At the Waters’s Edge

Posted April 17, 2015 by The Book & Alcohol Girls in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

At the Water's Edge Book Cover At the Water's Edge
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.

Set mostly in Scotland in WWII, Sara Gruen takes you to a foreign land a long ago time. The descriptions of the landscape and the feel of how it was to be in a country that is knee deep in the middle of a war zone are fantastic. You feel as if you have been genuinely transported back in time. From the clothing to the way that society worked back then, the author is able to give exceptional descriptions without having the story drag. As with Water For Elephants, she is able to make you feel the era; the smells, the sights, all with her brilliant writing style.

The story focuses on Maddie, her boorish husband, Ellis and his need to redeem himself to his father and to the rest of the wealthy society that have banished him. It took me some time, but I really came to like Maddie. Her transformation from a submissive, snobby housewife to an independent, headstrong woman who is more than capable of taking care of herself is really remarkable. I barely liked her in the beginning, but found myself loving her by the end. She truly had no concept of how to be a good person or a friend. Through her relationships with the locals in the town that she is stuck in, she is able to become a true friend, and learns that she is capable of so much more than she thought possible.  Ellis, however, was unredeemable. His behavior was horrible from the get go, and only got worse and worse as time went on. However, I feel as though this was not uncommon behavior from men in high society during that era.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Although some of the characters were without redemption, I feel that this was the point. My favorite parts were the relationships that Maddie developed with the locals at the Inn they were staying at. They had absolutely no reason to be kind to her, but they were anyway. She returned their kindness tenfold, and in that was able to become a better person. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and a good coming of age story.

4 stars and the best bottle of whiskey you can find! Enjoy!

Purchase Link – At the Water’s Edge: A Novel


More Books from Sara Gruen

Water for Elephants: A Novel
Riding Lessons
Ape House: A Novel
Flying Changes (Riding Lessons)


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