At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen – Book Review

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

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.

My Review

This is the type of book that I love falling into and spending time in a world of characters who I love and others who I come to despise.  At the Water’s Edge is a tale of finding one’s true worth amid challenging times and challenging relationships.

The time is 1945 and WWII is still being fought.  Madeline Hyde is a young married woman of society.  Her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank are home not serving their country because of flat feet and color blindness.  Ellis is a spoiled man with a huge sense of entitlement and Maddie comes from a family of wealth but also much dysfunction and unhappiness.

Feeling the heat of avoiding service, Ellis decides to escape to Scotland with his wife and best friend to prove that the Loch Ness monster exists.  A couple of decades before Ellis’ father had gone to Scotland for the very same reason.  He returned home with the reputation as a kook and fool.  Ellis is hell bent on proving everyone wrong while also earning his father’s respect and his own respect among those who see him as a draft dodger.

They find passage on a ship crossing the Atlantic carrying supplies.  It proves to be a very dangerous crossing filled with hazards and near death after being attacked by an enemy submarine.  They reach Scotland and make their way to an inn that was arranged for them by a friend.  It is here that Maggie’s relationship will be tested and we will be witness to her emergence as  a woman of strength and convictions.  She finds her place among the locals and in a village that becomes her home for the duration of the war.

I began reading this book without any idea of what was to come and I got drawn into it and cheered and jeered as the story progressed.  I loved the characters and all their strengths and weaknesses and quirks.  I also enjoyed the touches of magic that gets thrown in.  Throughout all the daily trials and tribulations we do get to find out if there really is a monster living in the loch.  I enjoyed the way that story line was concluded as well.

This is a book about love of one’s self and finding out what love for another truly is and should be.  I finished this book with a contented sigh and smile.

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