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

Book Review: At the Water’s Edge by Sara GruenBuy on Amazon

In this thrilling new novel from the author of Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen again demonstrates her talent for creating spellbinding period pieces. At the Water’s Edge is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman’s awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands.

What “they” say: After disgracing themselves at a high society New Year’s Eve party in Philadelphia in 1944, Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, are cut off financially by his father, a former army colonel who is already ashamed of his son’s inability to serve in the war. When Ellis and his best friend, Hank, decide that the only way to regain the Colonel’s favor is to succeed where the Colonel very publicly failed—by hunting down the famous Loch Ness monster—Maddie reluctantly follows them across the Atlantic, leaving her sheltered world behind.

The trio find themselves in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie is left on her own at the isolated inn, where food is rationed, fuel is scarce, and a knock from the postman can bring tragic news. Yet she finds herself falling in love with the stark beauty and subtle magic of the Scottish countryside. Gradually she comes to know the villagers, and the friendships she forms with two young women open her up to a larger world than she knew existed. Maddie begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.

As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of life’s beauty and surprising possibilities.

What I think: I’ll start off by saying I LOVED Sara Gruen’s previous book, Water for Elephants, so when I saw this book coming out back in March of this year, I knew I would be reading it. The first 175 or more pages seemed to repeatedly make it clear that the lead characters were basically spoiled “high society” kids with self-entitlement issues on money and material status. 

The first part of this book seems to move at a snail’s pace. I believe the problem might stem from the irritating nature of the main characters, Maddie, her husband, Ellis, and their friend, Hank. I would bet that more than a few readers will give up on this book before learning more about the characters and why they are the way they are, especially Maddie. (I teetered on the edge of giving up on the book myself!)

I really couldn’t imagine how many more pages I could read before I gave up on the book altogether and then something changed. The last half of the book seemed to contain more purpose, but alas, it also had a somewhat predictable ending.

Sara Gruen writes well, but the story in this book didn’t have the humor or understated appeal of Water for Elephants. I’ll be waiting for reviews before I dive into Sara Gruen’s next book, but that’s just my opinion.

download About the author: Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Water for Elephants, Ape House, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. She lives in western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat.


I received a digital copy of this book through my relationship with NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and unbiased opinion.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It would be great if you would stay connected with me!! You can follow me on Twitter @DebiL1611, like me on Facebook at 2014 and Beyond, circle me on Google+, follow me on Tumblr, Instagram and Bloglovin’, subscribe on YouTube, or connect with me on LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Please make sure to visit my homepage and subscribe to my blog for more great posts on running, fitness and lifestyle topics as well as food, product, music and book reviews, and more!