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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AT THE WATER'S EDGE by Sara Gruen....A hard book to review.

From the book's blurb:
"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."


My thoughts:
I am having a hard time writing this review.
I didn't like the book, but I did, finally.
I didn't care about the characters, but I did, finally; well at least about a couple of them.
I didn't think the plot plausible, crossing the Atlantic to hunt for the Loch Ness Monster in the middle of a world war... but I kept reading.

Get the picture? 
The forward was beautifully written and promised so much more. However, from Chapter 1 the writing was sophomoric, and I wondered if the same person wrote both the forward and the novel itself. Then, again the writing changed and improved as the novel continued. 

The initial plotline was so insipid, that I almost stopped reading, but I didn't for I had promised my friends a review. As I reached further into the book, a second plotline emerged. This one was plausible, gripping, and entertaining.

As I reached the last 1/4 of the book, I couldn't stop reading. Then when I finished it, I was sorry that I had hurried through the ending. Much to my amazement, I kept thinking about the characters, those from the second plotline, for days.

This may not be the most helpful review one will ever read, but as I said, it is a hard review to write for it was a hard book to get through, but I'm glad I did.

I did not read WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, so I do not know if this is typical of Gruen's writing. As for AT THE WATER'S EDGE, you be the judge.


  1. What an honest review! That's refreshing. I wonder how many stars you would award it out of five?

  2. I had a similar reaction to her earlier book--impressed in places and swept along and at other times unimpressed by her writing. The blurb you printed made me think the books sounded good though.