Author Sara Gruen’s books seem to all have a peculiar bent. But peculiar in a good way, because Gruen does such a wonderful job of making her characters believable and, if not likable, at least memorable, and the stories interesting.
I haven’t read all of Gruen’s books, but I liked Water for Elephants so much that I was eager to pick up At the Water’s Edge even after reading the book’s unusual description. The Loch Ness Monster? Really?
The book captivated me from the very first page and I couldn’t stop reading.
It’s 1945, and Philadelphia socialites Maddie, her husband Ellis, and his best friend Hank make fools of themselves at a fancy dancy New Year’s Eve party. Ellis relies upon his parents’ money to live, and he was on unsure footing with them anyway because he married “below him.” Their embarrassing actions push his parents over the edge, and they cut off Ellis’ funds.
To try and get back on their good side, the three decide to travel to Scotland in the midst of World War II to try and track down the Loch Ness monster – something Ellis’ father had unsuccessfully attempted years before. In fact, it appears that his father actually faked photos of the so-called monster.
The trio stays in a modest inn run by a group of Highlanders who are insulted by the Americans’ snobbish ways and apparent lack of understanding of life in a country at war. Eventually, Maddie befriends the Scots, and becomes closer and closer to them as her marriage begins to deteriorate.
Gruen does an excellent job of character development. Little by little, readers begin to see the shallowness of the two men in particular, and the plot develops in a way that makes for a compelling story.
It’s a love story and an historical novel wrapped in one wonderful book. While perhaps not as clever as Water for Elephants, At the Water’s Edge makes me want to pick up the remainder of Gruen’s books. It’s a great read.
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