At the Water's Edge

by Sara Gruen

Hardcover, 2015

Call number





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


While her brother, Ellis, and his friend try to find the Loch Ness monster in an attempt to get back into her father's good graces, Maddie is left on her own in World War II-era Scotland and experiences a social awakening.

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 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 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.
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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 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.

At 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.… (more)
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, 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.
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LibraryThing member knittingmomof3
Historical fiction is a genre I dearly enjoy, romance is a genre I dearly dislike and unfortunately At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen was far more of the later. WWII is mentioned almost as an aside throughout the book. Wealthy socialites Maddie and Ellis Hyde embarrass themselves and the family at a New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia and are cut off financially. Ellis decides to finish what his father failed at in hopes of returning to his good graces and having their finances restored, so Ellis, along with Maddie and another socialite Hank, head to Scotland to hunt for the elusive Loc Ness monster. War rages on in Europe while Maddie is left alone in Scotland as Ellis and Hank search for the elusive Loc Ness. At this point all hopes of me enjoying this book have ceased to exist, not due to the lack of Gruen’s writing ability, which is beautifully executed, rather the storyline was not one I enjoyed. For those who enjoy a coming of age in another country/romance story with a touch of historical fiction, then this may be the perfect book. Unfortunately it was not my cup of tea, however, read other reviews as many truly enjoyed At the Water’s Edge.… (more)
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 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.
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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. 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.
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LibraryThing member quzy
When I first downloaded At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen, I only meant to read a little to get a feel for the story, since I was already reading something else. BUT, I could not stop! I was immediately swept away to a small village in the Scottish Highlands called Drumnadrochit, and the year was 1942. I was in a small cemetery looking at a black granite headstone with two names - Captain Angus Grant and Agnes Mairi Grant, newborn daughter of Captain Angus and his wife, Mairi. It was WWII and the war had taken many loved ones by now. Captain Grant was one of those casualties, but they only knew the month and the year of his death, they did not know the exact day. And poor Agnes was stillborn. Mairi was heartbroken, and so was I…

Fast forward to January, 1945. This is where the story really begins. We meet 3 wealthy spoiled young Americans, Hank, Ellis and Maddie going on an adventure to the same small village in Scotland to find proof of The Loch Ness Monster. The dynamics of these three people are that Hank and Ellis are best friends, almost inseparable, and Maddie, who won the hearts of both Hank and Ellis the summer she graduated boarding school, is Ellis' wife. As the story unfolds, we learn that Hank and Ellis were rejected by the army, so they did not have to serve in battle. This is a sore spot with Ellis' father, who served honorably and basically thinks his son a coward. But the three of them, Hank, Ellis and Maddie, spend their days (and evenings) carelessly drinking, partying and untouched by the war… until, after a particularly embarrassing evening of drinking, and Ellis' parents receiving phone call after phone call, things change. A huge fight ensues, insults are thrown back and forth until the ultimate insult… Ellis tells his father that the family could not be any more embarrassed than by his father faking those Nessie photos. Faking Nessie photos?! Yes...

Years before, after the Great War, Ellis' father became obsessed with The Loch Ness Monster. He traveled to Drumnadrochit, where the famed beast lived, researched and hunted it down. He became famous for photographing it, Scotland yard requested he not harm it, and he became a celebrity… but then the rumors started that he faked the photographs. He became a laughing stock. He quietly went back home.

So, as a result of the "ultimate" insult, Ellis & Maddie get thrown out of the house, Ellis' allowance is cut, and life is not going to be as easy as it once was… until Ellis and Hank hatch a plan to get back in the good graces of Ellis' father… They will find The Loch Nest monster, photograph it and prove that it's real, thus saving Ellis's father from disgrace, proving Ellis is not a coward and becoming the much loved son again. This is how we find Hank, Ellis and Maddie, who reluctantly agrees, in Scotland.

But everything I've just told you is a very very small part of the story. Sara Gruen weaves this back story into a haunting tale of love, loss and compassion. And she does this with not only a great plot, but by her ability to create such depth in her characters and their surroundings that the pages of the book disappear and you are left standing in Drumnadrochit, in the Scottish Highlands. We feel how it is to live in a small village, trying to survive the shortages of food and small comforts like warmth. We feel the pain of loss due to our men going to war. And we can feel the need to grasp for happiness when it fleetingly appears. Maddie is the backbone to this story, and we witness, through her eyes and heart, not only the gripping story of Drumnadrochit, but the story of a young woman growing within herself, her marriage and learning about the world around her that her privileged life never allowed her to see before.

I loved this book! The story, the characters, the way the characters interacted with one another, the friendships, the way Ellis, Hank and Maddie discovered that money wasn't everything and war equals out everyone. But my favorite part of the story was Maddie's awakening. Loved her and loved her voice in the story.

Not only will you be at the water's edge, but you'll be at the edge of your seat with this haunting tale and one woman's journey to self discovery. If you're a fan of historical fiction, women's fiction or just a Sara Gruen fan, READ this book! Sara Gruen knows how to write historical fiction!
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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 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.
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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 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......… (more)
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 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.… (more)
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 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.
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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 in the end.
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 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.
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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 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.… (more)
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 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.
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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 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.

I 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.
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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 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.… (more)
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 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.
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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 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'.
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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 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.]
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LibraryThing member ALoyacano
My real rating for this book is 3 1/2 stars. The story is written very well and the last third were gripping, but the majority of the book left me annoyed with the characters and the storyline.

My biggest issue was there were so many parts of the story that it felt muddled. The Scottish landscape, a monster, WWII, class structures, mental illness, possible homosexuality, abuse, was all just too much for one story--nothing seemed to be the focus.

I say all of this, but I really did enjoy reading the book. It was a quick read and her writing style is beautiful. It would make a perfect weekend/beach read. I honestly think this would make a really great movie too.
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LibraryThing member mikitchenlady
At the Water's Edge opens with yet another drunken bacchanal, where Maddie, her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank are enjoying the high life in Philadelphia society during WWII. Ellis and Hank haven't enlisted due to medical reasons (color-blind and flat-footed), and really have no other purpose in life than to party and live off their parents' wealth. Ellis succeeds in embarrassing his parents enough that they cut off most of his money, so he and Hank concoct a plan to show up his father by going to Scotland to find the Loch Ness monster - his father was unable to do this years ago, bringing great shame upon himself and the family when he faked finding the beast. The three set off and find less than hospitable lodgings in a local inn, where the boys spend most of their days drinking and monster hunting, abandoning Maddie to fend for herself. She gradually endears herself to the staff there, and realizes what a sham her marriage truly is. There's more that happens here, but I'll spare the details in order to not reveal the plot.

I liked the story well enough, but it took me a long time to have any empathy for Maddie. I found all three major characters despicable at the beginning of the book. Hard to feel sorry for people who are hung over most of the time when they bring it on themselves and seem to have no value to the rest of the world other than drinking more than their fair share of alcohol. I found most of the characters too one-dimensional. Ellis was just mean, money grabbing, arrogant, and maybe even a liar about his color-blindedness. Hank was more genial, but enabled Ellis's bad ways. Maddie was a victim - her parents didn't love her, her mother threatened her with a lobotomy, and her husband neglected and mistreated her. I wish the author had done more with Ellis and his relationship with Hank - if they truly were gay, that would have been an interesting story and would have given him more depth, still allowing much of what happened to take place.

Wish I had better things to say - really liked Water for Elephants but this one is only average.
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0385523238 / 9780385523233
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