Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

At the Water's Edge

At the Water's Edge

3.7 99
by Sara Gruen

See All Formats & Editions

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


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.

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.

Praise for At the Water’s Edge
“If I needed a reminder why I am such a fan of Sara Gruen’s books, her latest novel provides plenty. Unique in its setting and scope, this impeccably researched historical fiction is full of the gorgeous prose I’ve come to expect from this author. And even after the final page, its message still resonates with me: The monsters we seek may be right in front of us. In fact, the only fault I can find with this book is that I’ve already finished it.”—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time
“I devoured this book. Once again Sara Gruen has proven herself to be one of America’s most compelling storytellers. You might be tempted to rush to get to the answers at the end—but don’t, or you’ll miss the delectable journey that is Gruen’s prose.”—Kathryn Stockett, New York Times bestselling author of The Help
“Magical . . . At the Water’s Edge skillfully transports us to a small, tenacious Scottish village in the grip of war, and into the heart of Madeline Hyde, a woman who is a stranger to herself until forces convene to rock her awake. Sara Gruen is a wizard at capturing the essence of her historical setting, and does so here in spades, but it’s Maddie’s unexpected transformation that grounds and drives the novel.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife
At the Water’s Edge is a rich, beautiful novel. Elegantly written and compulsively readable, it is at once a gripping love story, a profound examination of the effects of war on ordinary women, and a compelling portrait of female friendship.”—Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gruen’s (Water for Elephants) riveting fifth novel follows Philadelphia socialite Madeline Hyde; her husband, Ellis; and his best friend, Hank, on a quest to Loch Ness in January 1945 as they seek proof of the legendary monster, which Ellis’s father allegedly photographed 13 years earlier. Once the trio is ensconced in the tiny village of Drumnadrochit, Hank and Ellis begin disappearing for days at a time, leaving Maddie alone back at the inn with no ration card, no practical skills, and no emergency gear. She soon bonds with the locals—even Angus, the inn’s brooding, standoffish owner—and her newfound friendships help her cope with household chores and air raids alike. As the days drag on, Maddie begins to uncover truths about her family, as well as secrets about Ellis, that force her to reimagine her entire life as she knows it. A slow start gives way to mystery upon mystery, building to a gripping climax. Though some aspects, particularly an ambiguous brush with the supernatural, are a little pedestrian, Gruen’s beautiful setting and deeply sympathetic characters ensure a memorable read for new and returning fans alike. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Three spoiled brats from Philadelphia go to Scotland to look for the Loch Ness monster in the middle of World War II."I pointed out, as gently as I could, what I'd hoped was obvious: that it made no sense whatsoever to throw ourselves into the middle of an ocean crawling with U-boats on a quest to find a monster that probably didn't even exist," explains Maddie Hyde as she embarks on that very journey with her husband and their best friend. If only she could have gotten this across to Gruen (Ape House, 2010, etc.), who is not likely to replicate the success of the best-selling Water for Elephants (2006) with this silly novel. Unlike the other brave boys of their generation, Ellis and Hank are not off fighting Hitler; they are 4-F due to color blindness and flat feet, respectively. Instead of hanging around town being sneered at by their friends and family, they scoop up Maddie and take off for Scotland, where their dubious plan is to redeem the reputation of Ellis' father, who supposedly faked a sighting of Nessie a decade earlier, by this time really finding the monster. After a gruesome trip through the Battle of the Atlantic, they arrive at the tiny village of Drumnadrochit, where they take rooms at a run-down public house run by a crew from Central Casting: a gruff, wild-looking innkeeper, a beautiful red-haired barmaid, etc. While Ellis and Hank spend their days getting wildly drunk and monster-hunting, Maddie befriends the locals and learns to make a bed and mash potatoes. Various types of forbidden love, deception and skullduggery ensue. Gruen's handling of air raids, food rations, sad telegrams and reports from the front makes the thinness of the story's premise all the more awkward. At heart, this is an unlikely romance novel. A little too unlikely.
From the Publisher
“Breathtaking . . . a daring story of adventure, friendship, and love in the shadow of WWII.”Harper’s Bazaar
“A gripping, compelling story . . . [Sara] Gruen’s characters are vividly drawn and her scenes are perfectly paced.”The Boston Globe
“A page-turner of a novel that rollicks along with crisp historical detail.”Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Powerfully evocative.”—USA Today
“Gruen is a master at the period piece—and [this] novel is just another stunning example of that craft.”Glamour
“A captivating tale.”—Us Weekly
“Utterly winning.”—The Miami Herald
“A compelling, enthralling read, a novel which captivates and rewards, paying off in a series of emotional and narrative twists . . . comfort reading of the highest order.”—The Globe and Mail
“A super steamy love story.”—Good Housekeeping
“[Gruen] conveys the lure of the Scottish Highlands. . . . At the Water’s Edge captivates with its drama, intrigue and glimpses of both the dark and light of humanity.”BookPage

“A heartwarming story about life, and the places it can potentially take you.”—InStyle
“A natural for the book-club set.”—Booklist

“If I needed a reminder why I am such a fan of Sara Gruen’s books, her latest novel provides plenty. Unique in its setting and scope, this impeccably researched historical fiction is full of the gorgeous prose I’ve come to expect from this author. And even after the final page, its message still resonates with me: The monsters we seek may be right in front of us. In fact, the only fault I can find with this book is that I’ve already finished it.”—Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time
“I devoured this book. Once again Sara Gruen has proven herself to be one of America’s most compelling storytellers. You might be tempted to rush to get to the answers at the end—but don’t, or you’ll miss the delectable journey that is Gruen’s prose.”—Kathryn Stockett, New York Times bestselling author of The Help
“Magical . . . At the Water’s Edge skillfully transports us to a small, tenacious Scottish village in the grip of war, and into the heart of Madeline Hyde, a woman who is a stranger to herself until forces convene to rock her awake. Sara Gruen is a wizard at capturing the essence of her historical setting, and does so here in spades, but it’s Maddie’s unexpected transformation that grounds and drives the novel. As her husband and best friend search the surface of the Loch, desperate for a sign of the elusive creature, Maddie learns to plumb her own depths, and comes fully alive to the world around her.”—Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife
At the Water’s Edge is a rich, beautiful novel. Elegantly written and compulsively readable, it is at once a gripping love story, a profound examination of the effects of war on ordinary women, and a compelling portrait of female friendship. While delving into powerful themes, Sara Gruen never loses sight of what matters: her characters. This story of one privileged young woman, coming of age in a time of impossible upheaval and terrible choices, will keep you riveted until the very last page.”—Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
“Intoxicating . . . Sara Gruen has an exquisite eye for detail, and she evokes the haunted—and haunting—Scottish landscape with her signature passion, freshness, and scope. Atmospheric and gritty, the compelling tale of Madeline’s struggle to redefine herself in a world gone mad will linger long after you turn the final page. I love this marvelous, marvelous book.”—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

At the Water's Edge

A Novel

By Sara Gruen

Random House LLC

Copyright © 2015 Sara Gruen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-385-52323-3


Scottish Highlands, January 14, 1945

"Oh God, make him pull over," I said as the car slung around yet another curve in almost total darkness.

It had been nearly four hours since we'd left the naval base at Aultbea, and we'd been careening from checkpoint to checkpoint since. I truly believe those were the only times the driver used the brakes. At the last checkpoint, I was copiously sick, narrowly missing the guard's boots. He didn't even bother checking our papers, just lifted the red and white pole and waved us on with a look of disgust.

"Driver! Pull over," said Ellis, who was sitting in the backseat between Hank and me.

"I'm afraid there is no 'over,'?" the driver said in a thick Highland accent, his R's rolling magnificently. He came to a stop in the middle of the road.

It was true. If I stepped outside the car I would be ankle-deep in thorny vegetation and mud, not that it would have done any more to destroy my clothes and shoes. From head to toe I was steeped in sulfur and cordite and the stench of fear. My stockings were mere cobwebs stretched around my legs, and my scarlet nails were broken and peeling. I hadn't had my hair done since the day before we'd sailed from the shipyard in Philadelphia. I had never been in such a state.

I leaned out the open door and gagged while Ellis rubbed my back. Wet snow collected on the top of my head.

I sat up again and pulled the door shut. "I'm sorry. I'm finished. Do you think you can take those things off the headlights? I think it would be better if I could see what's coming." I was referring to the slotted metal plates our one-eyed driver had clipped on before we'd left the base. They limited visibility to about three feet ahead of us.

"Can't," he called back cheerfully. "It's the Blackout." As he cranked up through the gears, my head lurched back and forth. I leaned over and cradled my face in my hands.

Ellis patted my shoulder. "We should be nearly there. Do you think fresh air would help?"

I sat up and let my head flop against the back of the torn leather seat. Ellis reached across and rolled the window down a crack. I turned toward the cold air and closed my eyes.

"Hank, can you please put out your cigarette?"

He didn't answer, but a whoosh of frigid air let me know he had tossed it out the window.

"Thank you," I said weakly.

Twenty minutes later, when the car finally came to a stop and the driver cut the engine, I was so desperate for solid ground I spilled out before the driver could get his own door open, never mind mine. I landed on my knees.

"Maddie!" Ellis said in alarm.

"I'm all right," I said.

There was a fast-moving cloud cover under a nearly full moon, and by its light I first laid eyes on our unlikely destination.

I climbed to my feet and reeled away from the car, thinking I might be sick again. My legs propelled me toward the building, spinning ever faster. I crashed into the wall, then slid down until I was crouching against it.

In the distance, a sheep bleated.

* * *

To say that I wished I wasn't there would be a ludicrous understatement, but I'd only ever had the illusion of choice:

We have to do this, Hank had said. It's for Ellis.

To refuse would have been tantamount to betrayal, an act of calculated cruelty. And so, because of my husband's war with his father and their insane obsession with a mythical monster, we'd crossed the Atlantic at the very same time a real madman, a real monster, was attempting to take over the world for his own reasons of ego and pride.

I would have given anything to go back two weeks, to the beginning of the New Year's Eve party, and script the whole thing differently.


Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, December 31, 1944

"Five! Four! Three! Two!"

The word "one" had already formed on our lips, but before it could slide off there was an explosion overhead. As screams rose around us, I pitched myself against Ellis, tossing champagne over both of us. He threw an arm protectively around my head and didn't spill a drop.

When the screams petered out, I heard a tinkling above us, like glass breaking, along with an ominous groaning. I peeked out from my position against Ellis's chest.

"What the hell?" said Hank, without a hint of surprise. I think he was the only person in the room who hadn't jumped.

All eyes turned upward. Thirty feet above us, a massive chandelier swung on its silver-plated chain, throwing shimmering prisms across the walls and floor. It was as if a rainbow had burst into a million pieces, which were now dancing across the marble, silks, and damask. We watched, transfixed. I glanced nervously at Ellis's face, and then back at the ceiling.

An enormous cork landed next to General Pew, our host at what was easily the most anticipated party of the year, bouncing outrageously like a bloated mushroom. A split second later a single crystal the size of a quail's egg fell from the sky and dropped smack into his cocktail, all but emptying it. He stared, bemused and tipsy, then calmly took out his handkerchief and dabbed his jacket.

As everyone burst into laughter, I noticed a footman in old-fashioned knee breeches perched near the top of a stepladder, pallid, motionless, struggling to contain the biggest bottle of champagne I'd ever seen. On the marble table in front of him was a structure of glasses arranged so that if someone poured continuously into the top one, they would eventually all be filled. As a rush of bubbles cascaded over the sides of the bottle and into the footman's sleeves, he stared in white-faced horror at Mrs. Pew.

Hank assessed the situation and apparently took pity on the fellow. He raised his glass, as well as his other hand, and with the flair and flourish of a ringmaster boomed, "One! Happy New Year!"

The orchestra struck up "Auld Lang Syne." General Pew conducted with his empty glass, and Mrs. Pew beamed at his side—not only was her party a smashing success, but it now had a comic anecdote people would speak of for years.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne ...

Those who knew the words sang along. I had refreshed my memory that afternoon in order to be ready for the big moment, but when cork met crystal, the lyrics were knocked straight out of my brain. By the time we got to running about slopes and picking daisies fine, I gave up and joined Ellis and Hank in la-la-la'ing our way through the rest.

They waved their glasses in solidarity with General Pew, their free arms looped around my waist. At the end, Ellis leaned in to kiss me.

Hank looked to one side, then the other, and appeared baffled.

"Hmm. I seem to have misplaced my date. What have I done with her?"

"What you haven't done is marry her," I said and then snorted, nearly expelling champagne through my nose. I had sipped my way through at least four glasses on an empty stomach and was feeling bold.

His mouth opened in mock offense, but even he couldn't pretend ignorance about Violet's growing desperation at the seemingly endless nature of their courtship.

"Did she actually leave?" he said, scanning the room a little more seriously.

"I'm not sure," I said. "I haven't seen her in a while."

"Then who will give me my New Year's kiss?" he asked, looking bereft.

"Oh, come here, you big lug." I stood on tiptoe and planted a kiss on his cheek. "You've always got us. And we don't even require a ring."

Ellis threw us an amused side eye and motioned to Hank that he should wipe my lipstick off his cheek.

Beyond him, the footman was still balanced on the second to highest rung of the stepladder. He was bent at the waist, trying to aim the bottle at the top glass, and had gone from pale to purple with the effort. His mouth was pressed into a grim line. I looked around to see if reinforcements were coming and didn't see any.

"Ellis? I think he needs help," I said, tilting my head in the footman's direction.

Ellis glanced over. "You're right," he said, handing me his glass. "Hank? Shall we?"

"Do you really think she's left?" Hank said wistfully, his lips hovering near the edge of his glass. "She was a vision tonight. That dress was the color of the gloaming, the sequins jealous stars in the galaxy of her night, but nothing, nothing could compare to the milky skin of her—"

"Boys! Concentrate!" I said.

Hank snapped back to life. "What?"

"Maddie thinks that man needs help," said Ellis.

"That thing's enormous," I said. "I don't think he can hold it on his own."

"I should think not. That's a Balthazar," said Ellis.

"That's not a Balthazar," Hank said. "That's a Nebuchadnezzar."

The footman's arms were quaking. He began pouring but missed. Champagne fell between the glasses, splashing onto the table and floor. His gloves and sleeves were saturated.

"Uh-oh," said Hank.

"Uh-oh indeed," said Ellis. "Mrs. Pew will not be pleased."

"I rather suspect Mrs. Pew is never pleased," Hank said.

Rivulets of sweat ran down the footman's forehead. It was plain to see that he was going to fall forward, right onto the glasses. I looked to Mrs. Pew for help, but she had disappeared. I tried to signal the General, but he was holding court with a replenished cocktail.

I dug my elbow into Ellis's side.

"Go!" I said urgently. "Go help him."

"Who's she talking about?" said Hank.

I glared at him, and then some more, until he remembered.

"Oh! Of course." He tried to hand me his glass, but I was already holding two. He set his on the floor and yanked his lapels in a businesslike manner, but before he and Ellis could mobilize, help arrived in the form of other servants bearing four smaller but still very large bottles, and three more stepladders. Mrs. Pew glided in behind them to make sure all was under control.

"Now those are Balthazars," said Hank, with a knowing nod. He retrieved his drink from the floor and drained it.

"No. Those are Jeroboams," said Ellis.

"I think I know my champagne," said Hank.

"And I don't?"

"I think you're both wrong. Those are Ebenezers," I said.

That stopped them.

I broke into tipsy giggles. "Ebenezer? Get it? Christmas? The holidays? Oh never mind. Someone get me another. I spilled mine."

"Yes. On me," said Ellis.

Hank spun around and set his glass on the tray of a passing waiter. He clapped his hands. "All right, who's up for a snowball fight?"

We toppled outside and made snow angels right there in front of the Pews' home and all the cars and liveried drivers that were lined up waiting for guests. I gathered one snowball and managed to land it on Ellis's chest before screeching and running back inside.

In the vast foyer, Ellis helped brush the snow off my back and hair. Hank hung his jacket over my bare shoulders, and the two of them guided me to a trio of ornate, embroidered chairs near a roaring fire. Hank, who had had the presence of mind to grab my mink stole on the way back in, shook it off and draped it over the edge of the rosewood table in front of us. Ellis went in search of hot toddies, and I peeled off my gloves, which were stained and soaked.

"God, look at me," I said, gazing down at myself. "I'm a mess."

My silk dress and shoes were ruined. I tried in vain to smooth out the water spots, and checked quickly to make sure I still had both earrings. The gloves were of no consequence, but I hoped the stole could be saved. If not, I'd succeeded in destroying my entire outfit.

"You're not a mess. You're magnificent," said Hank.

"Well, I was," I lamented.

I'd spent the afternoon at Salon Antoine having my hair and makeup done, and had eaten almost nothing for two days before so my dress would drape properly. It was a beautiful pomegranate-red silk, the same material as my shoes. It matched my ruby engagement ring, and all of it set off my green eyes. Ellis had given me the dress and shoes a few days earlier, and before the party I had presented myself to him like a flamenco dancer, twirling so the skirt would take flight. He professed his delight, but I felt a familiar pang of sorrow as I tried, yet again, to imagine exactly what he was seeing. My husband was profoundly colorblind, so to him my ensemble must have been a combination of grays. I wondered which ones, and how many variations there were, and whether they had different depths. I couldn't imagine a world without color.

Hank dropped into a chair, leaving one leg dangling over its arm. He pulled his bow tie open and undid his cuffs and collar. He looked like a half-drowned Clark Gable.

I shivered into his jacket, holding it closed from the inside.

Hank patted his chest and sides. He stopped suddenly and lifted an eyebrow.

"Oh!" I said, realizing what he was looking for. I retrieved the cigarette case from his inside pocket and handed it to him. He flipped it open and held it out in offering. I shook my head. He took a cigarette for himself and snapped the case shut.

"So, how about it then?" he said, his eyes glistening playfully. "Shall we go get us a monster?"

"Sure," I said, waving my hand. "We'll hop on the next liner." It was what I always said when the topic came up, which was often, and always after boatloads of booze. It was our little game.

"I think getting away would do Ellis good. He seems depressed."

"Ellis isn't depressed," I said. "You just want to escape Violet's clutches."

"I do not," he protested.

"You didn't even notice when she left tonight!"

Hank cocked his head and nodded, conceding the point. "I suppose I should send flowers."

"First thing in the morning," I said.

He nodded. "Absolutely. At the crack of noon. Scout's honor."

"And I think you should marry her. You need civilizing, and I need a female friend. I have only you and Ellis."

He clutched a hand to his heart, mortally wounded. "What are we, chopped liver?"

"Only the finest foie gras. Seriously, though. How long are you going to make her wait?"

"I'm not sure. I don't know if I'm ready to be civilized yet. But when I am, Violet can have the honors. She can pick a mean set of china."


Excerpted from At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen. Copyright © 2015 Sara Gruen. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of At the Water's Edge, 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. Water for Elephants was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz in 2011. 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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

At the Water's Edge: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 99 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I rarely write reviews here, but I feel compelled to because I love Sara Gruen's writing and have since her first book. At the Waters Edge is steeped in WW II history but its also a microcosmic look at a slice of life far away from but deeply affected by the war. Quite simply, it's a love story at a time when people didn't know where their next meal was coming from or if they would live to eat that meal. I refuse to describe the content of the novel because I don't like synopsizing a plot in depth; this ofyen is self-serving and tends to destroy the story for others. Suffice to say, I loved this book. It is my personal favorite kind of story. I recommend it to anyone looking for a cozy, wrap-yourself-up in a different time and place experience. Sara's writing style from Water fof Elephants is exhibited here. You truly can hear her personal voice in every scene. If you loved Water for Elephants, you don't want to pass up At the Waters Edge. And while you're at it, read Riding Lessons followed by Flying Changes. Different from her others, but no less compelling. Brava, Madam Gruen! You'vecaptured my loyalty once again
Mirella More than 1 year ago
Maddie is married to Ellis who comes from a wealthy family. Hank is Ellis' best friends and the two are inseparable. Because Hank has flat feet and Ellis is color blind, they were not called up to serve in World War II. The Colonel is Ellis' father, and he believes the flat feet and color blindness are just an excuse to escape serving. After a terrible family fight, the trio travel to Scotland deterimined to photograph the Loch Ness Monster, something the Colonel had attempted to do many years prior. In this way, Ellis hopes to reconcile with his father.  It is when the three arrive in Scotland that matters begin to deteriorate. Ellis and Hank begin to drink very heavily. Maddie is often left alone at the inn where they are staying, where she is an outsider, and there is enmity towards any strangers. The heavy drinking begins to affect Maddie's marriage and Ellis' behavior turns cold and hateful towards her.  What is strong within this novel is how the characters change and develop over time. All three of the main cast undergo tremendous alterations in personality, motivation, and behavior. Sometimes, the changes happened so swiftly, that it was hard to believe. Having said this, the story is still very engaging and I was fascinated by it. The author writes well and the storyline kept my interest throughout. A little bit on the dark side, it has a very rich plot and strong characterization. A very enjoyable story. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was quite disappointed in this book.  The first half is quite boring, seemingly a long 180 pages to let the readers know Ellis and Hyde are rude, self-absorbed, spoiled rotten brats.  I kept reading in the hopes the book would get better, which it did.  The last half of the book seemed to contain more purpose, although a somewhat predictable ending.  If this is one of the author's best works, I doubt I will read any other of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Water for Elephants. This read to me like a teen romance novel with historicsl facts interspersed as needed. I was very disappointed
AlexandriaNY More than 1 year ago
The potential of the setting, characters and plot was great.  Sadly, the writing was pedantic and disappointing..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never reviewed but am compelled to share my thoughts here. I was so impressed with Water for Elephants andoved Ape House. I felt while reading this one like I was reading a very simple romance, almost Harlequin. Hrr storyline is weak and under deve,oped, as well as under concluded.her writing has glimpses of good but not nearly enough. If one can bet something like this published in the literature/fiction world, I'm sitting down with my laptop to start writing immediately. Wait, I guess I don't have a proven writer's name on which I can float. And ruin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really interesting story! I recommend it for a weekend read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Sara Gruen's books and this was no disappointment. I read the entire book in one sitting, then immediately reread it because it was so good. 
Dakota_Rose More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read this year. The development of the characters, especially Maddie, is superb. I was initially drawn to this book because years ago my husband and I traveled through Scotland and visited Loch Ness. I am actually sorry to have finished the book because I liked it and the characters so much!
CPAC2012 More than 1 year ago
Maddie Hyde is married to Ellis, though her husband's best friend's presence in their marriage is so constant that it seems it has always been the three of them. Both Hank and Ellis have been turned down from war service for having medical issues. In January of 1945, Ellis, Hank and Maddie travel to Scotland, ignoring the horror of the ongoing war, to pursue Ellis and his father's dream: to successfully film the elusive Loch Ness monster, basking in the fame and the glory of it all. War will forever change Maddie making her more aware of the challenges surrounding the members of the small village at the water's edge, but will Hank and Ellis succumb under their pettiness and their twisted sense of reality? At the Water's Edge doesn't have the humor and understated appeal of Water for Elephants, and it isn't the successful hodgepodge of Ape House but it does have its redeeming qualities. Despite being a literary page-turner in which not much appears to be happening on the surface, it is the eye opening account of an outsider's perception of the Second World War through the snippets of news coming from the Front as listened to every evening's radio broadcasting. It is about how some members of prominent families, far removed from the horrors of war, dodged the call to serve, choosing instead to pursue idle pastimes while ignoring the chaos brought on by the fighting. It is also the dissection of a disintegrating marriage through every seemingly forgivable transgression, and the dangerous turn a relationship can take. It is in the end a story of hope and the redeeming power of true love. While I didn't love At the Water's Edge, I stayed awake until the early hours of the morning while I was reading it and it managed to hold my interest throughout making me wonder what makes a good novel a great story. The ingredients were certainly there, but in my view it didn't pan out. DISCLAIMER: I received from the publisher a free Galley of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Phoebe_from_Sacramento More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Sara Gruen's books and have enjoyed her growth as an author that culminated with Water for Elephants; however, she should have skipped At the Water's Edge. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it didn't. The characters were not very likeable and even as the hero and pitiful heroine rode off into the sunset, I found them vapid and shallow. The plot was silly and unbelievable. However, if you like books with a weak heroine who is saved by the mysterious handsome innkeeper, this is for you. I really liked the supporting characters and wouldn't mind reading more about them.
feather_lashes 3 months ago
The author Sara Gruen has indicated in several online interviews that she has held a long-standing fascination with the Loch Ness monster starting at the age of twelve when she first visited Urquhart Castle. As such, a monster-related plot creates a backdrop for Ms. Gruen's historical fiction novel At the Water's Edge. Although unique, it's just there in the background allowing more impressive themes to shine, such as war, culture, gender roles in history, friendship, marriage, love, mental health, addiction, abuse, family issues, social status, and allowing yourself to re-evaluate the world you live in and grow. Overall, I liked At the Water's Edge and would recommend it to fans of Sara Gruen or women's/historical fiction. Check it out! My favorite quote: “I paused beneath the arched entrance, where the drawbridge had once been, imagining all the people who had passed in and out over the centuries, every one of them carrying a combination of desire, hope, jealousy, despair, grief, love, and every other human emotion; a combination that made each one as unique as a snowflake, yet linked all of them inextricably to every other human being from the dawn of time to the end of it.”
Anonymous 3 months ago
Could not put this book down. Easy to read and stay engaged with the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simplistic- reads like a harlequin romance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Help. I'm stuck."
Meemo_B More than 1 year ago
ARC provided by Netgalley in return for an unbiased review. Water for Elephants is one of my favorite books, so I looked forward to reading this one. While it was very different from Water for Elephants, still I very much enjoyed this book. The evolution of Madeline Hyde from a rather shallow party girl to a woman who realizes just how superficial her life has been is an interesting journey. I've read multiple reviews from people who said they gave up on the book because the characters were so shallow - which is a shame because that was, in fact, the point. They were absolutely shallow, and it was precisely that shallowness, that lack of comprehension of what was truly happening in the "real world", that led her husband to choose to take her on a dangerous voyage across the Atlantic during WWII to go to Scotland to look for the Loch Ness Monster during a time when there were nightly blackouts because of the German planes that came across the Channel for bombing raids. As Maddie begins to discern the truth about her marriage and her husband, she forges new friendships and relationships with the residents of the small town in Scotland where they base their search for Nessie. We learn the secrets of her life before her marriage, and the secrets of other characters. And ultimately she forges a new and surprising life there. I appreciated the fact that her evolution didn't happen overnight, because that's how life usually happens. Overall I very much enjoyed At the Water's Edge, despite how frustrating the characters could be at times.
GranbyLibraryBookClub More than 1 year ago
New Year's Eve 1944, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially after shaming the Hyde family at a high society New Year's party. This event leads Ellis, Maddie and friend Hank to Scottish Highlands on the hunt for the Loch Ness monster, the only way Ellis feels he will regain his father's respect. The environment is bleak for the wealthy Americans and relationships quickly become frayed, secrets are revealed and Maddie is forced to look at her life through new eyes after befriending the locals. Our book group found the book initially hard to get into, however they grew interested in the characters. We found this book not as good as others by Sara Gruen. 3 1/2 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good history and great romance .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
booklover10CM More than 1 year ago
If you like naive, stupid women you will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
clsnyder More than 1 year ago
This book was really good but took a while to get into it if you start the book keep pushing through past the middle and it gets really good but definitely slow at the beginning
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She pads in cautiously