At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Title: At the Water's Edge, Author: Sara GruenAt the Water’s Edge. Finished 4-7-16, rating 4.25/5, historical fiction, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by Justine Eyre. 10 hours.

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.   from Goodreads

This was a slow but rich story about a young woman coming into her own during World War II. At first, the drunken, entitled trio of Maddie, her husband Ellis, and friend Hank, were so unlikeable that I’m sure some people stopped reading.  The self-absorption was just too much. Maddie and Ellis turned out of their wealthy Philadelphia home, headed to Scotland with Hank and his money.  They were going to find and record the Loch Ness monster, something that had brought shame to Ellis’s father.  As  they crossed the ocean headed toward the war zone instead of away from it, Maddie started to see more than just herself and her own needs.  To see her eyes opened to class, to war, to her husband, makes a very fulfilling journey.

We read this for book group and everyone liked it, most even more than Gruen’s Like Water for Elephants.  The discussion centered around Maddie’s growth, the World War II backdrop, Ellis and Hank’s relationship, and, yes, whether the Loch Ness monster is real.  As a counterpoint, Jason tried to listen to it and made it through two cds before giving up. There wasn’t enough going on for him.

14 thoughts on “At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

  1. Tami says:

    I loved this book, and totally agree about starting slow. It took awhile to realize Maddie wasn’t as unlikable as those surrounding her.

    It takes a great storyteller to make me fall in love with a story about searching for the Loch Ness monster.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Yay! So glad to see someone else really like it! I had zero interest in Nessy myself but someone in the book club had actually been there and I think that’s totally cool. No Loch Ness sightings though 🙂

  2. Wendy Runyon says:

    I haven’t read anything by Gruen yet, but this one in particular interests me. I am glad you liked this one, Stacy! I appreciate the head’s up that it is slow–I’ll keep that in mind going in when I do read it.

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