has financially cut off Ellis, the trio travel on the
Show More
spur of the moment to track down the fabled Loch Ness monster. It is really hard to like these characters as they are arrogant, selfish and very self absorbed.
While staying at a small inn in the Scottish Highlands, the three youngsters find themselves unraveling away from the glitter and money of Philadelphia. Tensions mount and their true selves are revealed for better and worse.
I enjoyed the book, but since I had read other books by Sara Gruen, I was expecting the same lovely and detailed writing and quickly saw that this book would not have that. Still a good book to read. I received a complimentary copy via
Show Less
LibraryThing member CAS2199
A married couple, Ellis and Maddie, live a very privileged life in Philadelphia during the year of 1942. Basically they are socialites and a whole lot of nothing other than spend nights attending parties, drinking too much, and hanging out with their best friend, Hank, and his flavor of the month.
Show More
On New Year's Eve at a high society Philadelphia party, they embarrasses themselves by drinking too much and causing a scene. Of course, this gets back to Ellis' father who has had enough with his son and uses this as the catalyst to throw him out along with his wife, Maddie. Hank and Ellis should be serving in WWII; however, both, conveniently have been exempt for medical reasons. Ellis is color blind and Hank is flat footed. This, again, embarrasses Ellis' father, a former Colonel, to no end. Ellis realizes that in order to gain back his father's trust, he has to do the one thing that his father failed at years ago: capture a picture of the infamous Loch Ness monster. He feels this will restore his family's honor as well. Hank, Ellis and Maddie travel to Scotland in the middle of WWII and what occurs will change all three of their lives forever. Sara Gruen's At the Water's Edge is an atmospheric historical tale that examines love, friendship, and the sacrifices during war.

I truly felt for Maddie in At the Water's Edge. She is stuck in a heartless marriage to a very spoiled little man-boy. Ellis is manipulative, condescending and an all-around monster. I truly couldn't stand him. I wanted Maddie to get as far away from him as possible. I was even wondering why she even bothered marrying him in the first place? I was hoping the Loch Ness monster would consume him in one swift bite. To make matters worse, he is an alcoholic and addicted to Maddie's pills for her nerves, which she doesn't even take. His parents as well as Ellis feel she had a "nervous condition," which is why she has them.

But Maddie, although a rich and sheltered woman, grows so much on her trip to Scotland. She experiences first hand the effects of war, how the other half lives and even befriends the women at the inn they are staying at. She grows for the better on this trip and realizes that her marriage to Ellis ins't going to work. What she is feeling isn't even love. This is all because someone has caught her eye and makes her feel things she didn't know were possible.

Ellis and Hank had this weird bromance going on in At the Water's Edge. Hank could see how harsh Ellis could be, but always made excuses for him or helped him smooth things over with Maddie. Hank was truly blind to Ellis' problems, but wasn't as crazy as him, because he was sympathetic and nicer to Maddie. Nonetheless, I couldn't quite figure out their toxic friendship that I thought might be something more.

The setting of Scotland is very vivid in At the Water's Edge. I loved the village and the people as well as the bustling pub life. To see how life was impacted by WWII was also interesting. The air raids, rationing, the many people fighting that never came back all added to the atmosphere of this story. Gruen did a great job bringing it to life.

What was most surprising about At the Water's Edge was the new life that Maddie creates for herself and the budding romance that ensues. She went to Scotland not being able to even make a bed and by the end of the book, she could do that and much, much more. She starts to care for the people at the inn and even a certain person who is running the inn.

While I felt things were wrapped up a little too nicely in At the Water's Edge, I still enjoyed the book and being transported to Scotland in the 1940s. For those who enjoy a little history in their romance, I encourage you to check this one out.
Show Less




0385523238 / 9780385523233
Page: 1.414 seconds