Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

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.

April 26, 2016 - Posted by | 4 Star Books | ,


  1. I’ve heard mixed things about this book so I’m really glad to see your group liked it. I love Gruen!

    Comment by BermudaOnion | April 26, 2016 | Reply

    • In all honesty, most of the group loved it more than me 🙂 I did like it, but the discussion made it better for me.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 28, 2016 | Reply

  2. 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.

    Comment by Tami | April 26, 2016 | Reply

    • 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 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 28, 2016 | Reply

  3. Love your review, Stacy. Will put it on the list.

    Comment by Mary | April 27, 2016 | Reply

    • It’s worth a try, but give it some time 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 28, 2016 | Reply

  4. I also loved this, but was very very glad about Maddie evolving!

    Comment by rhapsodyinbooks | April 27, 2016 | Reply

    • Without that I’m not sure I could have finished!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 28, 2016 | Reply

  5. 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.

    Comment by Wendy Runyon | April 28, 2016 | Reply

    • It does make me want to read more of her books. She has a gift.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | April 28, 2016 | Reply

  6. I read this last year and enjoyed it – great book for a discussion. Your post had me wondering if Gruen is planning a new one. I liked Ape House and Water for Elephants too but have not read Riding Lessons – have you?

    Comment by Rosemary Wolfe, NoChargeBookbunch | April 30, 2016 | Reply

    • This is the first of hers I’ve read and I’m really looking forward to more.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | May 2, 2016 | Reply

  7. […] At the Water’s Edge – Sara Gruen, Orphan Number Eight – Kim van Alkemade, Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi. I read all of these for my book club.  My favorite was At Water’s Edge but they were all good. […]

    Pingback by End of the Year Survey « Stacy's Books | December 27, 2016 | Reply

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