Title: At the Water’s Edge
Author: Sara Gruen
2015 – Fiction – Historical Fiction
The Story: Maddie’s life is a blur of parties, alcohol, and luxury. But after war comes and her husband and best friend are both declared unfit for military service, they decide to take off for Scotland in order to search for the legendary monster of Loch Ness. During their stay, Maddie befriends the village locals, her husband grows more maniacal, and their marriage slowly begins to deteriorate.
The Opening Line: The headstone was modest and hewn of black granite, granite being one of the few things never in short supply in Glenurquhart, even during the present difficulty.
What I Loved: Gruen really knows how to set the historical scene, and that was really the star of the book. Maddie found herself in the middle of a battle at sea, encountered firsthand the wounded, learned to carry her gas mask everywhere she went, and survived several raids by hunkering down in a bunker. But even in the midst of war, Gruen placed a priority on adventure, friendships, and romance. Maddie’s growth as a character really just made me adore her. She went from being somewhat of a spoiled brat to a mature young lady with a better sense of perspective.
What I Didn’t Love: I would have loved to known more of Hank’s story. As Ellis and Maddie’s best friend, Hank financed their journey to Scotland and helped keep Ellis in check. And he seems like a decent guy, more or less, if a bit lazy and unmotivated. I also would have loved to see the romance blossom a bit more, as opposed to seeming like it was suddenly there without too much development.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed Water for Elephants, and my love for historical fiction is growing, so I was pretty certain that I would enjoy this title. And I did. I’ve heard a couple of dissenting voices, but overall, the reaction to this book has been really positive, and I’m happy to add to that. It was a fun read, while discussing some serious topics, and that really worked here. I think Gruen has a hit, and I can’t wait for you all to read it and let me know what you think!